Dak Prescott becomes highest-paid player in league history, based on value at signing

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Dak Prescott had a large bird in his hand. He’s got an even bigger one now.

With a reported four-year, $160 million contract from the Cowboys, Prescott will make $40 million per year.

There are two ways to evaluate NFL contracts. One way, which applies when a player signs a new deal with time left on a prior one, looks at the average value of the so-called new money (i.e., the cash to be paid on the extra years beyond the current contract). The other way looks at the total value of the contract from the moment it’s signed.

Agents strongly prefer the new-money analysis, since it generates a higher total average. It’s a bit misleading, however, because there’s no actual extension of an NFL contract. The old contract goes away, and a new one takes its place.

For example, the contract signed last year by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a new-money average of $45 million. That puts him $5 million per year ahead of Prescott. From signing, however, Mahomes’ deal has a value of $39.8 million. At $40 million from signing, Dak has a better deal.

Prescott also has a better deal because Mahomes’ contract runs through 2031. When Prescott’s deal expires, Mahomes will be under contract for seven more years. By then, the market will have changed. By then, Mahomes will be underpaid. Prescott will be getting paid again.

Indeed, some pointed out that the four-year deal given by the Titans to Ryan Tannehill compares favorably to the Mahomes deal. Tannehill’s deal is worth $118 million over four years, $42 million less than Prescott’s.

Prescott’s total average at signing also surpasses Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s new-money average of $39 million per year. From signing, Watson’s deal averages $29.11 million per year.

As recently explained, contracts given to other quarterbacks were ultimately irrelevant to Dak Prescott, because his deal was driven by the leverage that came from the prospect of being tagged again, at $37.68 million in 2021. The Cowboys would have been over, inside, and/or under a barrel in 2022, with the chances of Prescott hitting the open market increasing significantly if he’d been tagged again.

So they gave him a four-year, $160 million deal, and he decided that taking the deal was superior to playing under the tag and seeing what happens next year. The fact that it was superior to the contracts signed by Mahomes and Watson is a collateral question, but it doesn’t hurt.

86 responses to “Dak Prescott becomes highest-paid player in league history, based on value at signing

  1. Dallas fans will be chanting We are going to the superbowl in 5 4 3 2 1….

  2. At this rate, Tom Brady can play and win SBs until he’s 50. Brady is taking 25 M and likely will restructure to have an avg of $20 M/year over the next 2-3 years. If every starting QB is taking 20-25% of the salary cap, only Brady’s team (and QBs on rookie contracts), can field a complete team.

  3. Cowboys should have have closed a deal with Dak a long time ago, Dak is the winner here.

  4. Lesson of the story, started by Kirk Cousins’ dance with Washington, is don’t get into a franchise tag stand-off with your QB.

  5. At the time of Dak’s injury, only Tom Brady had won more games than Dak Prescott since Dak entered the league. It’s a QB league, and that is one stat that means something. Once Dak went down, the Cowboys turned into a bad team. Dak was covering up all those weaknesses, just as Brady had been doing in New England, and how he did it in Tampa Bay this year. Great QB’s make everybody look a lot better. I’ve been saying, time is on Dak’s side. Even with the injury. You could also say the injury showed Jerry Jones just how much Dak meant to the win column.

  6. Brady will sign an extension for half of Prescott’s annual value and have twice the team. Brady has it all figured out – everyone else is just a pretender.

  7. I love this! Dallas is stuck with a huge cap anchor at the QB position for 4 years–and over 20% of their salary cap for at least a year or two. And that’s for a good, but far from elite QB. The Cowboys just surrendered any realistic hope of winning a Super Bowl in the next four years. But, their QB will be happy. Way to go Jerry!!!!

  8. Good for you Dak your patience paid off and you waited Jerry out. Cross Dallas off kitchens where Russ can cook. Can’t wait for the musical chairs at QB to begin around the league. The Boys will be sitting that one out. Now let’s shore up the O line in the draft and fix the defence so we can win the NFC Least.

  9. Everyone can say what they want but the Eagles, Wash, Giants have been jumping from Qb to QB. The cowboys have had the same starter since 2016 and all the teams in the division wish they could say the same.

  10. Better hope he can win them a championship this year. Won’t be able to field a team around him with that salary. There’s a reason Brady never took max deals.

  11. Paying Prescott better than Mahomes is foolish. Good for Prescott. bad for the Cowboys.

  12. As a Bills fan I am curious to see what Allen’s next contract looks like. I really hope he learns from what has gone on with/is going on with…Goff, Wentz, Watson, etc..etc. Those QB deals have really hurt those franchises. If he was smart he would learn from what Brady has done all these years.

