The Cowboys have giveth, but they will not be taketh-ing away.
The labor deal allowed the Cowboys to use the franchise tag to keep quarterback Dak Prescott from becoming a free agent in March. The labor deal also allows the Cowboys to rescind the franchise tender at any time before he accepts it.
Appearing on Friday’s #PFTPM podcast, Cowboys COO, executive V.P., and director of player personnel Stephen Jones was asked whether the franchise tag could or would be rescinded.
“Absolutely not,” Jones said. “Dak’s our quarterback for the future. Obviously, this hasn’t been the easiest thing. As Jerry says, ‘As money gets bigger, deals get harder.’ Certainly, we’re talking a significant amount of money here which he so deserves. Absolutely not. Dak’s going to be our quarterback this year. He’s our quarterback for the future. We think the world of him. He represents our franchise in a very positive way in terms of what we want as a leader of our team. He’s just an outstanding man, and we would never rescind the franchise tag.”
Here’s what this means, as a practical matter: If the Cowboys and Prescott don’t get a long-term deal finalized before the July 15 deadline for doing so, Dak will make $31.4 million this year. Then, in 2021, the Cowboys would have to offer Prescott $37.68 million (a 20-percent raise over his 2020 salary) in order to keep him from becoming a free agent.
That’s $69.08 million for two years with a 44-percent raise over $37.68 million ($54.25 million) for a third franchise tag in 2022 (or another 20-percent raise — $45.21 million — for a transition tag in 2022), and that’s why Dak reportedly is looking for a deal that averages $35 million per year. If Dak is willing to play on a year-to-year basis for two more years, he’ll pocket nearly $70 million in salary (plus enhanced marketing money for being the quarterback of America’s Team) and he’ll either hit the market or the ultra-jackpot in 2022.
By ruling out rescinding the tender, the Cowboys have accepted the fact that they’ll either give Dak a record contract or see the clock tick loudly toward a potential financial nightmare, or the departure of their starting quarterback.
The Cowboys also have forfeited the vague threat of dropping Dak onto the open market in, for example, August, once budgets have been blown and depth charts have been set and the kind of money the Cowboys are currently offering simply would not be available from one of the other teams.
Then again, the Cowboys may feel differently come the middle of August, if they can’t get a deal done by July 15 and if Dak chooses to exercise his right to skip training camp. And if/when someone points out that the Cowboys ruled out rescinding the tag in May, the Cowboys can simply borrow a line that became relevant in NFL circles this week.