Dak and Cowboys Can’t Come To a Long Term Agreement: What It Means For His Future in Dallas

Under Jerry Jones’ ownership, the Dallas Cowboys have built a reputation of re-signing the star players they really want to keep. It has continued throughout the current team with Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, La’el Collins, Jaylon Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence and Zack Martin all signing long-term extensions of at least five years over the last two years. But somehow the trend stopped with the most important player on the team.

Quarterback Dak Prescott will be playing the 2020 season under the franchise tag. While that gives him a $31.4 million guaranteed contract for the upcoming season, the largest single-season payout in team history, the two sides failed to reach a long-term agreement by the 4pm deadline on July 15th.

The Cowboys have made offers that have reached the $35 million per year mark with over $100 million guaranteed on a five-year deal. Most critics and executives agreed that the offers were more than fair, and probably a bit of an over pay. Nonetheless Prescott’s representatives declined each offer as they were seeking just a 4-year deal at similar money.

The two sides cannot return to the negotiating table until 2021, which seems relatively soon, but a lot could change by then.

If Prescott stays healthy and plays well, his asking price increases significantly next year, potentially forcing the Cowboys to franchise tag him a second time, which would be worth a whopping $38 million.

But that isn’t a win scenario for the Cowboys. It becomes the Washington football team-Kirk Cousins situation. The Cowboys should want to avoid that at any reasonable cost.

As long as Prescott avoids any significant injuries – he has never missed a start in his four-year career – he will likely get the money he’s seeking from another team if he reaches the open market. That is just the way the QB market plays out, they generally get what they ask for.

Critics believe the Cowboys haven’t gotten a deal done because they aren’t 100% sold on Prescott. I call bullshit on that take. If they were not sold on Prescott then they wouldn’t have gave multiple offers worth $100 million guaranteed.

If the Cowboys were interested in going in another direction at the position, this was a pretty good offseason to do it with established starting quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Cam Newton available on the open market. With a Super Bowl contending roster, the Cowboys wouldn’t have stuck with Prescott if they didn’t think he is their long term answer at the position.

In the past year of negotiating, Jerry and Stephen Jones have made it clear they want Prescott in Dallas for a long time. But Prescott’s contract has to fit their plans for the rest of the salary cap.

“Certainly, individually, they want to be recognized when it comes to the money, but on the other hand, it’s got to fit our plan, or it doesn’t work with our house and our house falls,” Jerry Jones said last year at training camp. “As far as doing something that would disrupt and shake the base of our plans, for us to keep the talent we’ve got here and how to do that, I’m not about to shake that loose.”

To Jerry Jones’ defense, he has provided Prescott quite the supporting cast, locking them up long term too. Cooper, Elliott, Lawrence and Martin are among the highest-paid players at their positions. So the money isn’t really an issue.

Jerry Jones said that a long-term deal with Prescott was “imminent.”

Prescott seems to second that sentiment.

“When you’re the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, you don’t give much thought to being the quarterback of another team.” he said on NFL Network in late January.  “I’ve got a lot of confidence that something will get done here soon.”

While both sides are saying the right thing, history would suggest this relationship doesn’t end well.

Prescott will be only the third quarterback in NFL history to play under the franchise tag. The other two are Kirk Cousins, while he was with Washington, and Drew Brees, during his final year in San Diego. The previous two situations led to those players reaching free agency and becoming franchise QBs for other teams in the prime of their careers.

Like I stated earlier, I fully believe the two sides to come to an agreement in 2021. The Cowboys don’t have a clear path to finding a QB to replace Prescott. No QB on the open market would be as good as Prescott, and drafting a QB would mean the team’s window to contend closes.

The most logical plan is to keep Prescott for the long term. That’s still the hope of both parties, and it could still happen. But Wednesday was an important day. And the fact that nothing happened means it just became more difficult to make that most logical long-term plan happen.

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