Read and React: Don't hate Dak Prescott (hate the NFL QB market)

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Good morning!

Well, the NFL week kicked off on Monday with reports that Dak Prescott wants to bet big on himself. With Prescott's big payday just a year away, Jane Slater of the NFL Network reported the quarterback had turned down a contract worth an average of $30 million per year and instead asked for $40 million per year.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Pro Football Talk's Charean Williams later reported that Prescott had not asked for $40 million, but the story had already gone through roughly eight internet cycles. Jokes had been made, quarterback rankings had been tweeted and several people ended up in the hospital from shaking their heads too fiercely. (OK, that last part is just an assumption because I heard a co-worker complaining about whiplash.)

Anyway, it's anyone's guess where the truth here lies. But like with anything else, it's probably somewhere in the middle.

(Getty Images)

Prescott's strategy makes sense

It's easy to make jokes and cast a side-eye at Prescott's future salary.

But it also ignores where the NFL is at right now.

As he heads into his fourth season, we have a pretty good idea of Dak Prescott's capabilities. He's not the best quarterback in the league, nor is he anywhere near the worst. He's instead part of the NFL's growing middle class of signal callers; a guy who's just good enough to make you fear what life might be like without him.

As such, Prescott likely knows that confidence in his own abilities has the potential to pay off big time. Kirk Cousins took the franchise tag for two seasons in Washington and later cashed in with a three-year, $84 million contract in Minnesota.

The Vikings should already regret that contract, but the fact that they gave it to him portends a good future for Prescott. If the Cowboys eventually decide he's not the long-term answer at QB, there will likely be another team that will.

Will the Cowboys pay him?

If the Cowboys do want Prescott to stick around, he's about to become a very rich man. Almost every big QB deal signed these days vaults the player to the top of the highest paid list. Indeed, seven quarterbacks* have held the title of highest paid NFL player since 2016, even if just for a few months at a time.

Bottom line: While a good quarterback on a rookie contract remains the best weapon in pro football, no team has yet figured out a way to fill the vacuum between saying goodbye to an above-average quarterback after his rookie deal and finding a younger and cheaper replacement who can get the job done. (We're not talking about running backs ... Sorry, Zeke.)

My colleague Charles Robinson reported on Monday night that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys don't want to set the market whether it's for Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott or Amari Cooper.

But they might not have a choice now that they've kicked the can down the road this far. The hunch here is that Prescott plays well enough in 2019 to earn big paper with the Cowboys on a future deal.

And then we talk about the contract for as long as it takes Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky to go down the same path ...

*Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr