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Cowboys, Prescott 2 Weeks Away From Franchise Tag Deadline

If the Dallas Cowboys want to avoid using the franchise tag on Quarterback Dak Prescott then today starts a two-week window to get a long-term contract signed. The deadline for teams to tag players in 2021 in Tuesday, March 9th.

The much-publicized negotiations between Prescott and the Cowboys, which at this point go back to 2019, remain the dominant storyline for the franchise. The drama has only intensified with time and increasing potential costs to the Cowboys if they have to resort to a second-straight franchise tag in 2021.

After playing 2020 on a franchise tag salary of $31.4 million, Dak’s cap hit would rise to $37.7 million next season if tagged again. That would give Prescott the third-highest salary cap number in 2021 among all NFL quarterbacks.

The Cowboys need to get a multiyear contract done with Prescott so that there’s room to soften the immediate blow to the cap. Often you’ll see teams do what’s essentially an immediate restructure with the first year of a new contract, converting base salary into a signing bonus.

Dallas needs this flexibility as it deals with the reduced salary cap in 2021. While the official number hasn’t been set yet, projections range around $15-$18 million less next season than a year ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic reduced revenues and caused this lower number.

The Cowboys are in a better position to handle this than some thanks to having $25.4 million in unused cap space from 2020 carrying over to next season. But even with those funds, general inflation from existing contracts and the need to retain and add new talent in free agency and the draft quickly drains the wallet.

That’s why this extra $6.3 million for Prescott if he’s franchise tagged again is such a big deal. It’s not a lot of money on paper but it’s a sizeable enough chunk that it means missing out on at least one solid free agent or perhaps a few quality roleplayers.

But even more importantly, getting Dak’s cap number much lower through a multiyear contract would give the Cowboys far more room to operate this offseason.

Thankfully, March 9th isn’t a point of no return. Even if the franchise tag is used the two parties could still complete a long-term deal before free agency opens on March 17th. That’s when the impact of Prescott’s contract, for good or bad, will truly begin.

Hopefully, after almost two years of talks, the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott can finally stop courting and put a ring on it. Both sides have said all the right things about wanting to stay together but talk is forever cheap. It’s time to prove it.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. Is it possible Dak really wants to leave the Cowboys no matter what he says; because he knows the Cowboys will never get to a Super B owl because of Jerry?

  2. Maybe having Dak on the tag was the plan all along. Cowboys wanted a 5 year deal. Tag him for 1 and then sign him for a 4 year deal. You get your 5 year deal all along.

  3. Dak is just wanting to get his money , though I think that’s greedy , I can’t really fault him for that , but is it in the Cowboys best interest to get Dak the kind money he’s wanting ? If not then who’ll replace him ?

    are they gonna give him the non-exclusive tag ?

    one thing is for sure , it’s gonna be a crazy 2 weeks

    I encourage also guys to watch Speak for yourself 2/22/21 episode they talk about Dak and Cowboys twice on this episode asking :

    Who’s under more pressure to get a deal done , Dak or the Cowboys

    and is franchise tagging Dak too risky ?

  4. Saw Acho on “Speak for Yourself” talking Dallas NOT needing DP. I totally agree and in fact commented previously here about this same thing.

    Do people actually think that the Dallas Cowboys will not be just fine without DP???

    Do people actually think DP is irreplaceable???

    My fear is Cowboys cave in and pay ELITE MONEY to an above average QB and wreck our CAP situation Signing this guy to $40+ million per year will end any real hope of creating a team that can win a Super Bowl.

    To quote, in part, another commenter here, Donald G Skipper, who I agree with;

    “DP has proven he is Tony Romo 2.0. A low draft pick scenario who became a slightly above average QB that everyone in the media likes and who wants elite $ but cannot EARN elite money by elevating his team to win playoff games or championships. Lots of stats, lots of wasted money on his 2019 & future contracts, very few P O wins and no championships.

    DP has won one playoff game in 4+ years with a top 5 OL and decent defenses. He has failed on 8 of his last 9 4th quarter comeback chances and the one win required a fluke onside kick to beat a bad team in 2020.

    Cowboys were 8-8 in 2019. The losses to NO, NE, CHI, BUF, Philly, & Jets were not the fault of the defense. DP failed to lead 4th quarter win opportunities in all those games.

    DAK IS NOT AN ELITE CHAMPIONSHIP QB. He is a slightly above average NFL QB who has become a master at creating the illusion that he is elite by mesmerizing the fanboy media with his personality and by racking up empty stats against bad teams or against good teams in garbage time after the game is out of reach.

    It is way past time to accept that DP is a good guy but not “The Guy” and move on to find the QB than can actually elevate the Cowboys to championships.

