Teams who have great quarterbacks shouldn’t wait to pay them

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The recent explosion in quarterback contracts has made one dynamic incredibly clear: The longer a team waits to pay a quarterback, the more expensive it will be.

That’s what the Cowboys currently are facing with Dak Prescott, a fourth-round pick in 2016 who has started 64 of 64 regular-season games and who now carries a franchise tender with a value of $31.4 million for 2020. The Cowboys want to pay him, they’ve tried to pay him, and the inability to get him paid has made the contract more and more and more expensive.

Whatever the team was willing to offer at the outset of the 2019 season, the price tag escalated as Prescott made it through another 16 games and, in turn, escaped his four-year rookie deal without injury. Now, the dynamics of the tag ($69 million for two seasons and then a potential Kirk Cousins-style shot at the open market) make it a lot easier for Prescott to request, and eventually to receive, $35 million or more per year.

It all could have been avoided, and teams that will be dealing with similar situations should use the Cowboys’ current conundrum as a cautionary tale for their own potential “good problem to have” — a young quarterback who becomes eligible for a second contract.

The best approach, especially for a player who wasn’t selected in round one and who has only a four-year contract, would be to make the player an offer the day after the final game of his third regular season. That’s when, by rule, the window opens for a player to sign a second contract. (A surprising number of highly-compensated team employees and agents aren’t aware of this.)

If the Cowboys had approached Prescott after a Week 17 2018 win over the Giants and before the wild-card game against the Seahawks with, say, a five-year deal that would have paid Prescott $27.5 million per year (i.e., the Jimmy Garoppolo deal), maybe Prescott would have taken it. While the new-money analysis would have resulted in reports that Prescott actually signed a four-year extension with a new-money average value of $33.8 million, it would have been a five-year, $27.5 million contract from signing.

Fast forward 16 months, and Dak reportedly wants a deal worth more than $35 million per year from signing. That’s a $7.5 million bump, per year. That’s $37.5 million on a five-year deal. And that’s a direct result of the Cowboys not getting a deal done the moment the window opened on signing Prescott to a second contract but instead waiting and waiting and waiting and, consequently, watching it all get more and more expensive.

“As money gets bigger, deals get harder,” Cowboys executive Stephen Jones told #PFTPM on Friday. The Dak money got a lot bigger because the Cowboys didn’t do a deal when it would have been easier. And the longer they wait, the harder it’s going to get.

89 responses to “Teams who have great quarterbacks shouldn’t wait to pay them

  1. I expect Bill Belichick will heed your advice with his 4th-round draft pick when Stid the Kid blows up this year. All hail the hoodie.

  2. Dak is not a great QB, how good do you think he would surrounded by less talent???The Cowboys backed themselves into a corner because Jerry kept talking about how great he was before getting a deal done.

  3. Dax isn’t worth the money, hell Danny White was better…What has Dax done to deserve that much money? It’s not like the Cowboys don’t suck with or without him.

  4. Be careful.. A contract was signed and with no fans in attendance the salary cap has to take a major hit next year. That should result in lower salaries for the highest paid athlete because of the percentage of cap tied up with one person..

  5. It’s nice to see the franchise tag that the owners so desperately love come back to bite them.

    Please, please get rid of these artificial mechanisms that keep players off the free market. No more RFA designations, no more tags. No more mandatory 4 or 5-year rookie deals. No more 5th year team options.

    Let the players earn their value. No more overpaid 2nd contracts and under payed rookie deals.

  6. Just cut him loose and go with Dalton. Get on with it. Anyone with common sense sees this is the route it’s going. Save $25M this year. Dalton would take a 3 yr/$60M deal and you save year after year. Win/win

  7. I believe the proper analysis would be that teams shouldn’t pay average to above average quarterbacks as if they’re elite. Neither Kirk nor Dak have proven to be able to put a team on their back. They are both just guys who are asked to do little more than to just not mess it up. Paying to dollar for a game manager QB, in an offense predicated on the run is abysmal cap allocation.

