Use of exclusive franchise tag (and unwillingness to rescind it) shows what Cowboys think of Dak Prescott

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During Friday’s PFT Live, Big Cat and I spent some time making sense of the current status of the negotiations between Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. And Big Cat, as he often sometimes seldom does, raised an intriguing point: If, as Big Cat explained it, the Cowboys were sold on Prescott, a long-term deal already would be done.

It’s intriguing because, if Prescott were, say, Patrick Mahomes, a deal surely would be done by now. But Prescott isn’t Mahomes, the consensus best quarterback in football. It’s unclear whether Dak even fits within the top five, given that players like Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, and Aaron Rodgers have viable claims for the other four spots.

Although the thought is intriguing, the proof regarding the Cowboys’ regard for Prescott is hiding in plain sight, with their use of the most expensive option for keeping him from leaving.

The Cowboys could have allowed Prescott to become a free agent in March, letting a market flush with alternative options sort out Dak’s value. What would he have gotten if available along with the likes of Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, and others? $35 million per year? More? Less?

The Cowboys also could have used the transition tag, at $24.8 million, giving them the right to match an offer sheet that Dak could have signed with another team. Likewise, the Cowboys could have used the non-exclusive franchise tag, giving them a right to match or two first-round draft picks at a one-year tender of $26.8 million.

Instead, the Cowboys opted to apply the Cadillac version of the franchise tag, the exclusive level that keeps Dak away from the market completely — and that pays him $31.4 million for one season. That gesture, an offer to pay him $31.4 million for 16 games (i.e., $1.9625 million per game), proves that the Cowboys believe in Dak. The fact that Cowboys COO Stephen Jones has conclusively ruled out rescinding the tag underscores their affinity for him.

Consider for a moment the implications of removing the tender, if the Cowboys can’t work out a long-term deal with Dak before the July 15 deadline. Would anyone at that point offer him anything close to $31.4 million for 2020? Would he even begin to approach $35 million per year on a multi-year deal? It’s essentially a nuclear option for the Cowboys, but they’re not willing to even open the silo and remind Dak of the presence of the missile.

The Cowboys aren’t willing to play that game with Dak because they want him to be their quarterback well into the future, and they embraced the highest level of the franchise tag in order to ensure that he’ll still be with the team in 2020.

By doing so, they’ve also walked into a potential quagmire in 2021, with a franchise tag of $37.68 million on the docket if they tag him again.

Despite the absence of a long-term deal, the team’s decision to embark on a year-to-year path that gives Dak ample leverage and that makes a long-term deal far more expensive proves that the Cowboys place a very high value on Dak. It also makes even more glaring the failure to get him signed to a multi-year deal the moment the window on a second contract opened in early 2019. Whatever the price now, the price would have been much lower if Dak had been signed with a full season of injury risk remaining under his rookie deal.

While the Cowboys surely hold out hope (they probably shouldn’t hold their breath) that Dak will do a team-friendly deal, they’ve decided that Dak is clearly their guy, and they’ve put their money where their mouth is with a $31.4 million offer for 2020 and a refusal to consider taking that offer off the table.

22 responses to “Use of exclusive franchise tag (and unwillingness to rescind it) shows what Cowboys think of Dak Prescott

  1. To this day they keep saying how great he is, so he wants to get paid like he’s great.

    This is on Jerrah and Son.

  2. I always wonder why teams “talk up” a player during contract negotiations. Maybe to curry favor. Or maybe, if a deal does not get done, Jerry can win in the court of public opinion by saying that he loved Dak and did everything he could to sign him.

  3. Prescott is fine if they are handing the ball off as much as they did his first 3 years in the league. He has a vastly over-inflated overall W/L record because of it.

    They gave him the keys to the car last season and he promptly crapped in the front seat. Sure, he got a bunch of yards in garbage time and against bad team. He was barely serviceable against teams that made the playoffs.

  4. Does it prove they’re committed to him? How committed to Cousins were the Redskins when they did this dance with him?

  5. The tag shows what they thought of Prescott at the time they applied the tag. Signing Dalton shows what they thought of Prescott at the time they signed Dalton.

    “If the Cowboys were sold on Prescott, a long-term deal already would be done.” They already offered him what, $33m/yr for 5 years? If Prescott would have accepted that deal, a deal would already be done.

    Bottom line, a guy who just went 8-8, with a losing record outside the division and against teams with winning records, wants to be the highest-paid player in all of football, and is betting all of it against the few extra millions he might gain over the course of a larger deal.

    How much is enough? With a likely decreasing salary cap, he’s squeezing both the team and his teammates. And the team would be paying for what? More losing when they need wins?