    Yes, it is not easy to find great QBs but overpaying average QBs is not the path to winning the Super Bowl. Fortunately, Lawrence, Fields, Wilson, and Lance are all within reach in the 2021 draft and the cost to move up would be well worth the draft picks if the Cowboys can skillfully choose the best option.

    If DP will not play ball on a sign and trade, the Cowboys may be in a scenario where they have to let DP go for nothing but a comp pick to avoid a much bigger disaster of signing him long term with a permanent ankle issue that could appear at any moment.

    Nothing for DP is not ideal but it may be the best option and they are in a GOOD position to acquire a QB with elite potential in this draft and let DP and his agent go chase a foolish team that will risk a catastrophe by betting on his ankle and far over paying him”.

  5. Everyone needs to chill. The media hype over his dilemma is just that hype. Jerry and Stephen Jones will sign Dak long term prior to the March 9th deadline. The hype is too keep the Cowboys organization revelant during the off-season. Dak will be under center for the 2021 season. Take it to the bank! Guaranteed!

  6. Vam, Dak had injury to his shoulder in those games you mentioned suck it up for the team, did the best he could considering his physical condition. During Dak as well as Romo’s the Cowboys defense has been the wealthy link. Even, when the Defense had talent it didn’t play up to expectations in the playoffs of 2007, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2019. Defense wins Super Bowls . Witness to the Buccaneers beat up the Chiefs 3rd string offensive lineman.

    I still believe that Jerry and Stephen Jones will sign Dak long term. Enough said.

  7. Mr Football, so he had a shoulder injury in the NO, NE, CHi, BUF, PHI, and Jets games??? AHHH NO.

    BTW, we were not in the playoffs in 2010, 2015, 2017, or 2019.

    Now, its all about the defense??? The excuses never end for this guy.

    Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.

  8. Vam, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…. This is a TEAM sport, the TEAM record at the end of the season doesn’t show how good a QB is!! Why do you people keep putting a TEAM record on the QB!? That’s stupid!! Look at the actual QB stats…. Dak is top 5 in every category!! Just because the TEAM didn’t win certain games it doesn’t mean Dak isn’t good!! It takes a TEAM to win games not just the QB!! Does Dak play offensive line, RB, defense or even special teams?? NO he does not!! He plays QB and that’s it, so you people need to stop blaming the TEAM record on Dak!! Like I said, look at his QB stats that’s where the true stats are for him…. He’s a top 5 QB!!

  9. I certainly see both sides of the coin and they all have merit if one is open minded enuf to admit it. I also TOTALLY agree with Cowboys fan regarding this being a TEAM SPORT. The success of any team is reliant on all 52 players on the roster, good coaching and a little luck.

    It’s dumbfounding how win/losses are the only barometer for a QB but is disregarded when assessing the performance of every other position on the field. Frankly it defies logic. Now is the QB the most important position on the field? Well we know the answer to that. But again if any other player at any other position has a great game u never hear uh yea but his team lost. He’s deemed to have done his part. History is littered with HOF players who played on poor teams and had no playoff success but are considered the best to ever play their position. And no I’m not saying Dak is HOF material.

    As far as trading up for a QB. That’s much easier said than done and is unlikely to happen. The top 3 QBs in the draft will likely be gone by the #10 pick. So ur left with starting a 2nd tier QB and burning that coveted #10 pick which we know is needed for defense. Now ur starting a 2nd tier QB and don’t begin addressing this historically bad defense until the #44 pick. FA money is overrated especially in Jerry’s hands.

    Now I’m not necessarily implying that signing Dak to a huge contract is foolproof or even the way to go. I could certainly argue for the other side of the coin as well. Maybe at a later date just for fun.

  10. Ok yes I somewhat agree with it being a team sport but ask Mahomes and D Watson how much their contracts help that situation , the reason why a player that doesn’t have any playoff or SB success and still make to HOF is cuz if your QB is trash , there’s nothing you can do about it , just cuz Edelman has more SBs doesn’t mean he’s better than TO or Moss , I’m starting give less and less a damn about HOF anyways , if you were a good player who never got in trouble and have been linked with a great HOF QB such as Brady just as an example , you gonna have a better chance of getting in more quickly than someone who’s been troublesome , and didn’t play with a HOF QB but put up INCREDIBLE numbers like TO

    2nd what I found interesting in SFY episode , now this may speak to the EGO of Jerry but Emmanuel Acho said and I quote ” Dak you are REPLACEABLE , the Cowboys weren’t even TRYING to replace Romo , they go not in First Round , not in the 2nd Round , not in the 3rd Round , they go in the 4th Round , they stumbled onto you Dak , Romo was incidentally replaced , you can be intentionally replaced Dak. It doesn’t matter what we think , it only matters what Jerry thinks , and Jerry looking like , I got Romo as a FA , I got Dak as a 4th round pick , you best believe I can get me another QB ”

    also another part I found interesting Acho said , and this may not be exactly what he said , i’m just going off what i remember off the top of my head , is this ” If i’m not mistaken the Boys went 10-6 with Bledsoe one year , they went 9-7 with Quincy Carter another year , what do the Cowboys got to lose when they’ve had the same success with lesser QBs ? ”

