The Dallas Cowboys’ 2020 season ended yesterday with their loss to the New York Giants. However, there is much new business to attend to as the Cowboys and 17 other NFL teams can begin their offseason work while the rest duke it out for a championship. Dallas’ biggest concern going into this 2021 offseason is the contract of Quarterback Dak Prescott.
Prescott and the Cowboys had to settle for the franchise tag in 2020 after failing to reach a long-term agreement during last year’s negotiations. Dak is once again set to become an unrestricted free agent this year unless Dallas gets him signed or uses a second-straight franchise tag.
Once July 15th, 2020 passed without a long-term contract signed between them, the Cowboys and Prescott could no longer work out a deal until after the end of the regular season.
For the first time since July 15, Cowboys and QB Dak Prescott can engage in contract negotiations. Embargo ended with season’s conclusion today. Both sides seek a long-term extension. Prescott is expected to be franchise tagged for second time in March if no deal reached by then.
Only Dak, his agent, and the Cowboys front office know for sure how much negotiating has still taken place since July. It’s not something the league is likely to investigate or enforce the way it would with general free agent tampering; Prescott was still part of the organization under the franchise tag.
But it hasn’t been until now that negotiations could be made public and something could finally be put to paper. And based on comments today by Stephen Jones, getting Dak Prescott signed to a long-term contract is their number-one priority.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on @1053thefan said getting Dak Prescott a new contract is “certainly right there at the top” of their list of priorities this offseason. Jones mentioned that they have to see the impact COVID-19 will have on the 2021 salary cap
While many Cowboys fans don’t want to hear about the salary cap and just want to see Dak get the contract he deserves, there’s no denying that 2021 will present unprecedented challenges to NFL front offices.
Current projections have the salary cap dropping around $22 million this year due to lost revenues from the pandemic. The cap has only ever decreased one other season; the lockout year in 2011. But even then the decrease was significantly less than what’s potentially coming.
Even coming off his season-ending leg injury, 27-year-old Dak Prescott would still be the top QB and arguably top player overall in the 2021 free agent class. He was on pace to smash the single-season record for passing yards before his injury and would have plenty of suitors willing to make him one of the league’s most-compensated quarterbacks.
The Cowboys have maintained all year that they are committed to Prescott as their franchise QB. But we heard the same last year and saw that there were certain lines of money and years in the contract that Dallas was not willing to cross.
Now after going 6-10 and seeing what an average QB like Andy Dalton was made of, will the Cowboys be more flexible in their discussions? Or conversely, could the severity of his injury and fear of the future cause Prescott to be a less resolute in his demands?
The Cowboys have incentive to get this deal done before the start of 2021 free agency in March. The first year of a long-term contract with Prescott would certainly carry a lesser cap hit than the $37.7 million he would receive on another franchise tag. That would give Dallas more spending power for other free agents when the market opens.
We’ve been waiting over a year for a final answer to this question. Prescott says he wants to be a Cowboy and the Cowboys say that want Prescott; can the two sides finally agree on the terms to make it a reality?