The Cowboys still hope to sign quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term deal. And the Cowboys still insist that his value doesn’t hinge on week-in, week-out performances.
“No, it doesn’t,” COO Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, the day after Prescott threw for 397 yards against the Vikings. “This is a full body of work. He’s doing a great job. I mean, obviously, he played one of his better games that he’s ever played. They basically dared Dak to beat them. I thought he made all the plays and I thought he played an outstanding game, one of his better games he’s played.”
Indeed he did, and it definitely won’t hurt Dak’s value. It also may not enhance it, either, because at this point his value is what it is.
With Dak willing to play out the last year of his rookie deal notwithstanding the injury risk (marketing deals and insurance make injury risk easier to carry), his value on a new deal will be determined by the level of the franchise tag that the Cowboys apply. At this point, there’s no reason for him to take less than a deal based on the tag, and there’s no reason for the Cowboys to do the deal now if Prescott isn’t going to take anything less than a tag-based deal.
The question then becomes whether the Cowboys apply the non-exclusive tag and risk another team signing him to an unmatchable offer sheet, or whether they’ll use the exclusive tag, which could have a starting point of more than $33 million for the first year.
Of course, that’s not the end of it. If the Cowboys tag Prescott as a placeholder for a pre-July 15 deal, Prescott could choose to boycott the offseason program unless and until he gets his new contract. And while it’s never ideal for a starting quarterback to skip the offseason program, it becomes even more problematic if the Cowboys don’t make it to the playoffs and the Cowboys hire a new head coach, who would be breaking in a new offense without his franchise quarterback.
So Jones is correct; the week-in and week-out performances do not matter. Dak’s value has become set. The only question at this point is whether the two sides do a deal based on his value now, after the season, before the tag deadline, after the tag deadline, or before the July 15 cutoff applicable to long-term deals for franchise-tagged players.