It’s the question that has been going through every single Dallas Cowboy fans head since the regular season came to a close. Is Dak Prescott getting a new contract with Dallas? The fourth year quarterback broke out in a big way in 2019, passing for almost 5000 yards and throwing 30 touchdowns while still showing his ability as a rushing quarterback with 3 rushing touchdowns. He looked like a franchise quarterback for much of 2019, even though he had some pitfalls along the way. At age 26, he still hasn’t even entered his prime for the quarterback position, and it looks like Dallas has every intention of trying to keep him. How can Dallas get this done, and what could it possibly look like?
Likely outcome: Dallas applies the franchise tag to Prescott while still negotiating with him to get a long-term extension done.
This seems like the most likely outcome from how these negotiations have been going. Dallas using the tag does not mean they’ve given up negotiations and want Prescott on a one year deal, it would simply be a placeholder while both sides work to hammer out a long-term extension. While some franchise tags are applied for exactly the opposite reason of keeping a soon-to-be overpriced free agent, this is not one of those times. The Cowboys have made it very clear they view Dak as their long-term solution at quarterback, and they won’t shy away from making him one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league.
The other reason this seems like the most likely outcome is that both Prescott and Dallas have been in negotiations for this contract extension seemingly forever, and I just don’t see them coming to a resolution before the franchise tag deadline, which is March 10th. This comes down to Dallas essentially mortgaging their future on him as a quarterback, and while I don’t doubt they will get a deal done, I do think it will take a while to get all the specifics figured out.
How much would Dak Prescott get paid on this new contract?
Dak is set to get maybe the most lucrative contract we’ve ever seen for an NFL quarterback. Having already rejected an offer north of 33 million a year, it’s becoming clear that Dallas will have to pony up in order to keep Dak wearing white and blue on Sundays. Rejecting that contract before the 2019 season started was a bet he made on himself, and it appears to have paid off in a big way.
Say what you want about their cushy strength of schedule to start the 2019 season, Dak simply looked unstoppable at multiple points throughout the year. Keep in mind that he did this with the infamous, milquetoast hand-clapper Jason Garrett as his head coach. Although I’m not a huge fan of Mike McCarthy either, I do think he is far and away a better coach than Garrett ever was, and he’ll be able to set Prescott up to succeed much better than Garrett ever did.
When this deal does get done, it will be around the 35-40 million per year mark in terms of annual value.
This will happen for two reasons. Number one, Prescott has proved himself capable of not only succeeding at the quarterback position, but also having the even keeled, level-headedness it takes to be a quarterback on a media-laden, constantly in the spotlight team like the Dallas Cowboys. Being a quarterback for a team like Dallas puts you under the microscope more than the President of the United States most of the time, and Dak has proven he can deal with all that while still focusing on winning games.
Number two, this is just the nature of how the quarterback position works in terms of getting paid in the NFL. Seemingly every quarterback contract extension is more lucrative than the last. With how hard it is to find and hang on to a true franchise quarterback, NFL front offices will never be shy in forking over a ludicrous amount of money to make sure they don’t lose their most important player.
Now, is Dak Prescott actually worth more than 35 million a year? It’s really hard to say, because with the salary cap seemingly in a perpetual cycle of increasing each year, it’s hard to measure quarterback contracts against each other in terms of what a quarterback may be ‘worth’. Is Jimmy Garoppolo worth 28 million a year? Probably not, but because San Francisco was able to lock down ‘their guy’ at the quarterback position, they set themselves up to succeed. We’re now seeing the positive results of that as the 49ers eye another Super Bowl title in one week against the Chiefs.
I believe Prescott is a better quarterback than Garoppolo. But if Garoppolo was in Prescott’s situation right now, he would command close to the same kind of contract extension, in terms of annual value.
All of this is to say that signing a franchise quarterback to a contract extension is less about how ‘good’ they are compared to other big name quarterbacks, and much more about timing. That’s the exact reason that Dallas wants to get this contract done as soon as humanly possible.
The Cowboys know that if they wait, other big quarterback extensions will be signed, which will only increase the price of locking down a guy like Prescott. This is especially true when you look at how many big name quarterbacks are set to hit the open market this offseason (Brady, Brees, Winston, etc).
I believe Dallas will get this contract done by offering Prescott around 37-38 million annually for a 5 to 6 year contract. This would make him the highest paid quarterback in the league and in Cowboys franchise history.
Is Dak deserving of becoming the highest-paid quarterback in the league? He probably isn’t, but that’s beside the point, because that’s just not how the quarterback position works in the NFL anymore. With how the salary cap works in the NFL now, if a quarterback gives their team even just a tiny glimpse of being a franchise quarterback, that team will do everything they can to make sure he sticks around. This now usually involves making them the highest paid quarterback in the league regardless of if they actually ‘deserve’ that designation or not.
One thing is for sure though, and that’s that this upcoming offseason will be future-altering for Dallas, and maybe the most important offseason they’ve had since signing Tony Romo to his contract extension back in 2013.
Picture Source: Cowboyswire.usatoday.com
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