Dak Prescott has been in decline this season. What’s next for him, the Cowboys?

Dak Prescott will have to stew this for a while.

Of the three other playoff losses so far in his career, there’s always something else to consider. The Cowboys‘ The division’s opening matches in 2016 and 2018 had unfortunate shortcomings in defense. Last year’s wild card loss to this San Francisco team witnessed 49ers conduct a demolition job on his offensive line.

That’s not the case in 2023. Dallas’ defense did a better job of it, scoring just 19 points on Sunday afternoon. And while the pressure of the 49ers didn’t make his life easy, Prescott still had time to operate in a game where he finished with just 206 passes and two interceptions.

This is uncharted territory for Prescott in the sense that it’s fair to consider him as the biggest culprit in keeping the Cowboys out of the post-season. That, combined with 17 brutal interceptions in a season shortened due to injury, would certainly make this the most unsettling season of his tenure in Dallas. After such a forgettable attempt, that disappointment is evident. “Trade Dak” trended on Twitter on Sunday night, as the tournament’s biggest fanbase vented about the loss. The Cowboys’ $40 million quarterback is at the heart of every sports talk show in the country. But what exactly does that mean, other than momentary anger?

Swapping midfielders becomes more common and feels more real than ever in 2023. After all, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz have all changed teams during the calendar year. past. Trading Prescott looks like an impossibility, even if the Cowboys wanted to – which they didn’t. For starters, the 29-year-old has included a no-sale clause in the $160 million contract he re-signed in 2021, so he must sign any deal. Which appears on the Cowboys table.

More importantly, his trade would cripple the Cowboys’ wage cap balance. While we don’t yet know what the 2023 league cap will be, we do know that trading Prescott at this stage of his contract will cost the Cowboys a $58 million cap fee. If we’re estimating this year’s salary cap to be around $220 million, you’re talking about setting aside a quarter of the team’s available limit for Prescott to play elsewhere. That doesn’t happen. As exhausting as it sounds, the Cowboys’ best course of action is to run again against the very same guys who have produced a 24-10 regular-season record over the past two years – and a 1-2 in the knockout stages.

As can be expected from a team with such an expensive midfielder, there will be some acrobatics. Dallas is projected to hit or exceed the 2023 cap, whenever it is announced, and Prescott’s cap figure will be $49 million for next year. It will take some tough business decisions, as well as some restructuring of some contracts — Prescott’s likely among them — to stay on track.

Dak & Cowboys eliminated from the knockout round after falling to the 49ers

Emmanuel Acho, LeSean McCoy, Joy Taylor and David Helman discuss Dak Prescott’s performance during the Dallas Cowboys’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Helman said that Dak’s performance was flawed.

Fortunately, the free agent list is not as difficult as in previous years. The Cowboys have to figure out what to do with the newly named Pro Bowler Tony Pollardand a few other important starters are out of contract; Dalton Schultz, Leighton Vander Esch, Donovan Wilson and Anthony Brown both think. But the Cowboys landed some promising young draft picks and their core—from Prescott and CeeDee Lamb arrive Micah Parsons, Trevon peach and DeMarcus Lawrence – under contract.

Still, it’s fair to think that’s not good enough. This is still a group that scored just 12 points on Sunday, and is still three wins short of the final. Standing still on a similar list is not the same as a winning strategy. Lamb has emerged as an All-Pro player this year, but Schultz could be lost to the free company and it’s fair to say that the rest of the team taking on the Cowboys isn’t part of the solution. .

Similarly, Pollard is a great piece of the puzzle if he can be kept, but this team’s run could use more highlights – a fact that was highlighted when Pollard left the game for the weekend. this with a broken fibula, leaving Ezekiel Elliott average 2.6 yards per session. That simply isn’t enough for attack, unless you’re hoping your back four can dramatically enhance secondary talent – and relying on that hope once and for all is how we ended up here. Prescott remains the Cowboys’ best way forward, no matter what you’ve heard. And while Prescott will have to go down that road in 2023, the Cowboys will make it easier to navigate.

David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports. Prior to that, he spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in producing “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” about the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter at @davidhelman_.

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