  13. And with that signing, the Cowboys just sealed their fate of not winning a superbowl for the next 4 to 6 years. You thought the defense was bad last year, just wait, it will get worse. Then you have that once great offensive line, they are serviceable right now, but they are old and injuries are piling up. Keep kicking that can down the road Jerry. This will bite you in the backside…see Wilson, see Watson, see Roger’s. Or you could ask Russell Wilson how he likes being hit because the Seahawks can’t afford a decent line to protect him up front. Couldn’t happen to a better team and owner, the NFC thanks you Jerry.

  14. Next best up gets the highest deal. Just like when Rodgers was passed by Jared Goof and Derek Carr. Dak is a deal when you look at those guys. Mahomes is worth $100 mil. Not sure why people are a hater on Dak, I am a Giants fan would love to have him.

  15. Look at Mahomes’ contract again if you think he will ever be underpaid no matter where QB salaries go. $58M/year is underpaid in 7 years? nope.

  16. Poor Deshaun Watson is stuck with his measly 150-some million dollar contract. Not fair!

  17. Prescott > Brady > Mahomes > Everyone Else

    In Jerruh we trust as the undisputed greatest football mind in the history of the NFL!!! Let’s just get it over with and change the “Lombardi” trophy to the “Jerry Jones Trophy”! Much better ring to it and Lombardi did pretty much nothing except steal ideas from younger coaches and take credit he wasn’t due.

  18. And when Dallas goes 7-9 next year, all the dopey Cowboys fans won’t be able to comprehend why they didn’t get to the Super Bowl. I mean, Jerry told us we would, and he never lies, plus Dak signed for huge money, that means he’s as good as Patrick Mahomes. Delusion reigns supreme in Big D.

  19. I’m not a Dak hater but I would be a 39 million a year hater when my team already has one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Also when my 39 million a year guy was not winning divisions in an already weak division or making the playoffs when he was healthy, there is plenty of reason to worry in big D. Oh and how’s that running back deal working out?

  20. Significant is the no trade clause as that keeps him from being swapped with Russell or Watson. Of course, so does his overall $$ cost. We now know that for the foreseeable future, Dak is a Dallas Cowboy, end of discussion.

  21. Dak will be retiring after his contract is over meanwhile Mahomes will headed to his 4th Superbowl…

  22. The size of the contract is immaterial really. Last few years have shown as someone pointed out next man up gets the biggest contract, or close to it. Dak is good, not great, and certainly not the 2nd best (or using Florio’s analysis the best) QB in the league. Nowhere near it. I think the Cowboys end up regretting this one. Except Jerruh never looks back. Welcome to more years of mediocrity.

  23. How are they ever going to sign anyone else? they have to pay him almost the same as the rest of the team. Funny logic for a mediocre QB.

  24. jvotoronto says: “If every starting QB is taking 20-25% of the salary cap, only Brady’s team (and QBs on rookie contracts), can field a complete team.”
    ————————

    Curious – what can’t OTHER players take “less” money? Why does it always have to be the QB, who probably IS responsible for more than the 20-25% success/failure of a team?

  25. maxamili says:
    March 8, 2021 at 8:20 pm
    Everyone can say what they want but the Eagles, Wash, Giants have been jumping from Qb to QB. The cowboys have had the same starter since 2016 and all the teams in the division wish they could say the same.

    ——

    Eagles have a Super Bowl in that timeframe. Dallas?

  26. Don’t get it. Overhyped and hasn’t delivered despite lots of offensive talent

  27. Really top heavy team Jerry’s building there. Better draft well over the next few years.

  28. Makes for great headlines today, but the pressures will be on Dak and Coach McCarthy come week 1.

  29. As a life long Cowboys fan, I’m disappointed. What a huge mistake this was. We still don’t know if Dak will be 100% back to form, after the gruesome injury he had last fall. What if he’s not ?

    Even if he is, we won’t be able to acquire enough talent around him, with the cap hell this deal is going to put us in. I like Dak. He’s a good QB. He’s not a 40 million/year QB.

    This is absurd. I’m betting nobody (besides Dak), is happier than the Redskins, Giants, & Eagles…..

  30. Not a huge fan of Dak, and that is a lot of cap dedicated to one player. But I give him credit, cashing in big after being drafted in the 4th round.

  31. This is fantastic for football? Letting a mediocre QB ge paid 40 million? Watson and Prescott are interchangeable stat stuffers. Fans suffer. Owners cave. The poor widdle players fee fees dont get hurt and they get paid. No superbowls for Texas for years.

  32. Good lord. Bidding against themselves over a guy who’s gone 5-13 against winning teams since his one and only playoff win 3 years ago.

    Absolute idiocy. Between the Prescott & Elliott contracts, their cap is wrecked.

