Cowboys need to get Dak Prescott signed before franchise-tag deadline

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In a normal year, the practical deadline for signing a franchise-tagged player to a long-term deal arrives on July 15. For the Cowboys, this year’s deadline as it relates to quarterback Dak Prescott should move.

Because Prescott earned $31.4 million under the franchise tag in 2020, he’ll be entitled to a 20-percent raise if tagged again in 2021. That equates to $37.68 million. With the cap expected to drop in 2021 — possibly all the way to $180 million — that’s a lot to dedicate to the starting quarterback.

Indeed, if the cap lands at $180 million, Prescott will consume nearly 21 percent of it on his own.

It makes far more sense for the Cowboys to get Prescott signed to a long-term contract, with a much lower 2021 cap charge, before the the deadline for applying the franchise tag arrives. Last year, the talks bogged down over the length of the contract; Prescott wanted four years, the Cowboys wanted five. This year, Prescott should hold even more firm on a a four-year deal.

Length will be the easy part. Value becomes more difficult, given that Patrick Mahomes has a new-money average of $45 million and that Deshaun Watson gets $39 million.

There’s another important factor at play here: Contract value at signing. Watson’s contract has an average value at signing of $29.11 million. Mahomes’ deal has an average value at signing of $39.8 million.

Of course, Mahomes’ signed a 12-year deal. Watson signed a four-year extension. Prescott, if he signs a four-year deal, will be back at the table after the 2024 season.

So what will it take? Four-years, $130 million would result in an average of $32.5 million. With, for example, a $60 million signing bonus and a $5 million salary for 2021, Prescott would have a cap number of $20 million. Additional guarantees would be needed, and there would be cash-flow details to negotiate.

Regardless, if the Cowboys still believe Prescott is their guy, this is the kind of deal they need to make, before they have to squeeze the rest of the cap around a salary of $37.68 million.

There’s one more reason to get the deal done before the franchise-tag deadline. If the Cowboys apply the tag to Dak a second time, he’d be entitled to a 44-percent bump over his latest cap number if franchise-tagged at any point in the future.

To best deal with the coming cap crunch and to best manage the relationship when the next contract expires, the Cowboys need to prioritize completing the Dak Prescott contract before he receives what would be a one-year deal worth a whopping $37.68 million.

47 responses to “Cowboys need to get Dak Prescott signed before franchise-tag deadline

  1. As someone who is not a fan of the Cowboys, I say to them…Go all in on Dak. Please.

  2. Before all the screaming about overpaying starts, the numbers need to be looked not from a value perspective, but from a market perspective. It’s the position, experience, and previous performance.

    Prescott would start for over 60% of the league. More importantly, how much would you really save bringing in a starter that could take them far?

  3. Big contract, salary cap games to lower the immediate cap hit that must be applied in later years. Yeah, kicking the can down the road is how the Cowboys got into their precarious cap situation now. Keep doing this and they’ll wind up like they did in the late 90’s when the bill came dur. At a time when the cap was ~60 mil, the Cowboys could only spend ~40mil, the rest eaten up by dead money. They went into the toilet where they stayed for almost a decade.

  4. Bring on another year of Andy ‘ The Red Rocket’ Dalton!!! – says every NFC East fan

  5. To my naked eye, there is nothing special about Dak. Unless there’s something I just don’t know about him. There’s no special physically about Tom Brady either. Mediocre athlete with an above-average arm. But he’s a winner.

    Maybe they think Dak is a winner?

  6. I think he has demonstrated that he is mediocre/higher mediocre qb. Not worth anywhere near 40mil per year.

  7. The former deal fell apart over years and not money. Boy is that coming back to sting. Dallas is really not going anywhere any time soon.

  8. If he wasn’t willing to take a five year deal a year ago, why would he take a four year deal this year? It’s essentially the same amount of years

  9. So why is Dak mediocre and Watson isn’t? Dak had better numbers up to that point, and won half as many games in five starts (2) as Watson did all year (4).

  10. Can you please just instead tell us which QBs definitely aren’t going anywhere? It’d be easier.

  11. Eagles fan here. I hope the cowboys don’t learn anything from the Carson Wentz situation. Sign Dak for mega millions!

  12. I’m a big fan of Dak and his ability. I am not a fan of a player valuing himself above the team. Football is a team sport. One player doesn’t not win all by himself. It still take a team. The Cowboys now realize that with the Elliott contract. Both sides need to sit down and negotiate a fair deal for both Dak and the Cowboys.

