Dak Prescott has unique leverage over the Cowboys

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At a time when there’s plenty of talk about players betting on themselves, Dak Prescott made one of the biggest self-bets in NFL history. And he has won.

Prescott refused any and all long-term offers from the Cowboys, embracing the risk of injury and ineffectiveness in his contract year. Now that his contract year has ended, he’s on the brink of a long-term deal from the Cowboys, one that will be fueled by leverage that no player has had since Joe Flacco in 2013.

Seven years ago, Flacco parlayed his preseason refusal to sign a multi-year deal into a Super Bowl MVP and a long-term contract struck as the Ravens faced the dilemma of applying the non-exclusive franchise tag or the exclusive tag. That’s the posture Prescott and the Cowboys currently occupy, with Dallas having to choose between the non-exclusive tag (at roughly $26 million per year) and the exclusive tag (currently projected to be $33.4 million). The former allows a team to sign Prescott to an offer sheet that the Cowboys can’t/won’t match, surrendering a pair of first-round draft picks as compensation. The latter keeps Prescott of the market, but it unlocks a potential year-to-year approach that sees the tag spike to $40.08 million in 2021 and $57.715 million in 2022.

Either version of the franchise tag presents another problem for the Cowboys. If tagged, Prescott’s leverage becomes enhanced by the fact that he can choose to take a page from the Le’Veon Bell playbook and stay away from the offseason program, training camp, and the preseason — without being in violation of his contract or otherwise losing a dime. Which would significantly complicate Mike McCarthy’s first season as head coach of the Cowboys.

The path to a solution is clear, but not cheap. The Cowboys need to treat the tag deadline as a hard deadline for getting a long-term deal done, and they need to offer Prescott a deal in the range of $31 million per year.

Yes, $31 million per year. Not $35 million or $37 million or $40 million. Because Prescott has no contract, the new-money analysis won’t drive the valuation artificially north. The value at signing is what matters for Prescott, and Russell Wilson‘s contract has an at-signing value of $31.4 million per year (the new-money average is $35 million).

If the Cowboys don’t make that kind of an offer, Prescott can choose to pursue the Kirk Cousins strategy, with a caveat. Unlike Cousins, who promptly signed his two franchise tenders in Washington, Prescott has the power to throw a major wrench in the preseason preparations by simply refusing to accept the tender until it’s time to start playing regular-season games.

63 responses to “Dak Prescott has unique leverage over the Cowboys

  1. 2019 was the cowboys big push.
    That’s why Garret was canned, because he blew it.

    They have $110 mil invested in 9 players. None of those players are named Dak, Cooper, or Jones.
    Add the expected $30m for Dak and you’re looking at 78% of the cap to just 10 players. GoBirds.

  2. Please Jerruh, please sign Dak and Dunk to a massive contract. The rest of the NFL will be so happy to see you hamstrung to an average QB for elite QB money.

  3. Maybe Jerry can get the Patriots’ Kool Aid recipe and b.s. Dak into taking less for the good of the owner… er uh, I mean the good of the team.

  4. “Dak Prescott made one of the biggest self-bets in NFL history. And he has won.”

    NONSENSE. Prescott won nothing – at least Flacco WON the Super Bowl. Prescott didn’t even make the playoffs and got his coach fired.

  5. qbs holding out is the dumbest thing they could do. especially as you are expected to learn a new playbook.
    also qb contracts are ridiculous. there is absolutely no reason why any team should pay a middle of the road qb 30 million dollars (or more). If you think Dak is anything but the 11-20th best qb in the league then you havent been paying attention. just because he has the star on his helmet and therefore the media slurps him up doesnt mean he’s that good.

  6. The non-exclusive tag is the only way to go. See if another team wants to trade high draft
    picks for an average QB. Using Flacco as an example was a bad choice other then to show
    the folly of giving an average QB a contract you are going to regret.

  7. The problem with waiting to sign until the regular season begins, is the risk of injury off the field, risk of Dallas changing their minds like Carolina did with Jos Norman (there IS a draft coming up), or other event. Once he signs the franchise tag, it’s fully guaranteed, right? So it’s a bit of a game of chicken between Dak and the team. So far, he’s been winning the battle for leverage.

  8. he has absolutely zero leverage! TAG him simple as that & hes playing for far less than a new deal will cost and with free agency and the draft who knows who may be available within the nxt two years…

  9. Flacco won a Super Bowl. Prescott just cruised in with 8-8 record for second place in a horrible division. Sure his stats are nice but so were Ryan Fitzpatrick’s.