  8. They should have paid in order Prescott, Cooper and Byron then finally Zeke. Running back production is easily replaceable in today’s NFL.

  9. One day the QB market will implode. Too many average QBs are being paid like elite players. I like Jimmu G but 27 million? Even the elite QBs are getting stupid money. Now the wr market is hitting 20 million. Maybe there should be a cap on his much one individual can make. Why should a QB get 40 mil while the guys keeping him upright only make 7? If I’m an owner, I start drafting a new QB every four years and pay to have massive talent around that QB.

  10. The real cautionary tale is the effect this will have on the league when even slightly above average qb’s start making $35 million or more a year.

  11. “Teams who have great quarterbacks shouldn’t wait to pay them”

    The Cowboys are not breaking that rule. If they had a great QB, they would have paid him.

  12. So, what about teams who have QB’s that think they are much better than they really are, like the ones you mentioned?

  13. I’m just so glad my team isn’t in this situation. If you had to win a playoff game right now, who would you rather have as your starting QB, Tom Brady (at $25M/yr) or Dak Prescott?

    I’m totally okay with paying elite pay for elite quarterbacks, but not every quarterback is elite. Prescott has proven to be an above-average QB who won’t turn the ball over. That’s not what I’d want my team to pay over $35M/yr for.

  14. I have been warning and warning for years and years. No kidding!

    Cap hell with Flacco started this and now the Chiefs sold
    their soul and it’s a good thing Jerome Boger did what he did, because they will never win again.

    Schefter reporting 30-80 mil drop in cap ceiling in 2021.

  15. Only 1 great QB currently: Mahomes.
    Brady is past his prime.
    Brees, Big Ben & Rodgers are also past their primes.
    The rest are pretenders.

  16. May 11, 2020 at 11:06 am
    One day the QB market will implode. Too many average QBs are being paid like elite players. I like Jimmu G but 27 million? Even the elite QBs are getting stupid money. Now the wr market is hitting 20 million. Maybe there should be a cap on his much one individual can make. Why should a QB get 40 mil while the guys keeping him upright only make 7? If I’m an owner, I start drafting a new QB every four years and pay to have massive talent around that QB.
    ——————————————————————–
    In theory, you’re right. But there is only one QB, and five offensive linemen.

  17. I think you will see some Moneyball decisions coming to the NFL.

    Pay your QB $8-$15 mln to be an okay starter, build a great line, pay your RB $2-$4mln to run through big holes, pay your WR $5-$10 mln to get open, with a great one going for $15 mln. No elite will take that little? No problem, pay 3 good to very good WR $10 mln each to get open.

    Pay your D-Line well, but not crazy. You don’t need A guy that needs 2-3 guys to block him… You need 3-4 guys that need 1-2 to block them. Numbers wise you will win that every time.

    The point is, in the NFL with the big injury risk, the big fail risk, it is not worth it to pay 1-3 players huge money and scrimp everywhere else.

  18. Dak is a mid tier quarterback that has been surrounded by one of the best Offensive lines and running backs in the leagues. How many of the NFL starting quarterbacks could match or do better than what he has done over the last 4 years? My guess is that number is close to 20.

    He is not enough of a difference maker to garner that much of his teams salary cap. Shoot, I bet you Nick Foles at his current $8M per year (with the team spending the other $24M – $28M on other players) could take the team further than Dak at $32M – $36M per year.

  19. I know there is injury risk, but that’s a lot of money the QB would be passing up by signing early

  20. Few ways to look at this. If they had signed him the money would have used cap and Dak would have about $25 million in pay and more in bonus sooner. In normal times he would have had big jump in his investments. he also would have been a year sooner to a 3rd contract

    Now what do you the millions upfront Zeke, Wentz and Goth is worth? likely they lost 10-30%.

    Rumor from the Dallas writers is the number per year is in agreement (around $35) . Dak wants 4 years Cowboys want 5. If I was Dak I take it now, telling ok you get 5 years for cap management but I want a clause I can opt out if not a top 10 pay level at year 4. I also get 4 year guaranty

    Reasons to sign now, risk of injury and bigger risk of fewer games, no season played. Meaning his franchise tag pays less or no money out. Future short to possibility of even lower/no rise in cap.

