Dak Prescott ankle injury – Answering the biggest questions about the QB, the Cowboys, Andy Dalton and what’s next

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On Sunday, a Dallas Cowboys workforce that was once apparently going thru a nightmare season noticed its worst fears discovered. In the 3rd quarter, Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury. If you had been looking at the play, you might be no longer going to fail to remember what you noticed for a very long time. If you did not see the play, imagine your self fortunate. Injuries are a part of soccer, and they do not discriminate towards just right or dangerous other folks or between stars and odd avid gamers, nevertheless it was once tricky to not be beaten as a crying Prescott was carted off the field.

The Cowboys installed backup Andy Dalton, who led a past due power to arrange a sport-profitable box function and a 37-34 win over the Giants. The 2-3 Cowboys are actually in first position atop the putrid NFC East, however what occurs next may cross many alternative techniques. Let’s reset the scene and identify the whole lot you want to grasp after Prescott’s heartbreaking injury:

Jump to a bit:
Could this be a career-threatening injury?
Should Prescott have taken Dallas’ offer?
Is Andy Dalton actually any good?
Can the Cowboys still win the NFC East?
Should the Cowboys try to get another QB?
What happens if they decide to move on?

What came about?

With the sport tied at 23 in the 3rd quarter, the Cowboys dialed up a designed quarterback draw. Prescott broke thru one take on strive and then attempted to stiff-arm Giants defensive again Logan Ryan. As Ryan dragged Prescott down, the quarterback’s ankle were given stuck beneath Ryan. We frequently see avid gamers undergo top ankle sprains when their ankles get stuck at that kind of perspective, but if Prescott got here out of the take on, his ankle was once going through the fallacious route.

There was once not anything malicious or untoward about the take on or the rest someone may have realistically completed to forestall the injury. The Cowboys use Prescott as a runner on designed performs, however his workload is not exorbitant or unreasonable. He were remarkably wholesome as a professional, as the 27-year-previous had by no means been on the injury document earlier than he went down on Sunday.

Officially, the Cowboys introduced that Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his proper ankle, which means that the bone penetrated his pores and skin as a part of the injury. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported that Prescott underwent surgical operation on the ankle Sunday night. His season is most likely over, and the Cowboys will position him on injured reserve someday this week.

Could this be a profession-threatening injury?

By all accounts, Prescott must be capable of go back. Although the injury was once no doubt ugly, avid gamers throughout sports activities have returned from an identical accidents in the previous and persevered their careers. In baseball, Jason Kendall, Moises Alou and Robin Ventura returned from compound ankle fractures and sustained lengthy careers. In basketball, we lately noticed Celtics ahead Gordon Hayward dislocate his ankle and fracture his tibia, pass over a complete season and go back the following 12 months.

Most importantly, we have noticed soccer avid gamers conquer this injury, together with ball carriers. Veteran working again LeSean McCoy suffered a compound ankle fracture in highschool. At the professional stage, Connor Barwin and Allen Hurns had been in a position to triumph over dislocated ankles and go back to the game. No two accidents are equivalent, in fact, however there is precedent for avid gamers making it again to play at the very best stage.

Given that Alex Smith made his go back to the box the day Prescott was once injured, it is only herbal to take a look at to match Prescott’s injury to the Washington quarterback’s. They are not the identical. Smith suffered a broken tibia and fibula and then handled a lifestyles-threatening an infection, which led doctors to perform a total of 17 surgeries. We would possibly not know till Prescott leaves the health center and starts rehabilitating, however the hope is that he’s going to steer clear of any infections or different headaches after surgical operation.

No one can say evidently that Prescott will probably be the identical participant upon returning. Ankle accidents could cause severe issues for quarterbacks. Although his injury is nowhere close to as critical, take Jimmy Garoppolo for instance. When the 49ers quarterback suffered a top ankle sprain in Week 2, I discussed that quarterbacks who suffer high ankle sprains have a habit of sailing their throws when they come back, resulting in sailed passes and interceptions. Garoppolo made his go back Sunday and was once 7-of-17 passing for 77 yards with two sailed selections earlier than he was once benched at halftime.

Prescott should reestablish his footwork as a passer. He is probably not as explosive or impactful as a runner, which has been an underrated and valuable part of his game the past five years. He would possibly come again as the identical man, having a look like the injury by no means came about. He may additionally come again as a much less cellular and flexible participant, which might take a bit out of his sport.

How does this affect his long term with the Cowboys?

In the brief time period, not anything adjustments. Prescott is taking part in on the franchise tag, which promises him $31.Four million for 2020. He’ll accumulate that cash even after being put on injured reserve. As was once the case earlier than the injury, he isn’t below contract after Week 17, despite the fact that Dallas has techniques to stay him round.

The franchise’s 3 alternatives on what to do with Prescott additionally have not modified. The Cowboys may let him depart and hit unrestricted loose company. If that occurs, they wouldn’t get direct reimbursement, despite the fact that they’d most likely accumulate a 3rd-spherical compensatory select in the 2022 draft if they did not signal a in a similar fashion pricey participant in loose company. They may additionally signal him to a freelance extension, one thing they have got attempted and failed to do the past two offseasons.

The perhaps consequence each earlier than and after the injury is the 3rd choice: a 2nd franchise tag. The Cowboys can be offering Prescott some other one-12 months deal, with this one ensuring the Mississippi State product $37.7 million for the 2021 season. The transfer would quantity to a $6.Three million lift, however with the cap set to drop from $198.2 million in 2020 to $175 million on account of the hit in native revenues, the workforce would really feel the pinch of a 2nd tag much more. Prescott recently takes up 14.4% of Dallas’ cap house, however he could be in line to take in one thing nearer to 18.9% next 12 months. With a $175 million cap, $37.7 million is the an identical of paying Prescott one thing as regards to $42.7 million in this 12 months’s cap.

At the identical time, a 2nd tag would make sense for either side. The Cowboys would possibly no longer wish to decide to Prescott in the long run till they see that their starter has returned to complete well being, which they will not be able to look on a soccer box earlier than the franchise tag time limit in March. Franchising Prescott is the handiest manner the Cowboys may retain his rights earlier than loose company, and that might give them 5 months to barter an extension prematurely of the July time limit for handing franchised avid gamers lengthy-time period contracts.

Likewise, for Prescott, a franchise tag turns out preferable. He has time and again declined contract extensions from the Cowboys in the hope of going 12 months-to-12 months and getting the actual kind of deal he needs, whether or not it’s from the Cowboys or some other group. This summer time, even if the two facets had been reportedly shut on the reasonable wage of a brand new deal, talks fell aside over disagreements about period.

Dallas, which in most cases likes at hand out the longest contracts in soccer to retain regulate of its avid gamers whilst leaving cap flexibility, sought after an extended deal. Prescott sought a three- or 4-12 months deal, hoping to signal a brief-time period contract and then get again to loose company after the league indicators its new tv offers over the next two years, at which level the cap is anticipated to upward thrust dramatically.

It’s imaginable that Prescott’s injury may exchange his outlook and inspire the veteran to take no matter the workforce is providing as a part of the longest imaginable deal. Given that he has frequently guess on himself and made greater than $31 million in base wage on my own this 12 months, despite the fact that, it would not be stunning if he persevered alongside that trail, even after the injury.

Should Prescott have taken Dallas’ lengthy-time period be offering?

In the aftermath of the injury, the worst other folks on Twitter had been excited to speak about how Prescott was once silly to say no the workforce’s lengthy-time period provides earlier than he suffered his injury. Never thoughts that we have not noticed any of the contract be offering specifics or how much cash he realistically would had been passing up as a part of a deal. Every participant has to take care of chance, and as frequently as a participant passes on a protracted-time period choice and then will get harm, we see avid gamers who take underneath-marketplace price offers earlier than staying wholesome and regretting their alternatives, as with Chris Harris Jr. and Adam Thielen.

While we do not know what a Prescott deal would have held, the fact is that he was once assured $31.Four million by means of the franchise tag. Unless he’s not able to play in 2021, the Cowboys are more likely to franchise him once more and pay him $37.7 million for a complete of $69.1 million over two seasons, at which level Prescott would be capable of both accumulate a 3rd franchise tag for $54.Three million or hit unrestricted loose company. He nearly indisputably would have had his 2022 base wage assured as a part of an extension, however I’m no longer certain that he would have made that a lot more cash by means of signing an extension than he would by means of going 12 months-to-12 months.

If Prescott is not in a position to play in 2021, he may additionally be secure. During the quarterback’s negotiations in 2019, Schefter reported that Prescott had loss-of-value and disability insurance and endorsement deals worth more than $50 million. It’s unclear whether or not he’s nonetheless wearing that kind of insurance coverage, however it is transparent that he concept about what would possibly occur if he were given injured over the previous couple of years. At the very least, Prescott was once acutely aware of this risk and the chance he was once taking.

Andy Dalton is now the Cowboys’ starter. Is he just right?

Dalton was once cast on Sunday. Although a nasty alternate ended in a fumble, a brief box and a Giants landing, the longtime Bengals starter went 9-of-11 passing for 111 yards after taking up. With the sport tied at 34, Dalton finished 3 passes for 72 yards to arrange a sport-profitable box function from Greg Zuerlein. That was once the one sure to remove from an terrible Sunday for the Cowboys.

There are two questions right here. One of them is straightforward to respond to: I do not believe Dalton has any hope of matching Prescott’s manufacturing on this offense, whether or not it’s what we noticed in 2019 or over the first 4-plus video games of 2020. Remember: Prescott threw for extra yards than every other quarterback in soccer historical past thru the first 4 video games of 2020, and it wasn’t in particular shut. Dalton would possibly not take in that roughly quantity.

Can Dalton be just right sufficient to win video games, despite the fact that? That’s inside of the realm of risk, despite the fact that he had a a lot better shot at main the Cowboys as built on paper heading into this season than he does with the present model of this workforce. Dallas is lacking 5 starters on offense, together with Prescott. Three of them are alongside the offensive line: Center Joe Looney is out for a couple of weeks, however beginning tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are out for the season. On Sunday, the Cowboys began 3 offensive linemen with one blended get started in the NFL earlier than 2020 in Tyler Biadasz, Terence Steele, and Brandon Knight.

Dalton has a borderline-MVP season on his résumé from 2015 in Cincinnati, when he had top guns akin to A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and Tyler Eifert and arguably the league’s perfect offensive line. The Cowboys can provide Dalton the guns, however their go coverage is suspect. Over his remaining two seasons in Cincinnati, a decaying offensive line let Dalton down, and the TCU product wasn’t in a position to compensate. The Bengals ranked 31st in go block win price between 2018 and ’19, and Dalton’s numbers nosedived in the procedure. He ranked 28th in each passer ranking and QBR when stressed over that two-12 months span, and despite the fact that the Cowboys nonetheless have one famous person lineman left in Zack Martin, their line another way could be worse than what Dalton labored at the back of in Cincinnati.

The Cowboys had been go-pleasant and have performed at one in every of the league’s quickest charges this season, partially as a result of cases: Teams must throw so much and play speedy once they cross down by means of two touchdowns in the first part each and every week. With Dalton in the lineup, even given the line problems, I’d be expecting Dallas to decelerate and depend extra closely on Ezekiel Elliott. Slowing down additionally reduces the force on the Dallas protection, which ranked 24th in DVOA thru 4 weeks. Dalton nonetheless has one in every of the NFL’s maximum proficient large receiver teams, however he is not going to make use of his receivers as regularly.

Can the Cowboys nonetheless win the department?

Absolutely, despite the fact that that is extra of a statement on what has unaffectionately become known as the NFC Least than Dallas’ efficiency. The Cowboys had been the handiest NFC East workforce to win Sunday, and they jumped into first position at 2-3, hanging them a half-game ahead of the 1-3-1 Eagles. Washington (1-4) has misplaced 4 directly and is down its most sensible two quarterbacks, whilst the Giants are 0-5 and looking to cover at the back of the Jets on the again pages of the New York tabloids.

The Eagles have not misplaced their quarterback, however they have got brutal injury problems in their very own proper. If you indexed their most sensible 11 avid gamers on offense on paper, simply 4 are wholesome and taking part in at this time: Carson Wentz, Miles Sanders, Jason Kelce and Zach Ertz, the latter of whom stuck one go for six yards on six objectives on Sunday. Ertz had 70 yards in the Week Three tie with the Bengals and has 76 yards in his different 4 video games in spite of taking part in nearly each and every snap. He’s on the box, however the famous person tight finish does not appear to be his standard self.

Heading into Week 5, the Cowboys had been nonetheless liked to win the department, with the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) giving Dallas a 62.1% probability of saying the NFC East. Those odds will upward thrust with the Cowboys’ profitable and transferring into first position. The Caesars sportsbook nonetheless lists them with +1100 odds of profitable the NFC, neatly forward of the Eagles at +2200 and just right for the 6th-very best odds in the convention.

Nobody in the Cowboys group would have sought after to begin 2-3 and lose Prescott for the season, but when the ones two issues had been going to occur, those are mainly the perfect imaginable surrounding cases wherein the workforce may to find itself.

Should the Cowboys cross out and get some other quarterback?

The Cowboys will transfer ahead, for now, with Dalton and 7th-spherical select Ben DiNucci below middle. Former backup Cooper Rush is a loose agent after he was once minimize by means of the Giants in September, and if Dallas had been going to make a transfer so as to add substitute-stage intensity at the back of Dalton, Rush would appear to be the first choice for the Cowboys. Clayton Thorson, who was once on the Dallas follow squad in 2019, is on the Giants’ follow squad and may well be claimed. The Cowboys would most likely want a type of two to different follow squad choices akin to Davis Webb, Trevor Siemian or Garrett Gilbert.

The Cowboys signed Dalton for the situation wherein Prescott were given injured, so I do not believe they’d make a transfer for a extra vital quarterback straight away. If Dalton had been to get harm or battle, despite the fact that, needless to say Jerry Jones has been competitive making in-season strikes in the previous. The Cowboys despatched a 5th-spherical select to the Bills for Matt Cassel and a 7th-spherical select when Tony Romo was once injured throughout the 2015 marketing campaign and then inserted Cassel into the lineup forward of Brandon Weeden. (Kellen Moore, now the workforce’s offensive coordinator, completed the season as the Dallas starter.)

There are a couple of quarterbacks who may well be on the marketplace, despite the fact that a few of them are not nice suits for the Cowboys for one explanation why or some other. Possible industry applicants:

Dwayne Haskins may well be to be had after Washington benched its 2019 first-round pick in prefer of Kyle Allen. Haskins wasn’t at the stadium on Sunday, as he handled a abdomen virus, and his long term with the workforce turns out murky. Haskins was once reportedly a decision thrust upon the prior soccer regime by means of proprietor Daniel Snyder, and new trainer Ron Rivera it appears had sufficient clout inside of the construction to bench him. The former Ohio State famous person has two years and $4.2 million in assured cash left on his deal after this 12 months, however whilst the cash would not be a topic for the Cowboys, Washington most likely would not deal Haskins inside of the department.

Nick Mullens was once benched by means of the 49ers for C.J. Beathard after a disastrous run towards the Eagles remaining Sunday. The 49ers resisted industry talks for Mullens remaining offseason, however the 25-year-previous is a limited loose agent after this season and an unrestricted loose agent the following marketing campaign. With Jimmy Garoppolo suffering and the 49ers most likely eyeing a wild-card spot after falling to two-3, they is probably not keen to send Mullens to a imaginable rival, particularly for the reason that the 49ers play Dallas in Week 15.

Blake Bortles was once signed by means of the Broncos and is on the energetic roster as one in every of 4 Denver quarterbacks. If Drew Lock is in a position to go back from his shoulder injury and play the Patriots next week, the Broncos would most likely be in a position to transport on from Bortles or Jeff Driskel. Dalton is most likely higher than Bortles or Driskel, however the Cowboys could possibly select one in every of them up at no cost in per week or two.

Tyrod Taylor misplaced his task to rookie Justin Herbert in Los Angeles after suffering a punctured lung at the hands of team doctors. Taylor is a protected pair of fingers and has a $1 million base wage for 2019, however the Chargers would possibly need him as a veteran backup at the back of Herbert, and we are now 3 years got rid of from Taylor’s most up-to-date efficient run as a quarterback in Buffalo. It’s unclear whether or not he’s a viable professional starter outdoor of offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s scheme.

Brian Hoyer is some other quarterback who misplaced his task after a temporary run as the starter, with the Patriots benching him halfway thru the 2nd part of his Week Four get started towards the Chiefs. New England spent all offseason speaking up Jarrett Stidham and would most likely proceed with the 2nd-12 months quarterback if Cam Newton is not able to play. Hoyer would not price a lot, and he has been a reliable backup in years previous. He could be the maximum believable industry addition for the Cowboys if Newton is in a position to go back next week.

The most attractive deal could be for Sam Darnold, who was once the topic of some preliminary trade chatter this weekend. The Jets are 0-5 and on tempo to complete with the worst document in soccer, which might transparent a trail for them to take Clemson sign-caller Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 total select in the 2021 NFL draft. Darnold, who neglected Sunday’s loss as a result of a shoulder injury, has flashed moments of possible throughout his time with the Jets, handiest to be let down by means of subpar resolution-making and one in every of the league’s worst supporting casts.

The Darnold scenario looms massive for the Jets as a result of a metamorphosis in the league’s 5th-12 months choice language. After this 12 months, they’re going to must make a decision whether or not to select up Darnold’s choice for the 2022 season, which would come with a considerable lift. In years previous, the 5th-12 months choice was once assured just for injury at signing, which allowed groups to transport on if a participant wasn’t spectacular in 12 months 4. Under the new CBA, the 5th-12 months choice is absolutely assured at the time a workforce selections it up, which means that the Cowboys would then be on the hook for Darnold in 2022, when they may not use Darnold as their starter.

If the Jets decline the choice, despite the fact that, 2021 turns right into a lame-duck 12 months for the former 3rd total select. If the Jets can get Lawrence, declining the choice could be the obtrusive transfer, and transferring on from Darnold would give the Jets a greater probability of grabbing Lawrence. Schefter reported that common managers round the league did not see the Jets selecting up a primary-spherical select for Darnold by the use of industry, however a 2nd-spherical select generally is a extra life like haul.

The Cowboys would be capable of encompass Darnold with vital guns. Trading for Darnold would additionally put them in a captivating scenario. If Darnold stepped in and performed neatly, the Cowboys may select up his choice and transfer on from Prescott, industry Darnold or decline Darnold’s choice and select up a compensatory select when he strikes somewhere else. If he struggles, neatly, the Cowboys could be out a 2nd-spherical variety minus a imaginable midround compensatory select. I’m no longer certain the Jets are keen to deal Darnold, and I do not believe it is sensible for the Cowboys to head after him until Dalton is not so good as anticipated, however there is a slender band wherein a Darnold industry may make sense for Dallas.

What occurs if the Cowboys make a decision to transport on?

There are a couple of situations wherein Prescott may transform a loose agent in the spring. If he is coping with headaches from the injury, the Cowboys is probably not keen to make use of a 2nd franchise tag. If Dalton excels, the Cowboys would possibly attempt to signal Dalton to a Teddy Bridgewater-sized deal and use the financial savings to shore up their protection. If they industry for any person akin to Darnold and he breaks out, they might attempt to cross with a inexpensive choice at the place. None of those situations is particularly most likely, however they are price discussing as we wrap up.

If Prescott had been to transform a loose agent, so long as he’d be capable of end up that the ankle is therapeutic, I do not believe he would have a lot hassle getting an important touch, albeit one thing in need of Deshaun Watson‘s extension with the Texans. It is not tricky to consider Prescott signing a 3-12 months, $105 million deal on the open marketplace, giving him the probability to hit loose company once more as he turns 30.

As it stands, there may well be as many as 8 groups in the marketplace for a brand new quarterback, together with the 49ers, Bears, Broncos, Colts, Jaguars, Jets, Patriots and Washington. The Buccaneers, Saints and Steelers would sign up for if their long term Hall of Famers retire this offseason. Some of the ones wishes are going to be met by means of draft selections, and the Saints most likely wouldn’t have the cap house to head after Prescott, however there could be an important marketplace for the former fourth-spherical select.

Of the ones groups, the Colts spring to mind as the most blatant suitors. They’ll have the cap house and a transparent trail to a beginning task, for the reason that Philip Rivers is on a one-12 months deal. They price accuracy and are an analytically-vulnerable group, suggesting that they may see extra in Prescott than different groups. General supervisor Chris Ballard additionally puts vital significance on persona, and Prescott is considered a pacesetter and a very good presence in the locker room.

The perhaps consequence, despite the fact that, is that no longer a lot adjustments in any respect. I nonetheless assume Prescott is earmarked for a 2nd franchise tag, and it is an consequence either side will most likely see as a good choice after a troublesome 2020 marketing campaign. Prescott and the Cowboys was hoping for 2020 to be a coronation 12 months, with the 5th-12 months quarterback residing as much as lofty expectancies and main the workforce on a deep playoff run.

Instead, Prescott’s giant 12 months got here to an lead to the center of October in entrance of 1 / 4-complete AT&T Stadium. The season is not over for Dallas, however its desires of creating it to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995 most likely rode off on a cart Sunday night.

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