Emmitt Smith knows how Dak Prescott might feel right about now.
Once a franchise star in search of a new contract, Smith understands Prescott's situation. Smith had to hold out into the regular season before Jerry Jones and Smith's representation came to an agreement. He understands a key term in negotiations: leverage.
"If you understand the business of leverage, when you have leverage then you try to set the rules," Smith explained during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan. "And the only way you fight leverage is you fight it by establishing your ground and I think at some point this stuff will subside and it's not that important right now. ... It's important to press people that need something to talk about because you don't have much to talk about because we don't have camps and minicamps and so forth. And now we're talking about pandemic left and right, 24-7, seven days a week, however you look at it.
"So you look for something to discuss, but as far as the players go, Dak is not worried whether or not he's going to get signed. I'm not even concerned. I believe he will get it done. And I believe the Cowboys will get it done because we don't have room to be playing games or playing chicken."
Smith is right: The Cowboys can't exactly go into the season playing hardball with Prescott. That won't happen, either, because Prescott is under the franchise tag, which comes with a deadline to sign it that will allow the Cowboys to know exactly how their financial situation will look come August. They've also hedged against catastrophe at the position by signing veteran Andy Dalton.
Smith held out and ultimately got what he wanted, becoming the highest-paid running back in the same year in which the franchise tag was first created. His leverage was an 0-2 start for the Cowboys, who realized they needed Smith more than they needed to save the money. It proved to be the wise decision when Smith ended up earning league MVP honors and the Cowboys went on to win Super Bowl XXVIII.
Prescott's case comes down to a decision between two very different long-term scenarios: Agree to a lucrative, long-term deal with the Cowboys, or play 2020 on the franchise tag and risk the financial security gained from a long-term deal in the hopes of earning even more money with his performance this season.
Anyone planning for their offspring's college education or their own retirement -- or even to build an inground pool in their backyard -- would scream take the money! The risk has come back to burn professional athletes across the four major North American sports in the past. But there's an element of pride in such a risk taken by a professional athlete, a chance to prove the world wrong and reap the rewards of a once-in-a-lifetime cash out.
The Cowboys, as Smith said, don't need to waste time playing the leverage game with a player who Smith has "no doubt" will "flourish and grow" into a quarterback capable of leading the team to a Super Bowl. With plenty of significant resources invested elsewhere on the roster, the most important position is the one that needs to be secured. Dallas doesn't have room to be playing games, and Prescott is prepared to take care of his chicken.