  21. At least the current rookie deals for QBs make them earn their pay; before you had all kinds of QB busts making bank before they ever even threw a pass … Leinart, Russell, Bradford, Young, Weeden, Harrington, Quinn and others …

  22. Dak reportedly wants a deal worth more than $35 million per year from signing

    Absolutely not! He is nowhere near worth that and if Dallas caves then they are just plain stupid, especially when they have Dalton who can probably perform better. They have enough talent on offense that they’ve been able to be average the past several seasons with a below average QB. They don’t need a $35M QB. I’m not sure who told Dak he’s worth $35M but they are badly mistaken. However, we are talking about the Jones boys. Hopefully they will come to their senses and say no thanks.

  23. Dallas should rescind the offer. This recent explosion in QB salaries will probably result in teams moving on with a QB after their rookie deal is done and going with another rookie in the draft or young veteran QB through a trade. Most starting QBs aren’t worth $35 million a season, including Dak or Wentz, who has had one very good season & has since been injured most of the time.

  24. Correct advice when you do have a great QB. But a borderline top 10 guy–which is what Dak is–is not “great” it is only top 1/3 of the league. And those sorts of guys you don’t have to overpay.

  25. Would not surprise me to see Mahomes and Watson get Goodell money. Dak failed last year to up his game. He has flashed at times but his inability to beat teams with a winning record even with a great Oline and a stud RB is a huge red flag.

  26. Prescott and Cousins are bad examples.
    Neither did much until their fourth year.
    Are you going to give out a huge contract based on one years performance?
    That usually ends in a disaster.

    Pat Mahomes is a better example. Pay him now or PAY him later.

  27. I don’t know, cousins looked pretty damn elite in that saints game. His line got destroyed in San Fran. Not his fault they couldn’t even block a beach ball that day.

  28. If what Cris Simms is hearing is true…
    The Cowboys are willing to pay Dak $35M per year. The disconnect if that Dak wants $45M in the 5th year? Quick math(35M*5=180M)

    Dak is gambling 180M holding out for that last 10M?

  29. I agree, teams should not wait. I have no idea what Dallas is doing. Most miss the point on this, saying Dak should not get paid. Do you understand the starting QB market? If you say Dak shouldn’t get paid 33+, then you should also say Goff, Cousins, Wentz, Stafford and Tannehill should not have gotten their mega deals as well.

  30. Why on earth should the Cowboys pay Prescott 150 million if he couldn’t win them anything on his rookie deal? Its simple-

  31. Staubach > Aikman > Romo > White > Bledsoe > Dalton > Prescott

    35 million? Oh hell no!!!

  32. Best case scenario, Dak holds out and Dalton gets all the reps in training camp. Cowboys see what they have in Dalton. If he looks good trade Dak. If he looks bad, start looking at college QBs. Don’t pay Dak.

  33. Should be: Teams with great quarterbacks should wait to make sure they are great before paying them.

    Which is exactly what the Cowboys are doing. Don’t handicap your franchise over an average QB.

  34. “The other side of that is you sign a Goff deal, to early. Way to early.”

    Goff is probably going to own all the Rams franchise passing records by the time he’s done.

  35. News flash. Dak isn’t “great” so the article is misdirected. Good, but not great.

  36. Quick question here….If Dak is as good as advertised how come his Cowboys couldnt win the worst division in the NFL?

  37. These guys best be paying attention to current events. The gravy train may not last much longer. Does anyone truly believe the NFL/NBA/MLB will be the vast money cash cow it was just 4 months ago?

  38. arealisticpackerfan says:
    May 11, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins aren’t great quarterbacks.

    ————————————————————

    They have zero Super Bowls between them. Yet they are worth millions?

  39. We have all seen Prescott make some great throws, but he folds under pressure and can be inconsistent, and without Elliott he is just average. He’s nuts if he want elite QB money.

