Inside the Dak Prescott contract

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Dak Prescott‘s contract easily can be called the best contract ever signed (once it’s officially signed) by any player in league history. The relatively straightforward details of the contract are set forth below (per a source with knowledge of the contract), followed by some analysis of what it all means.

First, Prescott will receive a $66 million signing bonus. That’s the biggest signing bonus ever received by any player in league history.

Second, he’ll have a $9 million base salary in 2021, fully guaranteed. With the signing bonus paid out entirely in 2021, he’ll receive $75 million by the end of the 2021 regular season. That’s also a record one-year payout.

Third, Prescott’s 2022 salary is $20 million, fully guaranteed. That equates to $95 million fully guaranteed at signing, also a record.

Fourth, he’ll receive in 2023 a base salary of $31 million. It’s guaranteed for injury for now, and it becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2022 league year. Thus, to avoid owing him $126 million fully guaranteed, the Cowboys will have to cut Prescott after one year, at $95 million.

Fifth, Prescott has a $5 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2024 league year, along with a 2024 base salary of $29 million. Both payments are non-guaranteed.

The contract includes a pair of voidable years, aimed at giving the Cowboys the ability to cram cap space from the four-year, $160 million deal into 2025 and 2026.

Prescott eventually will have three different protections against the franchise tag in 2025. First, although a no-tag clause is not yet in the draft of the contract, it’s expected to be added. Second, Prescott and agent Todd France insisted on the second tag being applied this year. This makes it, as previously mentioned, difficult if not impossible to ever franchise-tag him again, since it would entail a 44-percent increase over the cap number from the last year of his contract. Third, the final two years of the contract void the day before the start of the 2025 league year, after the franchise-tag deadline. Thus, if all else fails, he can’t be tagged in 2025 because his contract won’t expire until it’s too late to tag him.

At a minimum, Prescott has a three-year, $126 million deal. With no tag available in 2025, the Cowboys will surely try to convert the last year of the deal into a new contract. If not, he gets $160 million over the next four years. That’s $29.3 million more than Mahomes will make over the next four years, and he’ll still be under contract for seven years after that.

The deal also compares very favorably to the first four years of money paid to other top quarterbacks under their current deals. The $160 million payable to Prescott from 2021 through 2024 exceeds the first four years of Russell Wilson‘s current deal by $29 million. As to the first four years of Aaron Rodgers‘ current deal, it’s $35.5 million more. As to the first four years of Matt Ryan‘s current deal, it’s $42.5 million more. As to the first two years of Deshaun Watson‘s deal, it $49.2 million more. In comparison to the first four years of the Jared Goff contract, it’s $49.9 million more. As to the first four years of the Carson Wentz deal, it’s $56.1 million more. And as to the first four years of the Patrick Mahomes deal, the payout Prescott will receive exceeds the Mahomes contract by $56.4 million.

Prescott will be back in position to get another deal as soon as three years from now. At the latest, he’ll be on the open market in 2025, free and clear and subject to no tags. He’ll only be 31 at the time; for franchise quarterbacks, 31 is the new 21.

105 responses to “Inside the Dak Prescott contract

  1. That’s an awful lot for somewhere around the 8th to 12th best QB in the NFL.

  2. Seems like crazy money for a guy who is a very good, but seemingly not elite level QB, comjng off a devastating injury, but good for him!

  3. So Jerry caved on both the effective term (4 yrs) and total dollars. On the good side for the Cowboys, with the new TV contracts, the cap will increase quite a bit after 2021.

  4. This is why the Cowboys are always irrelevant. Way overpaid for a slightly above average qb. Jerry jones is a lousy GM. Fortunately, I don’t like the Cowboys.

  5. Wow, good for Dak but man are the Cowboys all in with this roster for the next 4 yrs. They must know that his recovery is coming along well because they need him to play equal to early-2020 to earn this pay. I don’t see how they can afford a defense to even win their division, not to mention win a playoff game.

  6. The Cowboys are really good at negotiating… against themselves.. by removing all of their own leverage. Geez.

  7. You give a guy with a broken ankle this kind of money. Then you have Arod making way less. Whos overpaid and underpaid here? Pretty obvious.

  8. Too much of a salary cap hit for a player of his capabilities. He was an average QB before the injury which means there are 10 QBs that are better than he is.

  9. So, an already-rich guy got a lot richer? Awesome.

    As is always the case whenever anyone goes on and on about guarantees in a sports contract, guarantees only matter when a player isn’t worth the money. If they are, they wouldn’t be cut, so they’d get every penny, anyway. By seeking guarantees with such gusto, the priority is on getting paid when the money isn’t deserved.

  10. Good luck. Way too much money for him. No championships coming Dallas’ way anytime soon.

  11. I would take ANY of the above listed QBs over Dak. ESPECIALLY for how much less they make. Often in real life the least deserving people make the most and it seems that is translating to football more and more each day.

  12. This is insane.

    1) if the cowboys couldn’t win anything with a stacked team and dak making $1m a year on a 4th round rookie contract… How the hell are they going to win with a weaker roster and no cap space?

    2) I remember just 15 years ago brady signing a year 4 year $42m contract after he won 3 Superbowls in 2005…

    For context the cap was $85m and this year is $180m.. so yeah brady took about half the % or team cap than and still is now.

    Good for Dak personally… Bad for team success and cowboys chances of winning SB

  13. You forgot to add that Dak will count just $22M this season against the cap freeing up $15M in cap space. The cap is expected to sky rocket with the new TV deals so his contract will look really favorable down the stretch. Not a bad deal at all.

  14. The dollar amount was surprising (Dak is top 10 but that ankle), the details are mind boggling. You don’t often see such a player friendly contract.

  15. Good luck keeping any good players from here on out with that cap hit Jerry!

  16. So what’s next – we gonna have to start paying really good backup QBs 60 million over 4 years?

  17. Reading this makes me want to vomit. Problem is Jerry is to old, he doesn’t care about the future, he wants it all now, the ship be damned.

  18. Jerry blinked harder than someone looking straight into the sun after coming out of a dark room.

    Dak is good, but not that good. Jerry freaking out and recklessly signing away any chance to build a good team around him. Zeke and Jaylon offer more proof Jerry has further lost his marbles

  19. I have a feeling they’ll be regretting this for years to come. This will complete the trifecta of 2016 quarterbacks who got that big payday then sank into mediocrity.

  20. Two things – there comes a point where the money these people make is obscene. Second, this cannot possibly be healthy for the league when 1 player takes such a massive amount of the cap; teams CANNOT overcome this short of having an all knowing GM to get massive bargains every single draft… we’re talking Jerry Jones. Yep they are done for.

  21. There is no way he will ever be able to live up to this contract. Success will not be measured by yards or touch downs but by Super Bowl wins and by taking up that much of the cap he just guaranteed that it will never happen.

    I bet the fans will be turning on him by mid season.

  22. makes NO sense. ZERO. after ALL this time and all that negotiating, Jerry Jones has a 80 yr old “what the hell” give up moment?? why ruin ALL of his sons future wealth by giving such an outlier of a contract. heck of ALL years this wasn’t the yr to get a forklift up his behind by Dak’s agent. Cowboys have the 10th ?? pick in the draft … could have used that to to move up for a QB (ok doesn’t fit Jerry’s style or Cowboys time but could have used it for a QB trade….. ZERO ZERO ZERO chance Dak gets this contract from another team THIS yr . at BEST he would get a 3 or 4 yr Goff/ Wentz money deal BUT NOT their guarentees they got coming off injury and covid reduced salary cap when too many QB’s coming in from rnd 1 PLUS several available thru FA Darnold/ JWinston/ Garrapolo/ Mariota/ …. NFL is changing where QB’s are NOT worth long term commitments since they are so highly paid when 1.5 seasons of not making it to the final 4 results in teams looking to move their QB’s… thus do not make long term commitments like mega guarentees … pay the QB’s well YES but have flexibility like San Fran with Garrapolo. 49’ers see as good but they think they can do better … fine move on zero to cut him/ trade … Jerry fought his usual “I’m gonna win the negotiating” battle but then gave up and 5 yrs from now Jerry’s son won’t be able to have his own yacht while agent Todd France will be moonlighting in movies being a super agent to Jerry McGwirre’s son whose head weighs 8 lbs and has a nuclear rocket arm only comparable to Sidd Finch of Sports Illustrated April 1 1985.

  23. Very very impressive…for Dak. Jerrah sure screwed himself over trying to get on the cheap with him 2-3 seasons ago. I’d be curious to see a calculation of by how much given the assumption of a top of market contract then.

