One of the strangest narratives associated with the new Dak Prescott contract goes like this: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was willing to make a four-year, $160 million commitment because he has unique knowledge that the new TV deals will make that a very affordable contract.
The truth is that everyone connected to the game knows it. Reports have emerged periodically and consistently for weeks. All indications are that the rights fees will skyrocket. There’s nothing unique about Jerry’s information; the contracts are coming, they’re going to be extremely lucrative, and they’re going to help the salary cap increase.
It’s unclear how this notion that Jerry had access to a TV contracts crystal ball got started. Regardless, it makes no sense. All owners know what’s coming. Does that mean they’ll all going to overpay for players? Hell no.
The Cowboys overpaid Dak because they overplayed their hand. They consistently thought Prescott would blink, taking something far less valuable than what he eventually used unprecedented leverage to obtain — a record signing bonus ($66 million), a record first-year payout ($75 million), and a record amount of money fully guaranteed at signing ($95 million). He got that with only a four-year commitment, one that can’t be involuntarily extended by the Cowboys via the franchise tag.
It’s no surprise that Jerry spent some time on Wednesday bolstering this phony narrative that he has inside information about the coming surge of cash and cap space.
“I’m pleased to say that I read someplace where, ‘Well Jerry’s got a good feel for where they’re gonna be on their [TV] contracts, and so that’s the biggest sign you got. He just signed Dak to a record contract,'” Jones said at the press conference announcing the contract. “Well, so be it. Yes. Exactly. I do feel good about our future. I feel great about our future.”
That sounds a lot better as the justification for paying so much money to Dak than saying, for example, “We played poker with Dak and lost our shirts.”
The reality for NFL franchises is that, even when they lose their shirts, they still win. The Cowboys will continue to make more and more money. Every team will continue to make more and more money.
For Dallas, the challenge will be putting a team around him with whatever cap space is available, this year and beyond, due to the fact that they ended up paying Dak so much more than they would have paid if they’d made him an offer he couldn’t refuse after the 2018 season, when he first became eligible for a long-term contract.