The Dak Prescott negotiations, in a nutshell

Getty Images

The Cowboys are focused on getting quarterback Dak Prescott signed to a new deal before the July 15 deadline for finalizing multi-year contracts with franchise-tagged players. And regardless of whatever has been said or speculated or reported or whatever regarding the negotiations, only two things matter at this point.

First, neither side is going to approach its bottom-line position before the July 15 deadline approaches. That’s a fundamental principle of negotiation; let the deadline drive the process. Any chatter regarding positions at this point doesn’t matter. On or about July 15, the two sides will get down to business.

Second, whether a long-term deal gets done depends on one thing and one thing only: Whether the Cowboys will make Dak Prescott an offer that will get him to trade in his contractual rights without a new deal.

It’s not about the current quarterback market. It’s not about where the quarterback market may be heading. It’s not about whether the cap will go up or down next year. It’s about the gigantic bird perched in Dak’s hand, a bird that has grown morbidly obese on the seeds of delay.

By not swooping in and making Prescott an offer he couldn’t refuse the moment he became eligible for a second contract in early 2019, his leverage grew and grew and grew and now he has more of it than any quarterback in league history.

For starters, he’ll make $31.4 million this year under the exclusive version of the franchise tag, a tag that Stephen Jones told #PFTPM the team absolutely would not rescind. Dak can, if he so chooses, skip all of training camp and the preseason and still make the full $31.4 million.

Come 2021, and absent a long-term deal, Dak will get a 20-percent raise under the franchise tag. That’s another $37.68 million.

Sure, there’s a chance he’ll get injured or he’ll not perform well enough in 2020 to justify a second tag. If so, he’ll have the $31.4 million for one year of service, his endorsement money, and any insurance proceeds. He’ll also have a free and clear shot at the open market.

But if he’s tagged again (the same 20-percent raise applies even if the team uses the transition tag in 2021), Dak would get $37.68 million. That’s $69.08 million for two years of football. Thus, that’s the obvious starting point for a long-term contract — $69.08 million for 2020 and 2021, fully guaranteed.

Then comes 2022, when Dak either gets a 44-percent raise under the third franchise tag ($54.259 million),  a 20-percent raise under the transition tag ($45.216 million), or Kirk Cousins-style unrestricted free agency. So what will the Cowboys offer to Dak beyond $69.08 million over two years to simulate his rights under the third season of a year-to-year approach? And will Dak take it?

Then comes year four and perhaps year five. What would the Cowboys offer for 2023 and 2024 in order to get Dak to trade in his current arrangement?

Ultimately, that’s the question. The Cowboys essentially are buying Dak’s rights under the franchise tag in 2020, 2021, and 2022. What’s the price on those rights?

Only Dak knows the answer to that question, and any numbers that may or may not get thrown around between Memorial Day and Independence Day don’t matter. Once the Roman candles fizzle, nut-cutting time arrives, and the Cowboys either will or won’t purchase from Dak the unprecedented leverage he currently holds.

67 responses to “The Dak Prescott negotiations, in a nutshell

  1. Dak is not being smart here. He is gambling 175M, because he wants to make 185M? Thats a terrible bet, especially when you see guys like Winston getting 1M, Dalton getting 3M and Cam is not even signed.

    The Cowboys should pull the offer and keep him on the Tag(Transition Tag if they can). When next seasons lower salary cap numbers appear, then negotiate with much lower numbers.

  2. I never like your take on these kinds of situations. No there is another choice, and it is viable. Let him walk. He is in no way, no how, and probably never will be what he is asking for. Everyone else in the world knows this. Even most Dallas fans I know (I live in Dallas). You have Dalton, who didn’t suck on a bad team. Now he is on a team loaded with assets and costs little to nothing – but has a lot to prove. As a business man – and this is business – I would roll that dice, save the cap (for now) and bring in more quality players if you can.

    Or you can take Cam Newton.

    That bird ain’t fat. Unless you are a bad business person.

  3. Rescind the tag! This is bananas. Bidding against themselves. Jerry did not become a billionaire by allowing these kinds of things. No one and I mean no one is paying Dak this kind of money on the open market. Especially now.

