Now that Jerry Jones has decided Mike McCarthy will be returning for a fifth season following the Dallas Cowboys' wild-card defeat to the Green Bay Packers, the team's offseason planning can move on to next steps.
One of those steps is about the quarterback position and what Dak Prescott's future is in Dallas.
The Cowboys quarterback is coming off a year that put him in the MVP conversation. His contract runs through the end of the 2024 NFL season and carries a $59.455 million salary-cap hit. It was reported in December that it is expected he will work out a long-term contract extension this offseason that will put him in the echelon of the league's highest-paid signal callers.
Despite the performance against the Packers, which saw Prescott record his first multi-interception game since Week 5 and was inefficient until it was too late, there are no signs that Jones or McCarthy are looking to move on.
"I believe in Dak Prescott. I think he's clearly the answer," McCarthy said on Thursday. "He's part of the solution moving forward. As difficult as this time is right now, when we can work through this emotional period that we're in, we'll continue to build off what he brings to the table."
During the four seasons McCarthy and Prescott have worked together, Prescott has had some of his most productive times. Their two full seasons working together — that weren't affected by a Prescott injury — Prescott threw for at least 35 touchdowns and 4,400 yards with at least 590 passing attempts.
The playbook meshes well with Prescott's ability. But as we've seen, there are areas that need improvement if the Cowboys are going to finally reach their annual high expectations.
"I have unbelievable belief in Dak," McCarthy said. "I think he clearly has another step. I think this offense has suited him well. I think the things we were able to improve on — you know, it's a system built around making the quarterback successful. The growth opportunity that we both see was something that we are excited about."
The partnership has worked so well that when asked about McCarthy's future in Dallas on Sunday, Prescott threw questions of his own future with the team out there.
“He’s been amazing,” Prescott said of McCarthy. “I don’t know how there can be [speculation] but I understand the business. In that case, there should be about me as well, honestly … I understand it’s about winning the Super Bowl. That’s the standard of the league and damn sure the standard of this place. I get it but add me to the list, in that case.”
McCarthy added that it's too early to discuss what changes will be coming before next season. He still needs to see if defensive coordinator Dan Quinn moves on to a head coaching job, and the rest of the staff and player evaluations have to be completed before an offseason plan can take shape.
While decisions will be made, McCarthy said he's confident in the direction of the team and has full faith in what the Cowboys have to work with.
"I came to Dallas to win a world championship and that's why I'm standing here," McCarthy said when asked why fans should believe he's the right coach. "Buy into us."