  24. That is an insane amount of money for one year of ANY player, let alone a guy whose foot was on backwards week 5 of last year.

  25. Jerrah is desperate to win one more ring before he dies and just threw a hail Mary with this deal. Dak better win at least one Super Bowl or this contract was a bust. I will say, it was structured as a cash deal with helps both parties: Dak gets cash up front and the Cowboys get low cap hits since signing bonuses are paid in cash and don’t impact the cap money. I

  26. And yet, he’s never won a big game in his career. This contract will handcuff the Cowboys for years and it’ll end with no NFC Championships, yet alone Lombardi Trophies to show for it.

  27. Maybe Jerry has inside information on where the salary cap is expected to be in the foreseeable future, but this just seems to be a very large part of the cap invested in one player. History has shown that it is rare for teams to win the SB when their QB has a very high cap charge. Even for great players like Patrick Mahomes, it will start to get tougher. In 2020 his cap charge was $5 mil. This year it is $25 mil. in 2023 it is $42 mil.

  28. Once again, you mini GMs were wrong. You said Dak would not get a great deal and he’s not worth it. I told you it’s not about Dak, it’s what the market bears for an above average QB when his times comes. He will get paid and he deserves it, plain and simple. Some of you even said save $$ and go with no playoff winner Dalton, laughable.
    A few years ago, you all said AZ was going with Bosa when every tea leaf known to man said Murray was the #1 pick. Please stay in your armchair and out of NFL business because obviously you have no idea what you are talking about.

  29. I’m so sick of all the haters. Dam has nothing to prove to anybody. He has, shown, beyond any doubt, that he’s a little bit better than Andy Dalton.

  30. Wow. This makes it really tough for Green Bay. One is worth this money, and one is not. Two guesses.

  31. Prescott won all right. But that means the Cowboys lost. I’d have mixed feelings at best if I were a Cowboy fan. I’d be comfortable with Mahomes or Watson resetting the QB curve….but is Prescott in that class?

    That Mahomes deal is looking better and better for the Chiefs.

  32. The Cowboys way overpaid for Zak, especially coming off the injury. Have fun in mediocrity as you can’t retain the players to put talent around him. Expect some more cuts as they still have cap space to free up and they have to sign their draft picks.

  33. That was a waste of money! Dak’s never won anything and now won’t even see the play-offs for the next 4 years with this crappy team.

  34. Time to get rid of signing bonuses so teams can legally cook their books. The NFLPA has chosen to throw young players under the bus & the owners are complicit, as well. Too many overpaid veterans in pro sports. Will leave it at that or we’ll be here all night

  35. Jerry is desperate and with desperation comes luncacy. I support Dak getting what he can but is he really worth more than Mahomes, Brady, Rodgers and Wilson? No. Jerry is smoking the loco weed. The ironic part of it will be that even after all that money and little to pay the supporting players Dak will need we’re probably still talking about a .500 or game better team that struggles to even make the playoffs.

  36. 1) Patrick Mahomes must be kicking himself
    2) Dak has had his success behind a dominant o-line which has since regressed. Will Dak be the same guy with a bad o-line?
    3) Dak had a major injury but the new contract indicates that there is little concern regarding his ability to bounce back.

  37. Todd France may have just attracted a boatload of more clients. Way to use the tag against a team.

    As a Washington fan, I could have told JJ that it’s a always a mistake to tag your QB. Why? Because in essence, you’re kind of rooting for him to have an off year while playing on the tag. If he does well, it blows up on your face.

    I like Dak and think he’s a good QB. But he’s not that good. Nice job, Jerruh!

  38. And he isn’t even that good. That’s what happens when you buy name brands.

  39. Great for Dak, Sad for Cowboy fans.
    At the end of his deal will mark 30 years without a Superbowl and counting.

  40. Two years, he’ll be complaining like Russell Wilson, that he doesn’t have enough help. Way to hamstring your team, Dak.

  41. It’s a good deal for Dak.
    But that’s about market rate for a good QB.
    Let’s say he is over paid by $2mm per year. That’s not a big deal at QB, just don’t sign a bad mid level free agent one year.
    Dak was having a very good 2020 and proved his doubters wrong.

  42. That’s a hell of a deal. He and his agent played the situation perfectly. In almost all circumstances, a player suffering a serious, season-ending injury wouldn’t get such a good contract but honestly, the injury showed the Cowboys how much he was worth to the team and may actually turn out to have got him more money.

