The new contract to officially be signed by Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will keep him in Dallas for at least four years. It could hasten the exit of other key players.
Although some are speculating that running back Ezekiel Elliott or receiver Amari Cooper could be traded soon due to Dak’s deal, the more likely outcome will be at least one more season with Cooper and Elliott before either or both are traded or released.
Last year, Cooper signed a five-year, $100 million contract that is, as a practical matter, a two-year, $40 million deal. After 2021, the Cowboys can walk away with no guaranteed money remaining and only a $6 million cap charge.
Elliott’s contract will be tougher to navigate, since his 2022 base salary of $12.4 million becomes fully guaranteed later this month. The question becomes whether another team would pay Elliot $12.4 million in 2022.
Elliott could be traded this year, with his base salary of only $9.6 million. A pre-June 1 trade, however, would trigger a $14.9 million cap charge for the Cowboys. It also would saddle his new team with the guaranteed salary of $12.4 million in 2022. (It’s hard not to at least wonder whether former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is thinking about trading for Elliott; however, the Jaguars have a much cheaper option on the roster in James Robinson.)
Given the structure of the Cooper and Elliott deals, Elliott is more likely to remain through 2022. Cooper, however, likely is entering his final year in Dallas — unless he agrees after the season to a major restructuring of the deal and reduction of his pay.