  10. Leverage? This dude had a stacked team and could not make the playoffs in a division won with a 9-7 record. He had a win and you’re in matchup with the Eagles and lost. The head coach just got fired. Giving the QB a big contract immediately after the coach was canned for under performing is not something I would think is a trend in the NFL. Let Dak go, offer Brady a big deal over 1-2 years and draft another QB. Brady wants to win without BB, McCarthy wants to make a splash quickly and JJ needs a SB soon. Win-win if it works. Giving Dak 30-40 million dollars is not a good plan.

  11. “…fueled by leverage that no player has had since Joe Flacco in 2013.”


    and how’d that work out for flacco and the ravens?

  12. I’m a Dallas fan, how did he win? All his stats were in garbage time playing catch up after we played lethargic the whole game, 8-8 season and no playoffs. His 2016 season was better than this one. This team is a joke

  13. “….but it unlocks a potential year-to-year approach that sees the tag spike to $40.08 million in 2021 and $57.715 million in 2022.”


    My God, 58 million for one years worth of quarterbacking in the NFL. What a world we live in.

  14. Some may disagree but thinking of even giving Dak $26M per year is way too much. He benefits from a great offensive line and a powerful running game but he’s not going to beat teams with his arm. Paying him $31M per year would be just plain stupid. However, Jerruh gets what Jerruh wants.

  15. The smart move for the Cowboys is the non-exclusive tag with an offer considerably south of 30M/yr. Go for those two 1st rounders and hope to get the next Jackson or Mahomes.

    But this is the Glitz and Glamour Cowboys we’re talking about, so…

  16. Tough spot, Dak’s body of work so far: Good not Great. If the entire offense is not on their game he cannot carry a team.He regresses to making costly ints. In the end either bite the bullet and pay him or franchise him. But the bottom line is you cant pay everybody and they are well on their way to a bad cap situation.

  17. If he’s smart he’ll pursue free agency. A team without a legit GM isn’t going to get you a championship. Once you’re a multimillionaire a handful of millions in either direction can’t compensate for a Super Bowl.

  18. Everyone rooting against the Cowboys is rooting for a big Dak contract. They put up 9 points against the Eagles when they had to win. Dak isn’t special.

  19. As a Boys fan and Prescott fan, I would still say he either signs a somewhat team friendly deal or offer the Non exclusive tag. That way you either get him cheaper than “market value” or you secure 2 first rounders and then could sign Brady for a year or two or Bridgewater for a few years and I think you’d end up ahead of the game.

  20. Here’s hoping but doubting that Jerry Jones has as much courage as Dan Synder and lets the Cowboys version of Kirk Cousins walk.

  21. They need to sign him at this $30+ million price because the new players deal with new TV contracts is going to raise the cap making 30 a bargain.

  22. They should do a 2 year deal on Brady for $20M/ year. At least he has a better chance of getting them to the playoffs.

    With DAK you know you’ll be just good enough to not make the playoffs. What good is that? Especially for $30M?

  23. I understand that it’s his life and he has to think about his own welfare and that of his family, etc, etc.

    But it’s still kind of depressing that he’s holding over a barrel the team that picked him up off the draft scrap heap to give him his shot. Without Dallas taking a chance on him, he’d probably be a backup at best now, if not out of the league.

    No matter what, he’s going to be set for life, as will his family, for generations to come. Literally the only question is how much of that he’s going to take away from his current & future teammates to hoard it himself.

    It was the same with Elliott. This new brand of megastar is going to reduce the fortunes of all other players and result in permanently incomplete teams.

  24. either way the Cowboys are in trouble. Live in QB cap hell like some and let everyone around him go or take a chance on a young qb that can work in the system and compete….

  25. It will be interesting to see how all this works out cap-wise for the Cowboys — that’s a lot of mouths to feed.

  26. This is exactly why there’s a transitional tag. Let someone else tell him he’s not worth what he thinks he is and match them……. or not

  27. Dak should ask for $35 million/yr. Wilson’s contract isn’t relevant–that was then, this is now. The coming new CBA and higher cap means more money for QBs. Dak can tell the Cowboys sign me now for $35 million or see the price go up by $5 million/yr.

  28. allsyntax says:

    Just like Kirk Cousins had unique leverage over Washington? ha ha


    Yes, Cousins had all the leverage and got the last laugh. He got a huge payday and escaped from one of the most dysfunctional teams in all of sports. Huge win for him.

