Breaking down Dak Prescott’s options

Getty Images

When it comes to quarterback Dak Prescott, his options are simple. Ultimately, the final decision regarding whether to sign a long-term deal in Dallas will be made not by him as much as it will be made by the Cowboys.

Confused? Good. Keep reading. (Actually, you’ve already clicked, so my work here is done.)

With Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, the closing of the annual window for application of the franchise tag, becoming the first major decision point for player and team in 2021, the options are: (1) franchise tag; (2) long-term deal; or (3) no tag, no deal.

The Cowboys will, before Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, offer Prescott a long-term deal that he’ll either accept or reject. Yes, it’s his decision. But it’s up to the Cowboys to make him an offer he won’t refuse.

That’s where this process becomes incredibly simple. It has nothing to do with the quarterback market, contrary to what you may read or hear elsewhere. Prescott’s leverage comes not from what any other quarterback currently is making but from his own circumstances.

Last year, the Cowboys applied the exclusive franchise tag, which paid Prescott $31.4 million for 2020. To tag him again (franchise or transition), a 20-percent raise applies. He’ll make $37.68 million in 2021 under either tag. (Because it’s the same cost, the franchise tag is by far the better option. The transition tag provides only the right to match a long-term offer, with no compensation if the offer isn’t matched.)

That’s just the start of it. When comparing a long-term deal offered by the Cowboys to Prescott’s current circumstances, 2022 becomes incredibly relevant. That’s when Prescott would get $54.25 million under the franchise tag (a 44-percent bump given it would be his third franchise tag), $45.21 million under the transition tag (a 20-percent increase over 2021), or a free and clear shot at the open market.

It’s not easy to turn those three options into a firm two-year value. Still, Prescott currently knows that he will get over the next two years: (1) $91.93 million under the franchise-then-franchise model; (2) $82.896 million under the franchise-then-transition model; or (3) $37.68 million for a year plus whatever he gets as a truly unrestricted free agent in 2022.

To get Prescott to trade in his three-pronged future (each of which is lucrative), the Cowboys need to make him a long-term offer that is at least as good, in his assessment. That’s the leverage. That’s the balance. What, in the form of a multi-year deal, gets Prescott to trade in the bird in the hand?

And it’s not a bird-in-the-hand-two-in-the-bush-type situation. He already has the year-to-year bird in his hand. The Cowboys need to put a bird of equal or greater attraction in his other hand, or he’ll just keep the bird he already has.

It’s that simple. It’s that clear. And it’s on the Cowboys to make Prescott trade in the rights he currently has for the rights under a long-term contract.

The Cowboys could throw Prescott a curveball by not tagging him at all in 2021. That would put him on the open market, and his value would be driven by whatever a team would offer him. That also would leave the Cowboys without their preferred quarterback in 2021, or likely ever again.

26 responses to “Breaking down Dak Prescott’s options

  1. His one and only option is to apologize to the Cowboys organization and take the very generous 4 year offer from Mr. Jones has presented to him.

  2. The Cowboys aren’t going to franchise him, and they’re going to give him a take it or leave it offer.

  3. So again you try to make stuff up. Just as Ben’s contract is actually 2 years 31 million with only 28 likely to be earned this is up to both the cowboys AND Dak to say otherwise is ridiculous.

  4. Jerry can’t afford to tag him then have to cut about $20 million out of his current roster, so either Jerry (just like Zeke) is stuck offering him basically a max contract for the position or let him walk and hope Dalton (who is going to probably cost $50 million (25 mill a year) plus 2 year fully guaranteed contract) greatly improves form his mediocre talent. Andy is a lot like Cousins just good enough to be barely above average but lacks the ability to win against comparable talent.

    See Dak starting for the Raiders, Pats or 49ers.

  5. Who in their right mind would think he’s worth over $37M? I don’t see how they can afford to pay him what he thinks he’s worth without being in a bind with the cap. They have so many other needs and to keep him means they’ll have to get rid of other players. It’s not like they are a threat to win it all so why not just start the rebuilding process now. The OL is old, Dak is average, the defense is terrible. They have so many holes to fill and giving Dak $40M will only create more holes.

  6. They have the same problem the Eagles and Rams had; they overpaid the QB. Now they have to figure out how to pay him less long term. I think if he goes on the market, he gets offered a lot less than the $37 mill. he’ll get under the tag. MAYBE he comes back after looking around that and says he’ll take less to stay. Maybe he just decides to go somewhere else for less.
    Just as teams figured out they need a great o-line to keep their QB healthy, teams are now figuring out that overpaying a QB keeps you from getting the players you need to stay competitive. Yes you need a good one, but you need other players too. It is a team sport, after all.

  7. joeb says:
    March 5, 2021 at 2:28 pm
    Dak should try spending some time in Mexico. It worked for Zeke.
    Dak should try to actually be the reason the team wins some games. It worked for Zeke.

  8. From a business standpoint, Cowboys should let Dak test the market. No way he is offered Cowboy money.

    But if Jerry lets him test the market, the Cowboys lose the locker room. And the only remedy for that is to tag-and-trade Dak for Watson or Wilson.