  33. Does this mean Rodgers won’t ink a deal with the Packers unless he gets 41 mill a year?

  34. And now the Cowboys, with their cap space used on a qb who has delivered nothing, have set the stage to mire themselves in mediocrity for the next four years and beyond. A lot of people will disagree with me, but I can’t see anything good coming of this. As soon as a qb’s salary becomes too large of a percentage of the cap, the team short circuits any chance of a meaningful playoff run.

  35. Completely insane. Jerry should have let Sak Prescott walk. Signed Kaepernick for the 20 million he clearly deserves and used the extra money to upgrade the offensive line.

    Besides, Kaps already played in a Superbowl whereas Dakotas only watched them.

    Another outstanding move by King Jerrah.

    With much thanks, the NFC East.

  36. With Philly and Dallas done for years, Skins fans and I guess Giants fans have to be thrilled.

    The stupidity of NFL franchises is epic.

  37. The NFL has brought this type of QB contract on themselves. The rules have highly slanted the game to the QB.Now, even half-assed quarterbacks are in demand. We’ll probably see Kirk Cousins get $50 Million per year; maybe $60 million for Derrick Carr. How about 45% of the entire salary cap for Russell Wilson.

    Going back to some of the rules 30 years ago may be the answer.

  38. 2 winners with this signing. The NFC East as the cowboys can’t afford to field a quality team. This time next year Dak will be complaining about no line, no receivers, no defense or no fill in the blank. The biggest winner is his agent MR France.

    Dak seems like a good dude and I wish him the best but going to difficult to compete when 25% of cap space is in your own pocket.

    HTTR/ HTTFT

  39. maxamili
    Mar 8, 2021, 20:20 PM EST
    Everyone can say what they want but the Eagles, Wash, Giants have been jumping from Qb to QB. The cowboys have had the same starter since 2016 and all the teams in the division wish they could say the same.

    Eagles just won a Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Wish Dallas could say the same?

  40. Ah yes the 4 year deal, which is actually 3 years before another extension gets put in place. It’s perfect for Dak because by 2024, the average QB salary will be $50 million, and $60 million for the elite QBs.

  41. This has gone too far. I don’t care how good he is at some point we have to ask, where does this end. 160 million to play a game? Better spent at St Judes Children’s Hospital or in the fight to end cancer forever. No, we ll give 160 million to someone to play a game. Just stop it. There needs to be a cap limit on all of the players.

  42. Who knows how Dak’s going to look after he comes back from a horrific injury ankle injury, but let’s give him a massive contract!

  43. Didnt Dallas learn from Seattle using up huge chunk of cap space on Wilson at the expense of the rest of the roster- how’s that OLine Russell?

  44. Waiting for the talking heads on the four-letter to claim he’s underpaid and needs to use his power to force a trade.

  45. Yep, he’s very good, but he needs to play a whole lot better to truly earn his money under THIS contract. Jerry could have a big egg on his face….which would not disappoint me…

  46. Don’t bring up Brady. He was an idiot for taking those cheap deals at NE. The extra money was never used to sign better players because NE was cheap with everyone to begin with. Only good thing was with him being a game manager didn’t allow it to mess with top echelon QB money for others.

  47. This feels like an overpay, but the Cowboys options were overpay Dak, hope to hit on someone in the draft (isn’t that everyone’s hope???), or basically have no good QB in a QB driven league. Feels insane, but not long ago, it feels like the Cowboys could have had Dak at 33-35 and now they’re paying 40. That’s the price for waiting until after Mahomes signed his deal.

    And no, you aren’t better off with a league minimum guy on the free agent market.

  48. I hope they had another doctor besides Dr Jones look at his ankle before giving him all this guaranteed money and so much up front.

  49. Congrats Dak!

    RIP the Cowboys chances of being successful in the playoffs even if they get there…

  50. and wirth every penny.
    .
    scratch one team off wilsons “landing spot” list

  51. Except Mahomes will have something prescott will never have.
    A Super Bowl ring (probably more than 1).

  52. The problem with these monstrous contracts that QB’s get is other good players get cut to help pay them. I don’t think that’s good for the league over all.

  53. Ridiculous amount of money. Quarterbacks getting these huge contracts won’t make them look good when the team has no money for other players. For some reason a lot of people think the nfl should be paying more money, like they have an unlimited supply. The nfl isn’t the government. The nfl can’t print money against future revenues from the year 2100. They nfl has no ability to take money from people’s paychecks by force. But, hey, maybe that is coming some day. An NFL tax so players can make a billion dollars per year. The nfl is moving backwards with no hope that anyone will try to get it moving forward again. Oh well

  54. Let’s not forget that the current QB salary wars can be traced back to the Vikings when they elected to make Kirk Cousins the first fully guaranteed QB contract in history.

    Before that QB salaries were fairly level for the few years.