  29. billzbubb says:
    January 22, 2020 at 12:39 pm
    allsyntax says:

    Just like Kirk Cousins had unique leverage over Washington? ha ha


    Yes, Cousins had all the leverage and got the last laugh. He got a huge payday and escaped from one of the most dysfunctional teams in all of sports. Huge win for him.
    Only because the Redskins were stupid enough to franchise tag him–twice.

  30. Dak should get at least 37K per year. Quality QB where everyone in his tier got paid. Plus, you’ve had him on the cheap for 4 years. Tine to pony up! If you guys knew anything about football, you would realize Dak has immense leverage. You think you can pluck a much better than average QB right off the tree? Talk to the lower 17 NFL teams.
    You guys never want to see anyone get paid, like the money saved is going into your pocket. Dak will get at least 40 mil, if not from the Cowboys, then some other team. It’s just simple football economics. See Cousins and Goff.

  31. The Dak hate confuses me. He’s consistently gotten better and is certainly starter quality. He’s not in that elite category at this stage and is not without his flaws, but this is the running rate to sign a franchise qb. If he didn’t sign with Dallas he will get $30mil+ from someone. I would take my chances that he continues to improve vs going back to the draft to gamble.

    Salary cap shouldn’t be an issue. They have a lot of free agents coming off the books this year and have always found a way to make it work when needed.

  32. Jerry will get a deal done with Dak and use the tag on Amari instead. Just over pay Dak, he’s hasn’t proven he should get anything north of 35 million; more like south of 34 million maybe.

  33. Prescott has Garrett type leverage, Jerruh loves him. Brady and Rivers aren’t going to go there, foolish commentary. The cap is going to increase so they’ll be able to pay Prescott. They’ve committed themselves to him – wonder if he’s had a slumber party at Jerruh’s like McCarthy did?

  34. Dak could afford to take a chance because he knew the usual biased outlook would doom the coach and not him. Next go around he gets the blame. Take whatever Dallas offers and keep your spot.

  35. Refusing to sign the tender does ratchet up leverage, but unless it forces a deal that year it runs into big problems, because then you end up playing on the deal with no preseason in a new offense, your numbers tank and so does your market value and leverage.

    If he gets the exclusive tag he should just run out and sign it. Thats all the money he needs in his life right there, and he can bend the Cowboys over a barrel whenever it is finally time to pay up.

  36. With the Cowboys O, any GOOD QB would have gone to the playoffs and won something.

    Nobody’s going to challenge the Boys’ ownership of Dak if they hit him with the non-exclusive. He may be worth a 3rd rounder, certainly not a pair of 1st rounders and a massive contract. Nobody wants to tie their team to that for 4 years.

    Inking Dak to a long-term deal would be equivalent to when the Phins made Tannehill their franchise QB. Meaning, a bad idea. Forget about how Tannehill played this season for TEN, he was a below-average QB in MIA and they made a huge mistake handing him the keys.

  37. Let him walk.

    Us the $30+M you just saved to sign one of the many FA QBs (Tannehill, Dalton, Bridgewater, Keenum, Fitzpatrick, Rivers, etc…) for a season – around $17M. Draft a QB in the first round (Eason, Fromm, etc…). Take the $15-18M you saved to sign Cooper and still have a hefty downpayment for Quinn or Jones.

  38. He put up points and points against bad teams and then against good teams he didn’t show up until the fourth and made it way closer than it was. You would think the Jets Packers bills and bears games were close all game if you didn’t watch or look at the play by play

  39. Until Brady, and possibly Brees, have committed he has NO leverage. Dak is good but must have all the pieces around him to possibly be successful. Would Dallas let Dak walk? I don’t know but if Brady or Breese becomes available, certainly at less than $30 million, if I was Dallas I would certainly consider it.

  40. jedimasterbates says:
    January 22, 2020 at 12:41 pm
    I like Dak, he’s a good QB but I wouldn’t pay him huge money. He’s good, not elite. Lots of good QBs out there.


    Umm no, there really aren’t. Who’s gonna replace him? Bridgewater? Tannehill? Winston? Keenum? Rivers? No thank you to all of those guys. Dak is better than every FA QB (Brees and Brady excluded, they’re not coming to Dallas). Dak is gonna get paid by the Cowboys, it will 100% happen.

  41. when a QB takes a big chunk of the cap
    leaves little to sign a good O-line or top receivers
    he worth what he’s worth but sometimes you have to see the big picture
    dona’t blame him for taking the team to the bank
    but blame him, for an average team for years to come

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