  4. “nut-cutting time” Ouch! No thanks! Unless you’re talking about the annual walnut harvest…

  5. Everyone saying he’s not worth it have not watched QB negotiations over the last 10-15 years, the highest paid QB rarely matches up with the best QB in football. The only QB with more wins in the last 4 years than Prescott is Brady – whether or not its the Cowboys, someone would pay him a lot of money. To think otherwise is naive. Just look at Cousins (whom Prescott is better than), he wasn’t even a top 10 QB, but he was good enough and had leverage just like Prescott does, and he got a huge deal. Do I personally think any of these guys are worth that amount of money? No. But the guys writing the checks do, and thats all that matters.

  6. I hope he gets the largest payday and really blows up their salrey cap. This team is in cap hell for the Baxter 5 or 6 years.

  7. It is a weird world when your backup QB is pulling down $3 million and he’s arguably better than the guy you want to spend $30+ million on.

  8. A 12-18 record outside the NFC East and a 0.433 winning percentage against teams with a winning record. Dak’s good, just not good enough.

  9. I’m still not sold on the idea that he has unparalleled leverage. Before they signed Dalton, I would say he had LeVeon-Bell-with-Steelers-sized leverage – that is, he’s probably their best option and hard to replace and no one on the roster can match him.

    But once they signed Dalton, it looks to me like that leverage deflated considerably. His leverage now seems to be that he’s younger and it’s less hassle to not change QBs. Dalton’s a fully legit replacement for Prescott, and I doubt many people think Prescott’s ceiling is much higher than Dalton’s.

    To me, it still looks like a “good problem to have” for the Cowboys. If Prescott lives up to his potential this season – and the only meaningful potential is probably at least making the conference championship game – then the Cowboys know they’re paying for someone who has proven they can deliver the goods, so paying more will feel worth it. (Good stats and 8-8 ain’t delivering the goods.)

    If Prescott doesn’t live up to expectations, then the Cowboys aren’t on the hook for any contract and can just move on.

    That looks like front-office leverage to me.

  10. I don’t understand why the Cowboys would pay that kind of money to a guy who has yet to win a conference championship.

  11. I just don’t see Dak being worth that kind of money. He doesn’t seem like difference maker. Seems like a great guy and good leader but not a put the offense on his back and carry the team guy. He’s been put in a great system with great line and skill players. This is too much money.

  12. Dalton might actually be better. Certainly more accurate and a much better deep ball. I would be fine with Dalton if the saved money brings some impactful defensive players. Geez.. Trent Dilfer won a Superbowl with way less offensive talent.

  13. They haven’t paid him because, like everyone else not named Dak, they aren’t convinced he’s good enough to commit to long term.

  14. This is how they should handle it – Dak here’s our offer $27 mil a year take it or leave it… He’s not worth a penny more

  15. If the Cowboys pull the tag, Dak is screwed. No team can afford to pay him anywhere near 30 million this year, and even if he gets a decent payday the following year, he’ll never make back the difference in what he gave up this year.

  16. If Cam will come in at a reasonable price on a 1 year deal with good non-guaranteed money for year 2 and 3, I would sign him and stop negotiating with Dak. 3 (former) starting QBs on the team… play ’em all. Winner stays on. Loser(s) are free agents.

  17. They’re crazy. They should let Dak go, play Dalton this year and either sign him to a long-term deal or draft a QB next year. They are going to handcuff themselves and have to let other good players go and be stuck in mediocrity.

  18. I hate to say it, but Dak is a middle of the road QB at his best. He hasn’t done anything to prove he’s not. For his career he is 64-64 and has a 1-2 playoff record, no where close to commanding that much money. If I were the Cowboys, I’d recend the offer and let him walk. Dalton did better in Cincy with less weapons. If Dak gets the offer he wants his probably because the media is making Dak 100x’s more than the QB he really is.

  19. Oh well. This is Jerrah and Stephen’s problem. I’ll always be a Cowboys fan but my expectations have gotten very low the last few years. I don’t expect them to win a super bowl as long as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum Jones are running things.

  20. In a salary cap system you cannot massively overpay at any position and compete long term. Giving Dak $38 million per or whatever is a massive overpay. He isn’t Mahomes. Dak isn’t even Deshaun Watson.

    He’s more like the Dolphins paying Suh $19 mill. Great player, performs well, but still a massive cap-killing overpay.

