Prescott proved he was better than the Eagles’ Carson Wentz years ago. Can he outlast Hurts, too?
Dak Prescott (left) and Jalen Hurts (right). Photos from The Dallas Morning News and The Associated Press.(SportsDay Staff)
Dak Prescott’s season may not have ended well, but he’s coming off a pretty good week, just the same. Not only was Dak named the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his many good works, Stephen Jones said the Cowboys would like to keep him around another 10 years. Until he’s 40, in other words.
Frankly, the proposal seems a little extravagant. My goals for Dak are modest in comparison.
He proved he was better than the Eagles’ Carson Wentz.
Let’s see if he can outlast Jalen Hurts, too.
Maybe you remember the consternation hereabouts when Wentz, second pick of the ‘16 draft, finished third in the MVP voting his sophomore season with the Eagles. Went 11-2 that year before getting hurt and yielding to Nick Foles, one of the least likely quarterbacks ever to hoist a Lombardi Trophy.
One Eagles fan wrote me out of the blue to crow they had two quarterbacks better than Dak.
Now, here we are, five years later, and Wentz is about to move on from his third team in three seasons while Foles is on his fourth in the last five.
Meanwhile, Dak is still in Dallas, where his contract isn’t as offensive as you think. The fact is, starting quarterbacks get paid, and the price is always going up, up, up. The average annual value of Dak’s at $40 million has slipped to seventh-highest, tied with Matthew Stafford, behind Aaron Rodgers ($50.3 million), Russell Wilson ($48.5 million), Kyler Murray ($46.1 million), Deshaun Watson ($46 million), Patrick Mahomes ($45 million) and Josh Allen ($43 million).
Behind them are Kirk Cousins ($35 million), Jared Goff ($33.5 million), Wentz ($32 million), Matt Ryan ($30 million), Ryan Tannehill ($29.5 million), Jameis Winston ($14 million) and all the journeymen and guys still playing on rookie contracts.
Hurts counts among the latter. Coming off a season in which he finished second in the MVP voting, he’s going into the last year of his deal, though Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ general manager, suggested Thursday they may rectify that oversight soon. They like to keep their best players long-term, Roseman said, and Hurts is “certainly one of our best players.”
When reporters asked Roseman if Wentz’s deal gives him pause about doing the same with Hurts, the GM said one doesn’t affect the other. Which was the right answer, by the way.
The Eagles really don’t have any leverage here. They have to get something done this summer. They can’t risk letting Hurts walk after next season. Not after he took them to the Super Bowl and outplayed Mahomes in Arizona. That is, if you can disregard the unfortunate fumble that led directly to a touchdown and the difference in the game. No matter, at least not for the Eagles’ immediate future. Gardner Minshew isn’t a Plan B.
Hurts’ next contract will be bigger than Dak’s. Maybe bigger than Allen’s. Maybe even bigger than Mahomes’, the biggest bargain since my first car, a ‘66 Dodge Dart that carried me around Houston for four years. Cost $400, if you don’t count the $59 paint job at Earl Scheib. Could have gotten a pastel for $39, but Matador red seemed worth an extra 20 bucks.
Anyway, Hurts made believers out of a lot of people this year. Maybe even yours truly. Depends on what day you ask.
Sometimes I watch him drop dimes downfield and run for tough yards and think he’s come a long way since he played in Norman. Then sometimes I wonder if coaches watch any film on him.
Will defenses just turn him loose next year like they did in his breakout season?
Or will he pick up where Wentz dropped off?
Of course, Dak is no kid, and he has just as much to prove as Hurts does. Those 15 interceptions weren’t all Dak’s fault, but they were still too many by half. Maybe Mike McCarthy’s play-calling can make a difference.
But before the Cowboys think about extending Dak’s contract, either to give them more flexibility under the cap or just to keep him around, he must prove this season was an anomaly.
Because if it wasn’t, then it’ll be time to play out the contract as is and move on.
Which brings us to the question this topic suggested:
Would you bet on Dak or Hurts?
Hurts is five years younger, and he’s already won as many playoff games in two seasons as Dak has won in seven. But you also have to wonder if his body can hold up if he keeps running so much and what another year of film means for opposing defenses.
Dak is a heck of a human and leader but not the kind of quarterback who lifts the level of talent around him. Teams have won Super Bowls with worse quarterbacks, but they had better talent around them.
My bet: At the moment, I’d rather have Hurts, because he’s younger, stronger and just as much his team’s heartbeat. But before committing long-term, I want to see where these two NFC East quarterbacks are at this time next year.
As for that old Dart, they towed it away one day after I got tired of pouring so much oil down it. Figured I got my money’s worth. Better than you can say for some quarterbacks.