  9. These aren’t birds in the hand. There is no way on earth the Cowboys franchise him again next year.

    He can get more guaranteed money by signing a contract. He could have already gotten more money by signing the contract they offered him two years ago.

    I just don’t get the Cowboys here. They’re not competing against anyone for Prescott. No other team would pay him within $10m of what they’ve offered him. Surely they, Prescott, and Prescott’s agent must know this. So why this dance?

    The contract’s on the table. For a guy who’s 5-13 against winning teams the last 3 years, it’s completely lucrative.

  10. He and the Cowboys see things differently. Maybe he get mega cash from anther team and maybe he can’t. Can they go to the Super Bowl with him ? NO! Can they get into the Playoffs with him? Probably. Is that good enough for the Jones’s? Maybe, it just depends on $$. Cash Rules, and that’s it.

  11. Non-exclusive tag, that is the best way to find out market value and the ability to match or get comp if not.

  12. This is why the franchise tag is what a QB should want. Just ask Cousins.

  13. The Cowboys have made this harder than it needs to be. They should let the market set his rate, it will be an eye opener for Dakota

  14. I’m just enjoying Prescott’s resolve.
    He’s making big bucks off the field using the Cowboy QB brand, and rightfully feels he lost 30 million being a 4th round pick.
    Now he’s staring down the baddest owner in all of football, a guy who kept Tony Romo off the Texans and landed him a number one announcing job, just flexing his business juice.
    Prescott lives a much happier life not messing with the good will/ door opening ability of a mega player like Jerry Jones.

  15. How fast does Chicago offer him a contract on the open market? They have a Russ fetish and Dak is Russ lite…..

  16. bluecat013 says:
    March 5, 2021 at 2:32 pm
    They have the same problem the Eagles and Rams had; they overpaid the QB.

    What? They franchised him last year as his rookie contract ran out. They haven’t “overpaid” him yet.

    Now they might if they get stupid here but it hasn’t happened up to now.

  17. The more he annoys Jones, the more I like him. I hope he sticks it to Jones for every cent he can get.

  18. My understanding is the sticking point is the length of contract, not necessarily the money.

    From Daks perspective, the Cowboys aren’t that good a team, why would he want to stay there?
    Do what Kirk Cousins did, pick a team he likes and play there.

    I’d overpay a little and give him $40MM/year because the alternative is to have a garbage backup QB.
    You can save 30MM but lose a few extra games on the QB play differential.
    It only makes sense to do that if you can retain a few good free agents for reasonable prices.

  19. bluestarcowboy says:
    March 5, 2021 at 7:26 pm
    bluecat013 says:
    March 5, 2021 at 2:32 pm
    They have the same problem the Eagles and Rams had; they overpaid the QB.

    What? They franchised him last year as his rookie contract ran out. They haven’t “overpaid” him yet.

    They paid him $31.4 mill. last year. He’s 10-6, 8-8 and 2-3. If he’s really 5-13 against winning teams, then how is he even worth $31.4? Supposedly they’ve offered $175 mill. for 5 years, with $50 guaranteed. That’s $35 mill. avg. for a guy who hasn’t done anything of note, as far as I can see. But how do you back down from that? Who would offer him more? So, I think he’s been overpaid. We can disagree if the going rate for mediocrity is $35 mill/yr., but I think it’s too much.

  20. For everyone saying Dak isn’t qorth 37m, get a grip. The market sets the price. Dak is above avg and with only 32 jobs, he’s better than at least half the starting qbs in the league. Therefore, he is worth 37m because thats what the market dictates. This ia all Jerry’s fault. He couldve given Dak the 4 yr deal he wanted, but Jerry wants long term. Dak wants to be able to cash in again, and with VFL careers as short as they are, he absolutely should. Everyone on here would do the same. If you would just give money back to Jerry because other people feel you’re not worth it, well, send your paycheck my way!

  21. No one but me knows that it’s the cowboys choice if they decide to pay Dak.

    You are welcome for my education

  22. Football is a team support. Teams have got to have a strong mix of good players on rookie contracts to offset the overpaid skill positions to be competitive and paying over 12% of the cap for a QB with non top tier skills, will destroy any hopes for post team victories marching to the Super Bowl. This mistake lands mostly on the inept GM and secondly on a QB that can’t carry a team that has carried him for 4 years! And if Dak continues to be a pain in the arse haggling over his potential contract/tag tender, then the Cowboys if they can, should trade him. The Cowboys cannot afford the cap hit tied to tagging Prescott at $37.7 million without restructuring contracts and releasing of players from their deals. The Cowboys can place a franchise Tag on him at this point where they could get draft picks/players if a Team negotiates a trade for him. Dalton can lead the Cowboys effectively with some better skilled players via the draft and the improvement health wise of existing players, and those who got needed reps last season. This maybe the only real option the Cowboys have with their small Cap room and reduction from last year. Signing Dak means some good players will not be signed and restructuring contracts for cap room is deferring the problem to come home to roost down the road. Jerry has done that before and the record suffered for it.

  23. I wonder if he is effective without Elliott? I am pretty sure this will look like money well spent or money down a hole based more on Elliott than Prescott.

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.