    And after all, they drafted him in the fourth round. They found Romo as a UDFA IIRC. Jerry hasn’t won a lot since he broke up JJ’s band, but he has shown he can find good QBs on the cheap. Why not do that?

  21. The Cowboys would be wise to consider trading Dak and hopefully getting 1st round pick(s) for the next draft. There are many NFL teams that might be interested in Dak. Invoking the franchise tag to see if Dak can progress or work out a trade has become the option. Dak is not a pro QB as his accuracy is not good or improving, has a problem with the long ball, even the short ball is a problem at times, gets rattled easily, questionable ability to read/understand defenses, and is an option QB. And worst of all Dak is inconsistent in all of the above. Time to move on with Andy Dalton and not spend a fortune to resign a QB that is more of a back up. The Cowboys as a team have carried Dak and he has not demonstrated that he can reverse that and be a leader. Without a good supporting team Dak struggles to even be average. Pay a QB more than 12% of your cap will not allow a team to fill in the required positions to be playoff bound! Hopefully the consideration for his trade will get you a good QB draft prospect to learn under Dalton. The Jones’s idiocy is getting old. And if you are not exploring trading Dak, you are foolish!

  22. The better performing teams are not alone in their concern for overpaying certain player positions at the determent of not being able to afford the supporting players who allow these players to perform at higher levels. As rookie salaries are transformed into higher salaries based upon performance, many want to be paid liked the top dog in their position. The NFL salary cap prevents that from happening and prevents teams from holding on to skilled players. This explains why the Tom Brady’s take less in salary to hold together the best team they can. This could lead to salary caps for player positions that in total can’t exceed the team cap. And 12% cap for QBs should be the starting player cap point. For 2020 the NFL team salary cap is $198.2 million. 12% of the cap is $23.8 million leaving $174.5 million for the remaining 54 players plus the practice squad. No matter how you divvy up the remaining cap after paying the QB their 12%, the team will suffer in paying for talent to support the QB. This is a Team sport that require a good supporting cast of players to be successful. Without a good supporting team, players will struggle to even be average.

  23. The other side of the equation is how much does Dak stand to lose if the Cowboys change their mind and rescind the franchise tag?

    It’s pretty well documented that no other team has an open QB spot and $30M in salary cap space for 2020, so he’d likely have to compete with Cam Newton to sign with the first team that has a starter get injured at a discounted rate or sit out 2020 completely.

    Then if the 2020 season is played with no fans in the stands, the salary cap will go down in 2021 and may not recover for several years if those same fans decide they like the television experience better than in-person.

    If Dak doesn’t sign the franchise tender or agree to a long-term deal now, it may take him 3 or more seasons to earn the $31.4M that’s on the table for 2020 right now.

    The bottom line is that Dak is a great fit in Dallas and both parties would be smart to agree to a lucrative, long-term extension right now.

  24. No other team would sign this guy to a longterm deal. None. Cowboys hold all the cards and the dalton signing basically means Dak has to take less or they’ll let him walk. I can see Dak NOT being signed by a team at all if he was a free agent. Think about it: teams want rookie quarterback contracts or sure things like PM, Watson, Jackson, Wilson, etc. Dak is not either of those. Just like cam newton: too good to be a backup but not good enough to think longterm solution when a rookie quarterback contract would benefit the team more and the play may not be much of a drop off. The only team that is willing to pay him is Dallas. He better take what their next offer is or they will let him walk now that dalton, a talented quarterback with lots of experience and cheap money, is breathing down daks neck.

  25. Cam Newton and Jameis Winston had a free shot at the open market and that hasn’t turned out so well for them.

    If Dak holds out and Dalton performs well why would they go back to him? Dalton is a quality QB but mostly has been surrounded by a sub-par supporting cast.

    The Cowboys will have to pay one of them big bucks, whether it’s Dalton if he becomes the starter or Dak. They can’t escape it

  26. I would trade him for whatever I could get. His cap space will crush the team.

  27. Quick question: who would you rather have, Dak or Cam? I thought so. Prescott is a legend in his own mind.

  28. Dak is about as good as Cousins.
    If I were the cowboys, I would rescind the tag and sign Newton for a year with Dalton as competition.
    That’s cheaper than Dak.
    Let Dak find some other team.