  43. This ensures that the Cowboys will perennially be in the hunt to go 6-10, with Dakota leading the charge

  44. The team is over the cap and has a horrible defense. Good luck trying to put up 35+ points a game to keep pace with your opponent.

  45. This is like one of those “only in Florida …” memes except Jerry said hold my beer after seeing one of those…

    Anyone remember from 2 years ago when Jerry said “And they want to see the market. We can’t push the issue unless we want to be a market-setter. And we’re damn sure not going to be a market-setter.”

    And then proceeded to give Zeke a market setting contract? He just doubled down and doubled down again on his previous market setting mistake.

  46. Eye-Popping numbers for a QB who is pretty good, but never close to the top 5 QB’s in the league. In fact, right now, I’d say Brady, Mahomes, Watson, Wilson, Kyle Allen, Rogers, Jackson, Stafford and Kyler Murray are all better right now, and Herbert and Burrow are well on the way to being better. I might be missing a guy or two as well Mayfield? I’m very happy for him, and I’m glad to see a guy who was drafted late succeed at the position, but man, that’s big money for a guy who barely cracks the top third.

  47. More power to Dak. But this is ridiculous for a QB of his limited accomplishments. If I’m not mistaken he’s won one playoff game in 5 years. In a lousy division.

    Much more than Brady, Mahomes, Rodgers, and Wilson.

  48. The NFL is a tough business. I’ve always felt that the Cowboys should try to keep Dak, Jerry has seemingly gone well beyond what was necessary to keep him. And the next QB will expect their deal to top Dak’s.

    I feel like players deserve whatever they earn – it’s a lucrative company to work for – and most players have very short careers, 3-4 years. But QB salaries are by far the most out-of-whack in the league. They can’t keep going up like this, especially not with the COVID cap hit.

  49. He and his agent played the situation perfectly.

    He sure did. They had another thing in their favor….Jerruh. It’s like challenging a child to a boxing match. I know some Cowboys fans and they are not happy about this and I dare say most dislike this questionable move by a clueless owner. The Cowboys may be lucky to get to 6-10 these next several years because 2/3 of their cap is being spent on eight players. That doesn’t leave much room to improve that defense that was so bad last year.

  50. Any qb who hasn’t won a super bowl or MVP shouldn’t make more than 20 million a year.

  51. This is almost unbelievably comical.

    Not laughing at Dak – I don’t begrudge a guy getting paid at all – it’s not Dak’s fault the guy paying him is an idiot.

    And make no mistake – I believe JJ has cemented his status as an idiot with this contract. If they win a Super Bowl, I stand corrected – but I just don’t see it.

  52. The total money doesn’t matter since all owners are billionaires. It’s the yearly cap hits. This year it will be only $22M and next will be $33 which are extremely manageable. The cap is way down this year and will dramatically increase next year.

  53. this is going to blow up in jerry’s face (surprise). did he forget this guy coming off a major leg injury, too?

  54. Wow! The wonders of modern medicine. After that horrific leg injury, I had doubts whether Dak would ever get back to the gridiron. I hope there was some medical evaluation (for both sides) as part of this process. An immobile QB being chased down by 325+ pound defenders being at risk of further serious injury could lead to a lifetime in a wheel chair. That’s no good no matter how much ca$h he has.

  55. This was inevitable because Jerrah went to the press 3 years ago and said they were going to pay him well. I don’t understand how a legitimately successful business owner can be so stupid. He painted them into a corner 3 years ago when he said that and then has consistently repeated it since then. Look at the big $$ they have paid out in the last few years to slightly above average talent. The teams that compete for championships year in and year out do not over pay for players. This deal, among others in the last few years, guarantees that Dallas won’t compete for the title for the next 4 years.

  56. Are any of you people educated enough to understand common sense economics of scale? It is what it is. This was a good deal for Dallas in the long run and will let them go into this season concentrating on the D without the distraction of Dak and the cap. Does not matter how good he is. All that matters is he is good enough and will be a bargain by next year after Josh, Lamar and Baker get paid.

  57. Way to much money for the results he has produced so far. Now he got paid, do you really think he is going to work harder to get better? History says no. LMMFAO!!!

  58. Guess this just proves that an NFL team is a golden goose. Makes money no matter what. So Jerry will continue to make money from the TV deals and other sources that don’t depend on a SB win or even a winning record.

