Our long national nightmare is over. Dak Prescott finally -- deservedly -- reached a long-term deal with the Dallas Cowboys.
The details: four years, $160 million, $126 million guaranteed. At an annual average rate of $40 million, Prescott is now the second-highest-paid player in the league, trailing only Patrick Mahomes. Could the Cowboys have saved money by coming to an agreement in the 2020 offseason? Oh yeah. The 2019 offseason? Of course. But let's not ruin the party. Dak is a franchise quarterback. The 'Boys are in business. Win-win! And in that vein ...
Let's take a look at the LONG list of people who benefit from this contract, Schein Nine style.
1) Dak Prescott
Let's jog the mental rolodex and remember that Prescott was a fourth-round draft pick in 2016, the eighth quarterback off the board that year. Shortly after the draft, Jerry Jones lamented not being able to find a way to snag Paxton Lynch. PAXTON LYNCH! The Cowboys also attempted to trade up for Connor Cook. Yep, I'm serious.
Eventually, Dallas settled on the first-team All-SEC signal-caller out of Mississippi State. All he did was guide the Cowboys to an NFC East-winning 13-3 record in Year 1, earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and a Pro Bowl bid in the process. With another division title and Pro Bowl nod in 2018, Prescott set himself up for a major payday, but the Joneses tried to play hardball. I remember talking to Prescott at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta back in February of 2019. I told him he should bet on himself. And he did just that.
Things got a little dicey when he suffered a gruesome ankle injury this past October, but this unfortunate development ultimately fell under the umbrella of "You don't know what you've got until it's gone." After beginning last season with Super Bowl aspirations, the Cowboys couldn't function sans Dak, finishing third in a historically bad NFC East. The writing was on the wall: Dallas needed Dak. It took some time, but the quarterback gambled on himself -- and won.
Prescott is a gem of a person and team leader, in addition to being a great player at the game's most important position. He worked incredibly hard for this, and he will never stop. Dak bravely opened up about mental health issues last year, revealing his personal struggles with depression in the wake of his brother's suicide and in the midst of the global pandemic. This guy is so easy to root for and worth every single penny. And while we're talking about Dak's worth ...
2) Todd France
Dak's agent held out for the best possible deal over the past few years and won big time. France, the ultra-savvy and well-respected representative, netted his client 40 million bucks a year. From 135th overall pick in 2016 to No. 2 NFL earner in 2021. Not too shabby.
Oh, and with the highly lucrative deal only spanning four seasons, Prescott's scheduled to hit free agency at the prime age of 31. This was a master class by France. He got everything he wanted.
3) Mike McCarthy
I absolutely loved this hire last offseason, repeatedly waxing poetic about what a perfect coach McCarthy would be for the Cowboys -- and Dak, in particular. Obviously, Year 1 didn't go as planned. In fact, it was a complete mess, especially after Prescott's season-ending injury in Week 5.
This year will come with major expectations, and I expect McCarthy and the 'Boys to deliver big time. McCarthy is a quarterback (and offensive) guru. While Dak and the offense put up some points in the first month-plus of last season, we didn't get to see how the QB-coach relationship would blossom over the entire course of a campaign. Not to mention, McCarthy hates distractions -- and Dak's never-ending contract saga was just that. Now Mike can coach and work with Dak in the fabled McCarthy quarterback school this offseason. Color me excited. This could be the elite passing attack in the NFL in 2021.
4) CeeDee Lamb
Lamb's rookie year was strong, with the No. 17 overall pick racking up 74 catches for 935 yards and five touchdowns. That was just the beginning. With a spectacular all-around skill set that includes monster YAC ability, Lamb has the chops to be a true difference-maker in this league.
5) Chicago Bears
In last week's column, I explained why the Seahawks should indeed trade Russell Wilson. Right now. And I've been saying on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein On Sports," that Chicago is the place for Russ.
Wilson's agent told ESPN's Adam Schefter that his client would waive his no-trade clause for four destinations: Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and New Orleans. In the wake of Dak's megadeal, you can cross the Cowboys off that list. Meanwhile, the Saints still have a long way to go in order to get under the salary cap. And Raiders GM Mike Mayock just had this to say about the incumbent quarterback in Las Vegas: "I think Derek Carr had his best year under Jon Gruden. I think he's one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, and we couldn't be happier with him. I think Jon (Gruden) and I would both stand shoulder-to-shoulder and pound the table for Derek Carr."
This leaves Chicago -- you know, the franchise that's seemingly been desperate for a real keeper at quarterback since the dawning of time? This makes a ton of sense.
6) Football fans
Yes, I get it. The daily Dak-Dallas drama had grown quite tiresome, even when it was rightly topical. And I say that as someone who lives in the court of public opinion on radio, TV, podcast and NFL.com. So that exhausting subplot is over. And it's conclusion is quite nice: With a franchise quarterback in tow, Dallas will be relevant going forward. That means "America's Team" will be passionately loved and loathed, which is always great for league buzz. Great for prime-time programming, too.
In the immediate future, I think Dallas wins the NFC East going away in 2021, putting one of the league's banner franchises back in the postseason tournament for the first time since the 2018 campaign. This is good for general football intrigue. The Cowboys are to pro football what Duke is to college basketball -- and barring a magical run by Duke in the ACC tourney, the NCAA tournament will suffer from the Blue Devils' absence this year.
7) Cowboys' scouting department
Now, it's draft time! And you don't have to worry about using the first-rounder to either trade for or select a quarterback. The No. 10 overall pick will be spent in other areas.
Dallas needs defense, defense and more defense. A stud offensive lineman would be nice, too. Two top-50 picks can net two immediate starters.
8) Ezekiel Elliott
I've long argued that Zeke is a superstar. 2020 tested that theory. Elliott truly was a disappointment this past season. Now, there were a lot of issues surrounding the 25-year-old back, from Prescott's injury to poor coaching to a deteriorating offensive line. Opposing teams clearly had no problem stacking the box with Dak out for the season. All that said, after struggling with COVID-19 over the summer, Elliott slumped miserably and hardly lived up to his contract. He just didn't look like the same back as we'd grown accustomed to seeing.
Zeke's a prideful guy. I always envisioned him rebounding in 2021. And now, with his 2016 draftmate locked up and highly motivated to bounce back from injury, I see both guys rocking Year 6 in the NFL.
9) Class of 2018 quarterbacks
If Dak gets $40 million a year, how much will Josh Allen command? What about 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson? Baker Mayfield hasn't accomplished what the aforementioned quarterbacks have done, but he's definitely working toward a healthy raise in Cleveland.
Bottom line: The price of doing business at quarterback just went up big time.