Troy Aikman: Cowboys should hurry up and sign Dak Prescott long term

The names read like a list of no names, never weres and has beens: Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Ryan Leaf, Clint Stoerner, Chad Hutchinson, Drew Henson, Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe. That’s the quarterbacks who started for the Cowboys between Troy Aikman’s retirement and when the team lucked into Tony Romo.

The Cowboys lucked into Dak Prescott as Romo’s heir apparent, going from one franchise quarterback to another in 2016 after Romo was injured in a preseason game.

“They’re not going to get very far without a franchise quarterback,’’ Aikman told David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. “They’ve got that in Dak.’’

Prescott has started 69 of a possible 80 games for the Cowboys in his career, missing the final 11 games in 2020 with a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle. The Cowboys, 2-3 with Prescott, went 4-7 without him.

Prescott, though, is scheduled to become a free agent next month after playing last season on the one-year franchise tag.

“I think the price tag went up,’’ Aikman said. “I think Dak’s leverage went up after this year.’’

The Cowboys and Prescott’s representation have negotiated almost two years without reaching an agreement.

If the Cowboys can’t work out a long-term deal with their quarterback by March 9, they are expected to use the $37.7 million franchise tag on him. That would buy the Cowboys four months to get a long-term agreement with Prescott or risk his potential departure in 2022.

Kirk Cousins is the only quarterback in NFL history to play under the franchise tag in back-to-back seasons. He then left Washington as a free agent in 2018.

“I’d be really surprised if [Prescott] is playing under the franchise tag again this year,’’ Aikman said. “My guess is if he is, that will be the last we see of Dak Prescott [in Dallas].

“I just can’t imagine that he’s going to feel really good giving an open negotiation to the Cowboys if he’s played two years under the franchise tag.”

Aikman, though, expresses optimism that the Cowboys will get a deal worked out with Prescott that keeps Prescott in Dallas long term. The FOX analyst used the word “hopeful,” the same word most Cowboys fans would use.