ARLINGTON, Texas — Dak Prescott went through a range of emotions over the last two days, ending with the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-16 victory against the Las Vegas Raiders to close out the preseason on Saturday.
Prescott had fun calling plays and directing an offense that put up 457 yards and 28 first downs, and expressed disappointment for teammate Will Grier, whose time with the Cowboys is about to end with the acquisition of Trey Lance from the San Francisco 49ers to be the No. 3 quarterback.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones did not give Prescott a heads up that a trade was coming and did not speak with the quarterback until before kickoff Saturday.
“I can’t say that I necessarily expected (a heads up), no,” Prescott said. “I understand though that that’s business. I understand that they’re probably on a timeline, they need to get something done. He felt like that strengthened this team and, yeah, ready to welcome (Lance) and, yeah, I mean knowing the strength of the quarterback room that we have. Honestly right now, my heart and my mind is with Will. So it’s a tough situation, honestly. Love that guy to death over there. Plays his ass off, comes in prepares the right way each and every day.”
Prescott was asked if he was surprised by the trade for Lance, who was picked up for a 2024 fourth-round pick.
“You’ve been in this league eight years, been on this team,” Prescott said, “it’s hard to say that I was surprised to be honest with you.”
Prescott said he crossed paths with Lance during a marketing event in 2021 before Lance was picked No. 3 overall by San Francisco.
“I mean obviously understand it’s a business,” Prescott said. “That’s a first-round talent and you’re always trying to make your team better. But that was the front office so we’re going to welcome him as we do any teammate and hopefully he just makes us better and we’re going to continue to get back at it and know that we’ve got one goal as a team.”
Prescott is signed through 2024 and the Cowboys have mentioned the desire to sign him to an extension, which executive vice president Stephen Jones reiterated on Saturday. Whether the addition of Lance gives the Cowboys any leverage is not a concern to Prescott.
“I’m going to leave those talks in the office where business is handled,” Prescott said.
Coach Mike McCarthy approached Prescott during the week about the possibility of calling plays against the Raiders. McCarthy has a history of turning over the responsibilities to a different assistant coach for the final preseason game.
Prescott spent his time behind McCarthy on the sideline, calling the plays into Grier, who finished with 305 yards on 29-of-35 passing with two touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns. Coach Mike McCarthy said it was the best preseason performance of a quarterback he has been around since coaching Matt Hasselbeck in 1999.
“When I got the phone call, I called Will immediately,” McCarthy said. “I just asked him to go out there and play his ass off tonight. It was a great opportunity and the team rallied around him … I’m just so proud of him.”
Prescott took no credit.
“I’ve been around for a while so I kinda understand the flow, understand what you’re trying to get,” Prescott said. “Knowing the quarterback, knowing what he’s good at, knowing what he wants to do I think is a huge part of it. I give credit to that as much as me calling a couple of plays. That guy played his ass off and anytime a quarterback plays like that, it doesn’t matter who’s calling the plays.”
He downplayed his impact even more.
“It’s preseason football,” Prescott said. “Those guys gave us three coverages on the other side. I’m not going to sit here on my high horse like I just called the Super Bowl or something. It was a game and it was fun. It was fun to do and it was fun to experience that.”
McCarthy was pleased with Prescott’s showing and believes it will help in the quarterback’s preparation for the regular season.
“It’s attempts at the plate, the emotional, mental rehearsal and just being in it,” McCarthy said. “I can tell you from experience when you’re out of here, you can watch all of the film you want, you can sit there and do all of the analytics you want and read all of your reports, but if you’re not in it, you’ve got to be like that (snaps fingers) to call plays. That’s a really good experience for him to play the game. For him to call it, to me, that’s part of preparing to play.”