It’s a new year yet the same storyline will dominate the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason over the next few months. Quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys haven’t reached a long-term deal which means both parties will continue their negotiation dance that’s gone for far too long.

Time and time again, the Cowboys have talked about wanting Dak around for the long run. However, it’s only fair to point out his future is uncertain. That’s not saying anything in particular about the Cowboys or Dak himself, it’s just the truth for any quarterback facing a second franchise tag in back-to-back years.

After all, there’s a reason why Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins aren’t playing on the teams that allowed them to play under the tag. Before Dak Prescott, they were the only two quarterbacks in NFL history to be forced to do so. If you’re willing to force your quarterback to do that, you better be aware of the potential downfall.

So, yes, Dak Prescott leaving Dallas is indeed possible.

However, as the quarterback market gets more and more interesting around the league, plenty of people will speculate on Prescott’s future and pitch unlikely trade scenarios that include Dak leaving Dallas in 2021.

But is that possible, let alone likely?

It seems to me like it isn’t. Not this year. Even if Prescott doesn’t end up with the Cowboys, losing Dak in 2021 shouldn’t be a concern for fans. The Cowboys and the young quarterback will continue negotiations up to the franchise tag deadline on March 9th. At which point, they’ll probably tag him and keep negotiating with the hopes of reaching a long-term deal before the next deadline.

Worst case scenario, Dak Prescott plays under the tag once again with a cap hit of $37M, 20% higher than his 2020 cap hit.

But even if the Cowboys are surely getting Dak back in 2021, this is the most important year in the negotiations for both parties. If a long-term deal isn’t done this year and Prescott plays under the tag once again, real trouble will arrive in 2022.

A third franchise tag would mean a $52M cap hit, which also means that won’t happen. Dak would have a clear path toward testing the waters in free agency, meaning he’ll have all the leverage there is to have. Imagine that. The Dallas Cowboys losing control over one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL.

The Cowboys remain confident they’ll get the deal done, but they’re not only racing league deadlines. They’re also racing other NFL teams with other quarterbacks waiting for an extension. A year ago, the Cowboys could’ve made Prescott the highest-paid quarterback in the league with an offer just above $35M per year. But now, after Patrick Mahomes’ out-of-the-box 10-year deal and Watson’s $39M per year, the Cowboys will likely need to make Prescott the first 40-million per year quarterback.

Next in the race are the Bills and Josh Allen, who’s had a huge season for the Buffalo Bills as they get ready to play in the Divisional Round next weekend.

The Dallas Cowboys know they won’t lose Dak next season, but they also know this is the year to get it done. It’s time to pay their man.

Featured Image Via Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports