ProFootballDoc: Did Cowboys overpay for an injured player again?

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The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott have agreed to a huge new deal. With Prescott coming off an ankle fracture dislocation and two surgeries, was this smart?

Has Jerry Jones overpaid again? It wouldn’t be the first time he paid an unnecessary premium on a player coming off injury. 

During the Week 5 game in 2020, Prescott suffered a significant injury where his toes were pointed “east” and his kneecap pointed “north.” We broke down his injury in real time and expected it to end his season but not his career. No one can doubt his toughness, and I even made him my ProFootballDoc podcast episode 50 “Beast of the Week,” as he tried to slam his ankle back in place before he calmly waved for help.

The team has all the information they need to make an informed decision. He was injured as a Cowboy, had surgery by Cowboy doctors and is rehabbing with the team. Dallas knows exactly what they are getting. 

The second surgery causes some pause, and it has been reported the second surgery was “not related” to the initial injury, which doesn’t make sense to me, but “Dr. Jerry” should know the whole story. 

When I was the Chargers head team physician, Darren Sproles had a similar injury in his second year and returned to play at a very high level. He remained one of the quickest in the league for 15 years. So I have confidence that Dak will play at near 100% for the start of the 2021 season, based on the initial injury.

In the end, this is not an “Alex Smith” situation as there is no infection, and Dak should recover and be close to himself in the short term. The four-year length of the contract was likely mutual. The player wanted his freedom for a second bite at the apple when this contract expires. At that time, he will still be relatively young at age 31, and the salary cap will likely be higher. The team also has the desired protection from potential long-term arthritis developing in his ankle, which is the biggest medical risk here.

Quarterbacks are worth their weight in gold, and the Cowboys seem to have taken a medically-reasonable approach here. They have certainly factored in the medical risk. Time will tell on the money perspective, but this shouldn’t be a contract they regret like they did the one they prematurely awarded to Jaylon Smith, coming off a knee and nerve injury.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. great stuff profootball doc.

    I am skeptical of dak and the cowboys marriage pre and post injury. his game is a bit unique, but he relies on his legs to buy him time to throw. i think he throws from outside the pocket more than most. that ankle may lead to stress on the other leg and the joints in the injured leg.

    seems to me the torque from throwing on the run will be an almost impossible situation with a repaired ankle.

    my left torn acl caused me numerous issues for my other leg. dak has a long road ahead and the cowboys overpaid for a wait and see athlete.

    in my humble opinion

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