The Cowboys have never let a player whom they really, really, REALLY wanted to keep leave in free agency. They sometimes overpay to make it happen, but they always get their man.
(Yes, they let DeMarco Murray go in 2015, failing to up their offer, but the Cowboys were willing to let him leave for the Eagles if he didn’t take a “hometown discount.”)
Dak Prescott hasn’t left, at least not yet, but he also hasn’t signed a long-term deal.
That makes his situation different, perhaps, than any other player with whom the Cowboys have negotiated. Prescott will make $31.4 million this year, and absent a long-term deal after the season, he either will become a free agent in 2021 or make $37.68 million under the franchise or transition tag.
On his radio show Friday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones went more in depth on Prescott’s contract negotiations than he ever has.
Jones called the negotiations “difficult,” and acknowledged Prescott “bet on himself and bet wisely.” He also confirmed the Cowboys wanted a shorter-term deal than Prescott, explaining the reason: The team would rather spread out the cap hit over five years than four.
So they are where they are, creating additional cap space for next season when the cap could drop as low as $175 million and Prescott still unsigned beyond 2020.
“It’s so difficult for us even,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “As you know, we’ve never not got a player signed that we wanted to get signed. That’s just how we go, but this one has been a bit more difficult. We’re talking about a situation where he’s going to represent so much of your salary cap. I think he understands where we’re coming from. We’re trying to get in a situation where we can keep Dak surrounded by great players. The only thing Dak is missing from Patrick Mahomes is winning that Super Bowl. That’s what we want for him. I don’t think he would ever question our will and our want to surround him with great players. We picked CeeDee Lamb with the first pick in the draft, and loading him up to the best as he can possibly be. I really don’t have any problem with the situation other than I’d admire him because he never blinks.
“I will say this: You know, in hindsight, I wouldn’t have said that to my son two years ago. I’d have said go in there and take that big guarantee and sign up. But I do think he’s made money playing it out. We’ll see what happens with the cap and how the virus affects our revenues for the upcoming couple of years. But in general, barring something like that where we really continue to struggle from a — if we struggle from a revenue standpoint of no fans and reduced revenue — then that could affect his situation. But other than that, I mean, he’s bet on himself and bet wisely. He’s answered every bell, every call. I think anyone would tell you. I think Dak would tell you. I think his agent would tell you. We’ve put some very, very generous offers on the table. It’s more a principal-type situation on length of term. I think everyone’s got their hand around that’s the problem, and obviously we want a long-term deal because we can spread the money out over more years and give us more years under the salary cap so we can keep these young team, these young players that we have in and around Dak. At the same time, he wants a shorter-term deal because he sees how successful the league has been. The sooner you come up for contract, the sooner you will come up for a bigger raise. That’s been the history of the NFL. So he’s not at fault either. Have nothing but respect for where he’s been and up to this point, I don’t think it’s hurt anybody. He’s obviously made a lot of money this year, and we all know he’s going to make a whole lot more money in the future, and certainly we want it to be right here in Dallas.”