  13. If he had continued with the year he was having. Sign him, but he gambled and lost. I would franchisee him and see how he plays.

  14. Offer the non-exclusive tag, find out true market value, or sign-trade with a willing team. There is no way, Dak is worth top 3 QB money – now or 4 years down the road. You build with a strong OL and DL.

  15. Is anybody concerned about the fact that his ankle was pointed in the wrong direction the last time we saw him play? I’d be wary of any sort of big contract until we have more clarity with regard to his ankle injury and how close he can get back to the old Dak.

  16. Teams spending $32.5 on a QB have never won a Super Bowl. And that was with a growing (not shrinking) cap. Cowboys can offer more per year for five years and see if what Dak wants is some allegedly greener grass four years from now and take the lower $#. Awfully big risk after his ankle injury either way. Good luck to both sides.

  17. Why all the hate on Dak? Before he went down, he was set to absolutely shatter several single-season passing records. If you say it doesn’t translate to wins, i’d argue that has more to do with the team around him (eg. did Zeke even play this past year??) than it does with him.

  18. I’m sure the Cowboys will sign Dak to an inflated contract compared to his talents and the Cowboys will go yet another decade without a Superbowl. But Dak will be happen, I guess that’s all that matters in this culture.

  19. Someone said – “Deshaun to Cowboys and Dak to Houston”….. Would be a nice swap !!!

  20. every year the same thing. If JJ didn’t overpay for all the wrong players, nobody would even want to sign there. Get paid, go 9-7.

  21. Dak isn’t even in the same ballpark as: Mahomes, Watson, Wilson, Rogers or even Brady. Hence he shouldn’t get even close to what those guys make. Dak is more in the Cousins, Stafford, Goff, Carr category. Good but not great, never going to win anything.

  22. The Cowboys have great skill position players around Dak. But they are tapped out and you can see offensive cracks forming. Giving Dak that much money when he’s not elite is nonsense. But I’m not a Cowboys fan, so go on Dallas. Make the mistake…

  23. $37.68 million is the starting point in negotiations. Dak’s leverage has only gone up. 4yr/39mil average could still provide cap relief 1st year. Or let him walk.

  24. Please sign him to a fat contract and you’re guaranteed to suck for a long time as the rest the team will be crap.

  25. The Goff, Garrapolo and Wentz deals prove that you don’t pay a decent QB crazy money. The Cowboys can win 6-10 games with Dalton, a rookie or another retread QB. Prescott isn’t getting this team to a Super Bowl.

  26. They should use the non-exclusive tag on him. Let other teams offer contacts so he can test the market. If he leaves Dallas gets two 1st round picks, which would give them the 4 1sts needed for Watson but over 2 years instead of 4. If not Dak has a contract both sides can live with. Or he plays on the franchise tag again.

  27. Tagging him again would be the worst situation for Dallas. You overpay for one year AND it’s almost guaranteed you lose him next year to free agency (see the Cousins example).

    So Dallas just needs to decide if they want him to be their QB over the next several years or not. If they don’t, someone will sign him to the money he’s asking for. He’s a good QB, certainly top half of the league and close to top 10.

    Most teams don’t have one of those and would be willing to pay to get one.

  28. Jerry is stubborn, if he makes his mind he is gone, then you book it he is gone and nothing will bring him back. Time will tell if that is the case. Until Dallas gets their Defense fixed they will never win another Super Bowl. These questionable hires on the defensive side the last few years, have been a slap in the face to the fans.

  29. This is a bad year for Dak to hit the open market. If I’m Dak, I sign the franchise tag and then negotiate next year when the cap is back in full swing. He lost some leverage in long term contract with the cap dropping. His leverage is the franchise tag.

  30. The $32 million mentioned in the article sounds like it could be in the No Man’s Land in between what Dallas would actually offer and what Dak would actually accept. Pre-injury he reportedly turned down $35 million so has he really humbled himself that much to accept $32 million now? And coming off injury would Dallas still offer $30+ million?

    He cost himself millions by failing to sign last year. Question is how he reacts to that. I believe Dallas will be his best offer since they have a clear investment in him while other teams will likely be hedging their bets offering shorter, cheaper prove-you’re-fully-recovered type of deals. But that doesn’t mean Dak sees things working out that way.

  31. I don’t see the big sense of urgency. He’s had surgery and no one knows how that rehab and recovery will be. Besides all those issues, he’s just not all that. Give him a short-term “Show Me” contract. He doesn’t like it, let him walk. Again, he’s not all that good.

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