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When Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones guaranteed his squad would be "all-in" after getting face planted in a 48-32 NFC Super Wild Card Weekend loss against the seventh-seeded Green Bay Packers, many people naturally expected him to position the team to spend this offseason.

Even 2023 Second Team All-Pro and NFL MVP runner-up quarterback Dak Prescott admitted he was on the edge of his seat to see what moves the Cowboys would have in store. 

"Yeah, I've heard that one. I'm excited to see it honestly," Prescott said on March 4 when asked about Jones' claims about being all-in. "I don't know. I can't say I've had talks with him about what is all-in and how you plan on making those moves. So, let's see. I'm excited about it."   

In order for the Cowboys to have the ability to make moves, Dallas needs to extend Prescott to spread out his current 2024 cap hit of $59.5 million in the final year of his four-year, $160 million contract to future years. 

"I don't, I don't think it is," Pro Football Hall of Famer and Cowboys legend Troy Aikman said on March 4 when asked if Prescott's long-term future with Dallas is in question. "I think he'll, I don't know, I've been listening to you guys on television and on radio. They have to do his deal don't they? They have to free up some money, so he'll be here for a little while longer, and he should be. He's proven he can play at a high level, and I know that they've come up short as a team in the last few years, but he's been a great player in this league, and his best years are still ahead of him."  

However with Jones not yet extending Prescott or 2023 receptions leader, Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb -- who is entering the final year of his rookie deal on a $17.991 million fifth-year option -- Dallas entered free agency with $2.2 million in cap space. The result of waiting to take care of his two biggest stars has led to Jones' only move of free agency thus far being to re-sign long snapper Trent Sieg.

That's led Cowboys legend Dez Bryant, the wide receiver who is Dallas' all-time receiving touchdowns leader (73), to declare the team is in the midst of the dreaded r-word: rebuilding. The Cowboys are the only team since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger to win 12 or more games in three consecutive seasons and not reach a conference championship game in any of those seasons. 

"I love my boys, and I'm going to go on the record and say it: it's not enough in this draft to give up what you gave up and expect to win this upcoming year," Bryant tweeted on Tuesday. "These past two, three years was the Cowboys' best chance to play in the Big Game. I think they are rebuilding in my opinion."

Eight days ago, Aikman echoed Bryant's sentiments when discussing the 2023 season. 

"I do think this last year is going to be a year that the organization and the players, everybody involved looks back on and feels that they really missed an opportunity," Aikman said. "There's been some of those in the last 20 years when they've been the No. 1 seed, but the way the year ended for them to be the No. 2 seed, I really thought that they would be in the NFC championship game. I'm certain they thought the same thing."  

The way Jones spoke earlier this offseason conveyed the message the team was going to act like a contender. If they do end up losing eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and others in free agency and don't end up signing replacements, that missing depth could lead to a season with fewer than 12 wins to say the least. That would set up Prescott to be the target of even more vitriol from Cowboys fans. Bryant doesn't feel that's fair. 

"Get ready to take the blame Dak because I don't really see no help coming your way unless a miracle happens," Bryant tweeted. "Everybody in the NFC East got better during free agency but the Cowboys. The draft will not be enough."

When you're the quarterback of the Cowboys, you're always prepared for an intense fan reaction, positive or negative. 

"I benefitted from the success of the teams that I was a part of in January," Aikman said when asked if Prescott is criticized too much for the Cowboys' recent postseason shortcomings. "I understand there's two side to that coin. Until you do it, there's always the questions about whether or not you can [win the Super Bowl]."

Just two days into free agency's legal tampering period, Jones and the Cowboys front office isn't putting Prescott in a position where he would realistically have a legitimate opportunity to answer those nagging questions in Dallas.