  40. The flip side of this js the raiders-Derek Carr rams-Goff even eagles looking like they now have buyers remorse..

  41. Teams should all agree to not overcompensate QB’s. That is the real problem. There are starting players who make less than 1/50th of what a top QB is making.

  42. Staubach > Aikman > Romo > White > Bledsoe > Dalton > Prescott
    __________________

    Aikman? Not better than Romo or Bledsoe. Aikman was on an all-time great team. His stats don’t measure to a lot good QBs. McNabb, for instance, has far superior stats when compared to Aikman.

  43. Dak Prescott cannot win the weak NFC East last season, how “great” is he really? Jimmy G. took his team to the Super Bowl and should have won it if not for the defense collapsing in the last 6 minutes of the game, and many people still thinks he is crap. Perception and reality are often very different.

  44. Dal isn’t anywhere near great, and shouldn’t be paid as such. Dallas already offered him more than he is worth and he balked. Now they have a HUGE upgrade in Andy Dalton. Tell Dak to go test the open market.

  45. Well Dallas doesn’t have a great quarterback despite what Collinsworth and Aikman say.

  46. Aikman was big in the biggest games … please dont compare him to McNabb or Romo

  47. joetoronto says:
    May 11, 2020 at 11:42 am
    This is why we locked up Derek early.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________
    Carr is a bust. Just lose baby!!!

  48. I thought this article was going to be about paying Mahomes, Watson, and Jackson now given that it mentions great quarterbacks. Didn’t see any great QBs mentioned.

  49. nite2al says:
    May 11, 2020 at 3:33 pm
    Staubach > Aikman > Romo > White > Bledsoe > Dalton > Prescott
    __________________

    Aikman? Not better than Romo or Bledsoe. Aikman was on an all-time great team. His stats don’t measure to a lot good QBs. McNabb, for instance, has far superior stats when compared to Aikman.
    =======================

    Stats are for excuses and LOSER’s, Super bowl wins are for WINNERS.

  50. Unfortunately, QBs will always get paid by NFL teams regardless … Since 2000, 60 QBs have been taken in the first round. 27 of them have busts, Only 16 have had an average to great career, while 17 over the last three years are pending, other than Rosen, who I have added amongst the busts, so far.

  51. At the end of all this, it is you and I who pay those millions in ticket and merchandise prices. If top QBs made 10M a year would they starve, no, but we might be able to bring our kids to the game and buy them something. But no. I must be wrong.

  52. There are only 3 QB’s I’d take ahead of Prescott right now, if I’m building a team. Mahomes. Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow. Then a couple right there with Prescott – Goff and Russell Wilson. Then there are some guys who are great QB’s but getting up in age _ Big Ben, Rodgers, Brady, Brees. Then a couple youngsters that I like – Daniel Jones, Minshew. So Prescott is a top 5 QB in my book. By the way, I’m never wrong.

  53. There are only six great QBs in the NFL today, and Mahomes is the only one of the six not getting paid appropriately in NFL terms.

    There are more than six NFL QBs that are grotesquely overpaid.

    I have no idea why anyone is sweating the coin that the mediocre Prescott gets.

  54. jackedupboonie says:
    May 11, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    Dak is Danny White

    ============

    Hardly. Prescott has all of one playoff win in 4 seasons. White led the team to the conference championship game in each of his first 3 seasons as starter. While also being the team’s punter!

  55. Teams that have great quarterbacks should not wait to pay them. Agreed. However Dak is not a great quarterback, ergo …

  56. As Ravishing Rick Rude once said on his bodyguard gig : “Pay me now, or you will pay later”

  57. Robert Zak says:
    May 11, 2020 at 6:18 pm
    Can’t wait to see how lack of fans in the seats affects the salary cap.
    ________________________

    EXACTLY, yet there are many people who claim that the fans at games don’t matter, it’s all about the TV revenue, well those people are about to get a rude awakening! I don’t know how anyone can claim $3Bil of ticket revenue doesn’t matter and that number is low because I only figured an average of $200/seat and 60K seat stadiums(the average is 69,444), so it’s probably more like in the $4-5Bil range just for ticket sales! If the asses aren’t in the seats they don’t even have the opportunity to sell them all the over-priced jersey’s, beverages and food and that’s a couple of billion more so we’re talking about a total way of north of $7Bil, how can that kind of coin “not matter”?