    The Cowboys misunderstand that you overpay for existing performance you can’t live without, not the hope of performance you haven’t seen yet!

  6. Unwillingness to pay Dak what he’s asking shows what Cowboys think of Dak Prescott. See what I did there?

  7. There aren’t very many people on this planet who think Dak is worth more than $25 mill per season. I wish Jerry wasn’t one of those 4 or 5 people.

  8. This is the latest version of Cowboy Roulette. Dak wants to be a Cowboy, and both Jones’ want Dak as their QB. The Jones’ want to pay Dak as little as they can, and Dak’s wants everything he can get. That’s only natural. Both sides will throw figures at the Roulette Wheel and see what sticks. Eventually, they will settled on a few numbers and spin the Wheel.

  9. Cowboys have a solid line, great receivers, and a generational talent running back, and even then Prescott is still at best slightly above average. I don’t think Jerry is stupid enough to sign him to a ridiculous deal, but ya never know.

  10. It’s intriguing because, if Prescott were, say, Patrick Mahomes, a deal surely would be done by now.

    Surely this is tongue-in-cheek. Mahomes is making $825k this year and has been eligible for a new contract for quite some time.

  11. What else is new? This is what happens when you have a delusional GM Jerry Jones
    who lives in his own self made reality. His son does not appear much different than
    his father. The Cowboys anymore have ended up on the wrong side of a joke, thanks to
    the two Jones.

  12. Mahomes received a 10 million upfront payment upon signing his 1st rd contract so along with the 825,000 he also has 2 mil pro rated for the 2020 season.

  13. Jerry’s like the guy who walks into the car dealership and tells the salesman he just has to have a certain car.

  14. I am a huge Cowboy and Dak fan, however how much friggin’ money is enough for him?, i don’t care if he was on a team friendly deal during his rookie contract, by him holding his team hostage for HUGE bucks clearly says he doesn’t care if his contact takes up a lot of the cap space and hinders the team from signing other players to make them a better team overall it just sickens me as a fan that he is doing this.
    I don’t think he will be starving and living under a bridge in Texas in 10 years if he accepts what Jerry is offering which is approximately 33-35 million for the next 5 years, if not a little more and a lot of that is guaranteed, plus he has made cash over the last few years with endorsement deals with Oikos Yogurt, Campbell’s Soup etc………..COME ON DAK, JUST SIGN THE DAMN DEAL!

  15. The language means nothing now. Dak has not signed the tender. If he tries Florio’s approach in order to get a top deal it will happen as the deadline closes in. If he oversteps, the Cowboys could easily rescind the tag, claim they tried to keep him in good faith and then just deal with Dalton while Dak tries to collect scraps in a market that no longer exists this year. Dak is good. He is nowhere near great and he is not 10s of millions of dollars better than Dalton who is already under contract and no more behind on Mccarthy’s offense than Dak is. Dak would lose big because his indorsement deals are probably tied to his Cowboys job. The way Dak has played this does not demonstrate leadership or teamwork. The team goals only apply to him IF he gets paid more than he deserves. THAT attitude is not one I would want to see from my QB. Dalton could lose the division just like Dak, but for a lot less money. I think Dalton has the ability to take THIS cowboys team deep into the playoffs. No brainer for me. Dump Dak.

  16. If allowed to move between options, The non-exclusive franchise tag might work next season if he plays well enough this season.

  17. I wonder if the sad situation of the loss of Dak’s brother is playing into the Cowboys’ decision to squat for awhile.

    Maybe they are doing an all or nothing season where they get a better look at a stacked team and see if he is elite. If not, they move on with an attractive team in 2021 for a FA QB…

  18. Like a rock and a hard place where you can’t be sure which will win out. On the one hand, it’s seldom smart to bid against yourself which is what Dallas is doing since NOBODY else would be considering giving him a record-setting deal. On the other hand, extremely risky to get greedy when your leverage is only with a single team because if Dallas balks Dak will lose millions.

  19. Please meet his demands.
    -The rest of the NFC East..

    As a 49er fan I am totally in favor of them giving Dak that huge percentage of their salary cap. He is worth it . . . DO IT !!!

  20. The fact that this has dragged out as long as it has shows what the Cowboys REALLY think of Dak. As every starting QB has signed, the deal has gotten more expensive. Fast forward to the Dalton signing; insurance sure, but also a CHEAP emergency out, imo.

    Should this get even more ugly, the Cowboys have to be asking themselves, is Dak REALLY worth 10 TIMES more than Dalton? To me, as a 45 year Cowboys fan, the answer is simple. Dump Dak, save $30 million, and see who’s available after the season ends.

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