    And in a couple of years these numbers may seem reasonable (remember when Cousins’ contract seemed astronomical). On the other hand, these QB contracts are out of whack. Pay the OL and DL & the other players who really get smacked like punching bags and are injured after a few years.

  59. jrterrier5 says:
    March 9, 2021 at 8:51 am

    More power to Dak. But this is ridiculous for a QB of his limited accomplishments. If I’m not mistaken he’s won one playoff game in 5 years. In a lousy division.

    What difference does accomplishments make? When FLacco won the SB, 99% of you balked at his subsequent contract. You guys just hate to see players get paid. But Tom Cruise gets 35 million for a crappy movie and nobody says a thing.
    Flacco actually earned his deal, btw. If not for Tom Brady and the Patriots, he could very well have 2 more SB wins.

  60. In completely unrelated news; the Cowboys are about to announce ticket prices will be raised for the upcoming season, and every season thereafter.

  61. nite2al says:
    March 9, 2021 at 10:20 am
    jrterrier5 says:
    March 9, 2021 at 8:51 am

    More power to Dak. But this is ridiculous for a QB of his limited accomplishments. If I’m not mistaken he’s won one playoff game in 5 years. In a lousy division.

    What difference does accomplishments make? When FLacco won the SB, 99% of you balked at his subsequent contract. You guys just hate to see players get paid. But Tom Cruise gets 35 million for a crappy movie and nobody says a thing.
    Flacco actually earned his deal, btw. If not for Tom Brady and the Patriots, he could very well have 2 more SB wins.
    I mean, if you merely compare Dak’s body of work to, let’s say, other NFL QB’s, he absolutely is not worth this deal. BTW; Flacco is 44-51 since that SB, so….

  62. Hey, it’s not like Dak is coming off an injury that kept him out a large chunk of last year. Wait…

  63. It looks like a recently cashed up Jerry found a use for his new money. Those poor people of Texas should be pretty pissed that their $16K power bills and Jerry betting that the Texas power system would fail (or well timed turning off of a few power stations) with a little snow storm and sky rocket prices would allow Jerry to give Dak a truck load of cash.

  64. Just when I was ready to admit my Texans were the worst run team in the NFL, Jerry swoops in for the “slam dunk” of stupid moves.

  65. The contract gives Dak the 13th highest cap hit for 2021. So this is clearly a solid market-value contract. Yes the Cowboys are poorly run but in this case the haters are completely clueless.

  66. A borderline top ten QB with a low ceiling coming off a demolished leg, back up the Brinks truck.

  67. This is why the Cowboys are never going to win anything more with the Joneses at the helm. They’re deep into “shiny toy syndrome”, overpaying for mediocrity.

    Prescott is 5-13 against winning teams the last 3 years and his one playoff win came 3 years ago. That’s not magically going to get better with money.

    The trajectory of Jones’s Cowboys has been from getting the best talent and not accepting mediocrity, under Johnson, to accepting more and more mediocrity and paying more and more for it.

    Now they have a roster full of guys that no other teams would want getting paid like guys who’ve actually won something. Look for years of the same drudgery ahead.

  68. Americans pay too much for their entertainment. It’s ludicrous, decadent and quite stupid.

  69. Paid waaaay too much. The GOAT made $30 million with the Bucs and win the Super Bowl. Unless you are an obvious superstar talent (Mahones), these contracts for good but not necessarily great qb’s are getting out of hand.

  70. jbcommonsense says:
    March 8, 2021 at 11:40 pm
    Paying Dak more than Mahomes. How about them Cowboys?

    To be fair, how would the negotiations go if Jerry started with “Dak, you’re not as good as Mahomes so we won’t pay you more than him…”?

    tiredofwinning says:
    March 9, 2021 at 4:43 pm
    Americans pay too much for their entertainment. It’s ludicrous, decadent and quite stupid.

    Player salaries are based around the income of the league, so if the NFL is bringing in billions of dollars (which will increase with the new broadcast deals) then it all works out fine. Pro athletes provide a specialized service which entitles them to whatever their respective league and/or team wants to pay them. It’s a world that has little to do with the reality of the common person.

  71. $20 million a year more than Tom Brady on a perennial losing team with 1 playoff win. So 22% of team salary is spend on one of 53 players. No wonder Dallas is a serial losing outfit.

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