  58. D1442zzy says:
    May 11, 2020 at 5:13 pm
    nite2al says:
    May 11, 2020 at 3:33 pm
    Staubach > Aikman > Romo > White > Bledsoe > Dalton > Prescott
    __________________

    Aikman? Not better than Romo or Bledsoe. Aikman was on an all-time great team. His stats don’t measure to a lot good QBs. McNabb, for instance, has far superior stats when compared to Aikman.
    =======================

    Stats are for excuses and LOSER’s, Super bowl wins are for WINNERS.
    ___________________________

    So according to you there is 1 winner and 31 losers ever single year? What list is your team on most years = LOSERS!

  59. Anytime you can hand out a huge contract to an athlete with a small sample size ya gotta do it, amirite

  60. If I’m Dallas, I certainly hope he signs the franchise tender. $32 million is too much but a new deal would cost them even more and hurt them in future years if Dak doesn’t get better. If Andy Dalton beats him out for the job in 2020, they would be able to walk away from Dak without penalty.

  61. I love Dak… But, not for this money. Let Dalton earn his $7M and sign someone cheap, like Rosen (or who ever) to back him up. McCarthy likes to develop QBs. There will plenty of decent QBs available in the near future that should be salivating at the mouth to play within this offense. Too much money tied up in D4K at this point. Love him but, NO.

  62. The NFL is a business. They are not a charity. For the guys in the 20’s and 30’s, it’s all business. The teams need to share the money. They QB needs an OL, RBs, WR’s, TE’s. And they should be compensated adequately.
    However, both Brady and Brees have been the faces of their teams forever. NE should never have allowed Brady to leave and paid him. Unless NE plans to fold this year so they can get a shot at Trevor Lawrence, I don’t get it.

  63. I think the premise of this article is flawed. Starting with the headline, Dak is a good QB but not a great QB. Trying to work a deal after the last reg season game and before the first playoff game is a 6 day window where most teams would want their QB focused on the opponent rather than a few extra dollars in a negotiation. The author seems to blame the whole thing on the Cowboys and nothing on Dak. The deal Dallas purportedly offered several months ago was supposedly north of 30M/yr. Dak took the team to 8-8 and could not win the title in the worst division in football last year. Again, Dak is good, not great. The smart move is for the Cowboys to pull the tag. They made a competitive offer and Dak refused. The landscape changed when Dalton signed. I’d thank Dak and let him go and boost Dalton’s deal to starter money and then look for a future QB in the next couple drafts. The Cowboys are over a barrel because they want to be, not because they have to be there. If a team has the nads to pull the tag then the Cousins con job will be a lot more risky for future players.

  64. Steve Cunningham says:
    May 11, 2020 at 9:38 pm
    D1442zzy says:
    May 11, 2020 at 5:13 pm
    nite2al says:
    May 11, 2020 at 3:33 pm
    Staubach > Aikman > Romo > White > Bledsoe > Dalton > Prescott
    __________________

    Aikman? Not better than Romo or Bledsoe. Aikman was on an all-time great team. His stats don’t measure to a lot good QBs. McNabb, for instance, has far superior stats when compared to Aikman.
    =======================

    Stats are for excuses and LOSER’s, Super bowl wins are for WINNERS.
    ___________________________

    So according to you there is 1 winner and 31 losers ever single year? What list is your team on most years = LOSERS!
    ———————–
    Steve, Don’t be so brain dead. Comparing McNabb to Aikman is not even close, who’s
    the Winner and who’s the loser.

  65. Ron Jull says:
    May 11, 2020 at 11:52 am
    Signing Dak only cements the Cowboys deeper into mediocrity…..

    That comment alone cements you deeper into stupidity…

  66. Yeah, Dan Marino is a big time loser. If you think Aikman is better than Marino, you know nothing about football.

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