  55. Not a Cowboys fan and have no dog in the hunt……..but it seems really obvious Dallas is in trouble with the cap for years to come. They will be able to pay 3-4 top players and the rest of the roster will be a revolving door with them hoping they hit on their draft picks with rookie salaries.

  56. So should Rodgers threaten to sit out this year if the Packers don’t restructure his contract? Can Wilson and the other starting QBs do the same?

  57. And lucky to get a playoff win and never see the NFC championship game with the most overpaid player in the NFL I also ask how a league that thrives on equality on the field and now has made equality off the field it’s primary mission can support allocating over 20% of your salary cap to one lower 2nd tier player at his position?

  58. CHawk12thMan says:
    March 8, 2021 at 8:52 pm
    Significant is the no trade clause as that keeps him from being swapped with Russell or Watson. Of course, so does his overall $$ cost. We now know that for the foreseeable future, Dak is a Dallas Cowboy, end of discussion.
    —————————-
    Thanks, Yoda.

  59. charliecharger says:
    March 8, 2021 at 8:12 pm
    At the time of Dak’s injury, only Tom Brady had won more games than Dak Prescott since Dak entered the league. It’s a QB league, and that is one stat that means something. Once Dak went down, the Cowboys turned into a bad team. Dak was covering up all those weaknesses,

    —-

    At the time of Dak’s injury the Cowboys were 1-3 and only won the game they did because Atlanta failed to cover an onside kick. The Cowboys were already a bad team….really bad. And that was with Dak

  60. No QB is worth that.

    Way to screw your franchise for years to come. I should know, I watched the Vikings sign Cousins.

  61. There has never been a day in Dak Prescott’s life where his talent or performance justified a higher salary than Brady, Rodgers, Mahomes or Wilson – among others. Amazing.

  62. Mahomes knew the market would be changing yet still chose to sign long term.

    He and the Chiefs have zero regrets.

  63. Meanwhile, the purge continues in Seattle for the upcoming record extension. The number one most important thing to Russell? Being the highe$t paid………

  64. teddybear9 says:
    March 8, 2021 at 11:06 pm
    This has gone too far. I don’t care how good he is at some point we have to ask, where does this end. 160 million to play a game? Better spent at St Judes Children’s Hospital or in the fight to end cancer forever. No, we ll give 160 million to someone to play a game. Just stop it. There needs to be a cap limit on all of the players.

    So the owners deserve all the billions in yearly revenue?

  65. This is going to go down as one of the monumental bad contracts in history. Coming off a serious injury?! What if he isn’t quite the same player? And even if he is the exact same player he was like a top 10 QB on his best day. Never a top 5 guy. He’d have to come back significantly better to justify that sort of deal. And how are they ever going to put a decent team around him with that much money tied up in him?

  66. nite2al says:
    March 9, 2021 at 1:48 am
    Don’t bring up Brady. He was an idiot for taking those cheap deals at NE. The extra money was never used to sign better players because NE was cheap with everyone to begin with. Only good thing was with him being a game manager didn’t allow it to mess with top echelon QB money for others.

    —–

    The Patriots spend pretty much to the cap maximum every year. Because they don’t generally spend a lot on a small number of players, they tend to have more depth than most teams. This comes in pretty handy when players are inevitably injured.

    Now aren’t you a Ravens fan? Have the Ravens ever has a “top Echelon” QB? Ever? I can’t seem to recall even one…

  67. Olyhawkguy says:
    March 8, 2021 at 8:50 pm
    Prescott > Brady > Mahomes > Everyone Else

    In Jerruh we trust as the undisputed greatest football mind in the history of the NFL!!! Let’s just get it over with and change the “Lombardi” trophy to the “Jerry Jones Trophy”! Much better ring to it and Lombardi did pretty much nothing except steal ideas from younger coaches and take credit he wasn’t due.
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Stop, just stop. Read a book about Lombardi and learn a little more about the nfl before you post again.

  68. Its very hard to field a good team when one of your players demands that much money. Because then other elite/good players on your team are going to want a piece of that pie also. Now with players trying to renegotiate their contracts before they are up or asking to be traded will make that it that much more tough. The NFL has turned into the NBA. What good is a good QB when the rest of your team is junior varsity?

  69. Lets see now how many quality players they can put around Prescott with a 40 million hit against the cap…Or any other team with a large QB salary cap commitment…

  70. Nobody is forcing any team to pay quarterbacks so much money.

    I think that it’;s crazy to pay any one player that much, but evidently the owners disagree.

    In 2020, before Dak got injured, the Cowboys were scoring over 32 points per game, but still lost, allowing an average of 36 points per game to the opposition.

    The problem with Dallas is the Defense, and now they won’t have much money to improve it.

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