"I think No. 1, you just look at what he's done during his time in the league. I think he's been impressive," McCarthy said of Prescott. "I've been impressed with him since the first time I saw him play live up in Green Bay [in 2016], when they came to Lambeau there. First impressions, I think are very important when you see quarterbacks on the field because in-person evaluations, particularly at that position, have always carried more weight as far as how I felt about a player. So I think he's gotten off to a great start. He's built a really good foundation. I'm told he's a tremendous leader.
"Defenses get you to the championship. The quarterbacks win championships. And I definitely think Dak is that quarterback."
Prescott is coming off a season in which he had career highs in passing yards (4,902) and touchdowns passes (30). He has been to the playoffs twice (2016, 2018) with a wild-card win against the Seattle Seahawks in 2018.
McCarthy said he has been in touch with Prescott since taking over as head coach in January, but what's not clear is how much Prescott will be around during the offseason.
For the first time since September the Cowboys and Todd France, Prescott's agent, had conversations regarding the quarterback's contract on Wednesday. The meeting did not last long but the Cowboys hope to get a long-term deal finished before needing to use the franchise tag on Prescott.
Without a contract, the Cowboys will have to use the tag on him by March 12 in order to secure his rights at least through 2020, although they would have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal.
If the Cowboys tag the QB, it is possible Prescott could miss some or all of the voluntary offseason program or mandatory minicamp. He would not have to show up unless he signs the tender.
"Dak is in a business situation right now," McCarthy said. "I've gone through this as a head coach with a number of my players in the past. Like anything, it's just time to be patient and let the business people work out the business matters. That's really where we are as an organization and that's where Dak is, in a personal fight to get a contract done."