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It appears that the Dallas Cowboys and franchise quarterback Dak Prescott are at an impasse in contract extension talks. It was previously reported that Dallas had offered the Pro Bowl signal caller $30 million annually on a new deal.
Now comes this report from NFL Media’s Jane Slater indicating that Prescott is demanding what would be a league-record $40 million annually.
I can confirm reports that QB Dak Prescott has, in fact, turned down 30M a year offer and is instead seeking 40M a year per source informed. #Cowboys
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) August 12, 2019
As the quarterback market continues to reset itself, a player at this position will soon reach the $40 million per year threshold. Just don’t expect it to be Mr. Prescott. Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones just recently made this clear.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on @dfwticket talking about contract negotiations involving Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper: “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.” pic.twitter.com/hebsOzXT2c
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 31, 2019
The market is currently set at $35 million after Super Bowl winner Russell Wilson inked a four-year, $140 million extension with the Seattle Seahawks back in April. There’s no reasonable person out there who could believe that Prescott is a better quarterback than Wilson.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Prescott is set to earn a base of just $2.03 million this season. He’s obviously more valuable than that price tag.
The quarterback has posted a 32-16 career regular-season record in three seasons. That span has also seen him combine for 85 total touchdowns compared to 25 interceptions. At issue here is a reliance on Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, who remains a holdout from camp.
Prescott boasts a 4-4 record with a 76.3 rating in the eight games Elliott has been sidelined throughout their careers. He’s 28-12 with a 100 passer rating when the two are on the field together.
Rightfully so, Elliott wants to reset the running back market himself. He’s set to become a free agent following the 2020 season, meaning it’s become imperative for the Cowboys to extend him here soon.
Complicating things further, Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper is in line for a massive payday less than a calendar year after Dallas exhausted a first-round pick to acquire him from the Oakland Raiders. Like Prescott, Cooper is slated to become a free agent this coming March.
If all three are indeed looking to become the highest-paid players at their positions in the NFL, the Cowboys will find it difficult to retain the entire trio.
That’s where Prescott’s reported contract demand muddies things a bit for Dallas. Should the Cowboys fail to extend either player before the start of the new league year in March, one will have to hit the open market. The other? Dallas would be forced to place the franchise tag on said player.
It’s a last resort of sorts, especially given the growing quarterback market and pay around the league. As of right now, placing the franchise tag on Prescott would cost Dallas nearly $34 million for the 2020 season. That number would grow substantially if they had to do the same thing heading into the 2021 season.
This is why Prescott’s camp, led by Todd France at CAA Sports, believe they have the upper hand in negotiations with the Cowboys. Barring a change in the collective bargaining agreement ahead of its expiration date following the 2020 season, multiple years of Prescott under the franchise tag would create cap hell for the Cowboys.
Holding off on signing Prescott to an extension creates other issues, as well. Seven quarterbacks have completely reset the market over the past two-plus calendar years.
That’s going to take on a whole new meaning next March when reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes becomes eligible for an extension. He’ll likely be the first $40 million per year quarterback. Houston Texans signal caller Deshaun Watson will also be eligible for an extension in March.
This doesn’t even take into account Jared Goff’s pending extension after he led the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl last season.
The moral of the story here? Based on his body of work, Prescott shouldn’t receive a pay day comparable to these three. But based on the market dynamic, they will be used as fodder for Prescott’s camp should nothing come to fruition on this end here soon.
In the end, Dallas has to concern itself with the overall health of its cap. Even coming close to offering $40 million to Prescott would be a major detriment to long-term success in the Big D. That could lead to things getting ugly between these two sides.
It could also potentially lead to a premature divorce in this marriage. If Prescott’s camp remains set at $40 million, the Cowboys might be better off franchising him in March with the hopes of trading the Pro Bowler.
In turn, the Cowboys would save a lot of cash by adding a free-agent quarterback in a market that might be the best at this position over the past decade.
Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Tannehill are all slated to become free agents. While they are not at the same level as Prescott, each would come in at a fraction of Prescott’s asking price — enabling Dallas to keep other core pieces around long-term.