The big news out of training camp for the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday was the exit of the team's star quarterback Dak Prescott after he was seen leaving the field in what later we learned was an injury to his throwing shoulder.
The good news is that it's just a shoulder strain, and we are still six weeks away from the start of the regular season. The team will undoubtedly set him aside and allow him plenty of time to properly recover. The bad news is we might not see a whole lot of Prescott in the coming weeks, and there's always going to be that unsettling concern in the back of our mind about the condition of that all-important right arm. Cowboys fans got a terrible taste of life without Prescott last season after he suffered a broken ankle early in the year. Down went Dak, and with it went any chance the team had to do anything meaningful in 2020.
Needless to say, anything threatening Prescott's health is not going to sit well amongst Cowboys Nation. And considering the front office just shelled out a huge chunk of change to retain Dak's services for the next four seasons, it's sort of important to have him out on the field. Not having Prescott available is a big waste of cap resources.
Speaking of the salary cap, I came across something very interesting when I was perusing through some cap figures at overthecap.com which led me to this not-so-fun fact...
By sheer coincidence, the four most expensive cap hits the Cowboys have had at the quarterback position just so happen to correlate to a year where that quarterback missed significant time. What a kick in the stomach that little nugget of information is.
You may recall that back in 2010, Tony Romo went down with a broken clavicle in Week 6 on a Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants after he was smashed into the ground by linebacker Michael Boley. Romo went on to miss the next 10 games that year and the Cowboys finished the season with a 6-10 record.
Then, in 2015, Romo got sacked by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks in Week 2 that resulted in a broken collarbone. Despite the team escaping that game with a win and starting the season 2-0, the Cowboys offense spiraled without Romo at quarterback. Backups Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel combined to lose their next seven games before Romo's eventual return against the Miami Dolphins. While Romo's return helped them beat the Dolphins, the excitement was short lived as Romo went down with a season-ending shoulder injury the following week against Carolina. Without Tony, the Cowboys lost five of their last six games and finished with a 4-12 record on the year.
The 2016 season brought forth a clean bill of health for Romo, but little did we know that we had already seen his last regular season start in a Cowboys uniform. That's because Romo suffered a compression fracture to the L1 vertebra in his back during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. Romo did heal and eventually became healthy enough to return; however, by then the Dak Prescott era had begun. The rookie Prescott helped lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the no. 1 seed in the NFC.
Romo announced his retirement the following season, which took his base salary off the books for future years, but the team was still on the hook for nearly $20 million of deal money that was spread out across the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
With Prescott at the helm, the Cowboys had something they hadn't had in a long time - steady health at the quarterback position. Dak started all 64 games of the first four years of his career at the bargain price of an annual average salary of less than $700,000 per year. When the Cowboys were unable to get him extended, the front office slapped the franchise tag on him in 2020 at a one-time annual cost of $31.4 million. Sure enough, when the price tag skyrocketed, the Cowboys were again hit will some bad fortunate in health as Dak suffered a gruesome ankle injury in Week 5 against the Giants.
This large cap/bad luck injury connection is purely coincidental. Certainly there is no logic around it and the team can't be cursed, right? Let's hope not because Prescott is set to count for $22.2 million against the cap this season, making it the second-highest single-season cap hit for a quarterback in Cowboys history. Hopefully, this correlation ends now and we get Prescott back in action for the 2021 season. Dak did provide an update later in the evening, and everything seems fine.
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