'Be sure to report that': Cowboys QB Dak Prescott's contract negotiating has begun
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'Be sure to report that': Cowboys QB Dak Prescott's contract negotiating has begun

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MIAMI - Dak Prescott made no declarations.

He's too shrewd to do that at this stage.

But by expressing his disappointment over the lack of a contract, by refusing to state he'll report to the Cowboys offseason program if he's hit with the franchise tag, he creates doubt.

He creates leverage.

"You would hope and you would think something is going to get done, right," Prescott said Thursday in his most pointed comments yet. "I mean, you would have thought something would have gotten done before the season.

"In my brain, it only says that it gets done. Without the tag..."

Prescott paused for a second, searching for the right words.

"I don't think any of that is necessary," he said. "But that's business. That's all calculated.

"That's all on them."

Spoken like a quarterback who understands that with a new head coach in the fold, his participation during the voluntary offseason program is essential.

The two sides are on a 40-day clock here. If Prescott doesn't have a lucrative deal by March 10, the Cowboys have no choice but to apply the franchise tag to keep him from reaching the open market.

Ezekiel Elliott, who was under contract, took part in last year's offseason program as a show of good faith then held out of training camp for a new deal. Any leverage he owned came with the start of the regular season.

It's different for Prescott. The offense will look different under head coach Mike McCarthy. Changes will be implemented. The team can't afford to be without its starting quarterback when the offense is installed during the offseason program.

Will Prescott take part in the offseason program if he doesn't have a new contract?

"We'll get to that when we get to that," Prescott said during a promotional appearance for Sleep Number. "I look forward to talking to my agents and when that (tag) comes to play, the direction that we'll go. Until that's a reality, I won't worry about it.

"But I do feel like some of this should get done. I'm a little disappointed that it hasn't, but that's part of it."

Stephen Jones, the club's chief operating officer, said last week from the Senior Bowl that signing Prescott to a long-term contract is the organization's No. 1 priority.

"Nothing has changed there," Stephen Jones said before boarding a plane with the rest of the Jones family for their flight to Miami. "Obviously, we want to sign him. It's a top priority and we want to get it done. We need to get it done.

"I know he feels the same way."

Prescott has done a number of interviews since arriving in Miami on Tuesday. He's said he's confident a new contract is coming, acknowledged the status that comes with being the Cowboys quarterback is unlike that of virtually any other franchise and said he hasn't given much thought to being with another team.

Both sides are operating on the belief that Prescott will stay in place. That doesn't mean there won't be some hard stances taken along the negotiating way.

Asked if he planned to spend much time in Dallas in the coming weeks and months, Prescott said no. He'll be elsewhere.

That means he won't be at The Star.

"Report that," Prescott said. "Be sure to report that."

Talking about his contract isn't the only thing Prescott is doing in his time in Miami. The Cowboys quarterback was at the Miami Rescue Mission earlier this week to serve meals and donate 100,000 bowls of Campbell's Chunky soup to the shelter in his partnership with the corporation. There are more promotional appearances to make, interviews to do and parties to attend before the week is done.

Prescott won't be at the game between Kansas City and San Francisco. He flies back to Dallas Sunday morning.

"I'll be at the house long before the kickoff, watching the game," Prescott said.

After that? Well, he won't be in Dallas long.

That's how leverage works.

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