  29. I understand the need of the Cowboy fan base to hype the team’s players, but to any objective observer, the offensive line starters are missing Fredbeard, and the other two all-pros are having injury problems. The defensive line is composed of bargain-basement rejects from other teams with substance abuse problems, DeMarcus Lawrence is overpaid and unproductive, and the linebacker corps is hampered by LVE’s neck injury, a surgically repaired knee bothers Smith, and an aging Sean Lee has seen his best days. The only way the above will make it to the Super Bowl is by purchasing tickets. And, yet, the Dallas fan base is now claiming that the weak-armed Dalton now has a deep ball when Dak’s deep ball proficiency is rated as No. 1 in the NFL. The Jones boys must be proud of the hold they have on the Dallas fan base.

  30. The Dak Prescott contract is only interesting to Cow fans. He is not the kind of quarterback who will get the Cows into the Super Bowl, and giving him top dollars merely means that it will be even harder for the team to surround him with good talent, making it even harder for Dallas to even make the playoffs. Dak Prescott is not in the same league as Mahomes, Brees, Brady, Rodgers, or even Big Ben. In fact, he may not even be as good as his current backup Andy Dalton.

  31. Prescott is a good, but not great QB. With the cap, you cannot overpay a QB like that and expect to get far. Teams do much better with good QBs on their rookie deals. Dalton would not be a very big drop off from Prescott as far as production and he’s a better deep ball thrower.

    There is no doubt Dalton would take an extremely team friendly deal to be the starter in Dallas. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d take under $25 million/yr. if the guarantees were right.

    It is astounding to me that the Jones’ don’t see this. If they sign Prescott to a market setting deal, their Super Bowl window is about 1 year. The cap hit will kill them.

  32. Disagree with the idea that Dak has all the leverage. What would he get if the Cowboys pull the tag and go with Dalton or even Newton? No way he comes close to the tag numbers on the open market. If they rescind the tag he’s looking for a backup job most likely.

  33. I continue to be amazed by people who say ‘trade Prescott for a first round pick (picks) ‘. Most of the commentary on here says don’t pay him, he’s not worth it but you think the Cowboys should get a first round pick in a trade? Jerruh will pay him, they would have let him walk by now if they weren’t. I don’t know much about Dalton but he was let go by Cincinnati, so be careful what you wish for. If he was that good, BB would have signed him as a back up, he is better than Hoyer.

  34. This is just stupid. They signed Dalton and he’s a capable QB and is a TON cheaper. Dak just wants too much and I can’t believe Dallas is even considering giving him a long-term deal for $35M per. What has he done that tells them he’s an elite QB. He’s not. He’s not worth what he thinks he’s worth. I still think it’d be funny for Dallas to rescind the tag and cut him. Nobody could give him anywhere near what the Cowboys were willing to give him. Were they to do that I suspect Dak would come back begging them for the $35M.

  35. Cowboys are not going to let him walk. Just get that idea out of your head. There will be no rescinding of the tag. They’d get a third round compensatory pick at best out of it. Jerry’s not about to do that, especially when Washington is sitting there with $30+ million in cap space and Haskins at QB. Dan Snyder would pull the trigger so fast, you’d miss it if you blinked.

    They can’t trade him either. Even if they wanted to. Not without Dak’s approval. He hasn’t signed his tender, so he’s not theirs to trade.

    Cowboys are going pay through the nose for Dak. Doesn’t matter if it’s via the franchise tag or a long-term deal, it’s going to happen.

  36. It’s astonishing to me how many people here think Dak isn’t good. Worse yet, that you can get better play from Andy Dalton, who is 32. Whether you think $35 million is too much for a good-not-great QB is irrelevant. That’s the going rate. If Andy Dalton were as good as Dak, he wouldn’t have signed for $7 million. People just really don’t like NFL players making a lot of money for some reason.

    And I’m an EAGLES fan saying this for crying out loud.

  37. Brady was the reason the Patriots had a dynasty. Not just his play on the field. He allowed Belichick resources to build a championship team every year. Brady not Belichick was the reason. what is Dak’s record against playoff teams last year. Exactly, he isn’t even average.Surrounded by a great O-Line great Rb very good WR. Let him go and build a great Defense.Dak does seem like a great guy, and a good leader. I am not against him, but this is a joke Jerry.

  38. With those numbers this is crazy. He’s nowhere near that kind of player.

    Say whatever else you want but if the Boys pay Dak what he wants, the Cowboys will for sure struggle for the duration of his contract. He will eat too much cap and there will be no depth.

    He isn’t good enough to outweigh all that. Only a couple guys in the league are.

    Russell Wilson is much more that type of player but even he is causing the Seahawks some problems with depth that they aren’t overcoming…yet. Great player but RW’s 35 million is about as much as the Hawks could possibly pay and still have a chance to win it all.

    Dak is no Russell Wilson.

    As a Hawks fan I hope they DO sign him and suck for years…as a football fan I know that they shouldn’t.

  39. He wants a lot of money for having won in a very mediocre way. If you want to get paid like Mahomes, play like Mahomes. You play like meh. Watch your own tape and call your agent.

  40. The Cowboys would be wise to consider trading Dak and hopefully getting 1st round pick(s) for the next draft.


    The Cowboys can’t trade Dak, he’s not under contract.

  41. Everyone saying he’s not worth it have not watched QB negotiations over the last 10-15 years, the highest paid QB rarely matches up with the best QB in football. The only QB with more wins in the last 4 years than Prescott is Brady – whether or not its the Cowboys, someone would pay him a lot of money.


    Who would pay him money now? Florio is right that Dak has all the leverage, but that is only because the Cowboys have said they won’t rescind the franchise tag. If they were willing to rescind that, Dak’s leverage would be what he could get in the open market. Name a team that would give Dak a long term contract worth over $30 million a year? That’s what the Cowboys have offered.

  42. It’s funny as even Jerry admits that the offense runs through Zeke, not Dak. Jerry will pay though because that’s what he does.

    Negotiates through the media because he loves the attention and then gives the star players whatever they want and declares victory.

  43. I think his leverage is overstated (greatly). Maybe the Cowboys already offered him as much as their cap allows (or that they deem prudent) and he wants more? If so, let him go, let some dog team overpay for him (he won’t get the same money elsewhere), and move on. He’s a good player, but is he one that you blow your whole cap situation for? How many games has he taken team on his back and won? (Patrick Mahomes style)

  44. > By not swooping in and making Prescott an offer he couldn’t refuse
    > the moment he became eligible for a second contract in early 2019,
    > his leverage grew and grew and grew and now he has more of it than
    > any quarterback in league history.

    Certainly not when Prescott’s talent is average at best and Dalton is on the Cowboys roster. The Cowboys have won 4 playoff games since ’94. Prescott’s leverage would be tenfold what it is now if he had won more than one of them.

  45. That is a lot of money to go 8-8. Cam Newton could do that without picking up a playbook.

  46. Skip all of training camp, show up to play in week 1, crap the bed, then go ahead and talk about all of the leverage you thought you had. See how many teams would really rather have you than a now-healthy Cam. To maintain leverage as a player, you have to have confidence that the team would win fewer games without you. Is that really the case?

  47. let him play under the tag.. with all that talent on offense and a Mike McCarthy with somethign to prove, he should be putting up historic numbers. If he doesnt let him walk and be another teams problem.

  48. The bottom line reason why the Cowboys won’t win a championship any time soon: the players are more worried about themselves and making money than they are about winning. This is something the patriots have figured out. If Prescott was the qb of the pats, they would have already packed his bags. Same goes for Elliott.

    Prescott and Elliott will set this team back years with their cap hits.

  49. Dangerous game when your leverage is only with a single team. If negotiations with Dallas would fall apart what is his market value? He’s a top 10 (ish) QB who is more likely to be top 15 in a couple years than top 5. He’d find a new home easy enough but not on a record-breaking contract. He’s not a Mahomes who could pull any number out of the sky and have teams killing themselves to meet or exceed it.

  50. Why would JJ pay top of the market money for a slightly above average NFL starting QB? This negotiation has been going on for over a year. Neither side appears to be willing to give in to get it done. I might be wrong and had Dak been a free agent this off season would he have gotten a contract even close to 5/$175M? Maybe it’s time to cut bait, play Dalton for a year and draft another QB next year?

  51. “Thus, that’s the obvious starting point for a long-term contract — $69.08 million for 2020 and 2021, fully guaranteed.”

    You’ve got that backward, that’s the *maximum* the Cowboys should pay for guaranteeing the two years, in fact in return for the guarantee the amount in the second year should be discounted.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.