    Yes I do believe Dak is very much replaceable and it seems Jerry thinks the same way as now I saw a report this morning that THERE’S NO PROGRESS IN DAK AND COWBOYS NEGOTIATIONS , BOYS WILL “PROBABLY” FRANCHISE TAG DAK PRESCOTT now the key word is probably , IDK how much stock I put into this but it has to have some significance

  11. Trading up in draft would be interesting , I’m guessing 2nd overall pick is still up for grabs so maybe if we can’t get Dak signed long term , do boys go for 2nd pick ?

  12. The excuses dude are so weak as to why the boys have sucked this last 2 seasons when Dak is at the helm , the number one weakest and dumbest excuse being Dak’s shoulder injury 2 seasons ago

    ok you wanna play that game ? Gisele Bundchen , Tom Brady’s supermodel wife , said in the past Tom was dealing with injuries on route to some of his SBs though it was never reported , Drew Brees reportedly was dealing with some injuries during a playoff run , Mahomes got foot surgery the day after they lossed SB to Bucs who oh btw Brady also too had surgery on his left knee after SB vs Chiefs , boy stop it with the weak sauce , if a QB is gonna get credit for when they win with that injury , they should also be credited for when they lose with them dealing with an injury

    2nd one where he gotta have better players put around him , though I think is a much better argument , it’s still a bit of an excuse , being one of , if not the highest paid QB and dealing with lack of a team put around you is part of it being paid that kind of money ,

    Mahomes has a injury prone O-Line , and a D with really good players , but an average to below average D , still makes it to SB

    D Watson ain’t got nobody , Will Fuller who if i’m not mistaken , missed 6 games last year for being suspended for PEDs , a injury prone Kenny Stills , and a old Randall Cobb as his WRs , he got an overpaid and injury prone RB , a old and overpaid DE in Watt last yr anyways and no one else defensively , and Tunsil at LT ,which is like a cherry on top of a pile of crap with the rest of that O-Line .

    Russell Wilson now coming out on talk shows talking about how bad his O-Line is , and before the Adams and Dunlap trades ,they were trash defensively .

    That’s your top 3 highest paid QBs in the league rn , you think our team gonna get better when we sign Dak to a huge contract like them ?

  13. Lol well u can back with a vengeance on the Dak contract talk didn’t u Throwupx88. Tell us how u really feel.

    Now let’s be honest Dallas DOES NOT have alot of talent. In fact they are lacking talent at every position except WR and QB yea I said it Lol. I won’t include OL because there are too many questions about the health of Smith and Collins.

    As far as trading up for a QB that’s a long shot to happen, and if you did a team would want the farm in return. Like it or not the likely options are sign him long term or go the more unlikely non exclusive tag route. I’m not convinced signing Dak long term is the answer, but I’m not convinced letting him go is the answer either. Personally I could make a strong case for either side. I’ll make time to argue the other side at a later date and offer my suggestions as to what I think the cowboys strategy should be if they decide to move on from Dak.

  14. The talent thing is fair , again though , outside of WR and maybe now Safety , what talent does Russ have in Seattle ? Or what about D Watson ?

    Now as far as what they’ll do , I’d rather they go the nonexclusive tag route , but there again what I think doesn’t matter , NO ONE’S THINKING ON THIS MATTERS it’s only Jerry’s thinking that matters , so based on what I think Jerry thinks , between Dak and his new agent pulling the rug underneath Jerry 2 seasons ago , to the numerous reports the boys would tag Dak if they can’t reach a agreement, and now reports saying they have had 0 progress in contract talks , I’m starting to believe Jerry will tag Dak , I could be wrong , as there have been other reports before that suggesting otherwise

    At the very least , we’re gonna find out how Jerry feels on Dak here pretty quick

  15. As far as draft , yes it may seem unlikely to trade up in draft , but it’s possible to do so , on the Cowboys Wire article I posted earlier , one of the BEST analytics teams out there in Football Outsiders did an article on ESPN+ outlining 32 bold moves for teams around the NFL

    They believe it might be in the best interest of the Cowboys to move off Dak and start over with a rookie , the Cowboys could retain their other stars and build like the Rams and Eagles from recent seasons, teams that leveraged the cost savings of Jared Goff’s and Carson Wentz’s rookie deals into exceptional roster depth and eventual Super Bowl berths

    They believe it would hurt the Cowboys floor short term , but it would significantly raise it’s ceiling with a guy like Zach Wilson

    Again , it’s Jerry’s call , but there’s a possibility of boys going forward in a different direction, like even what Emmanuel Acho said on SFY , we won 10 games with Bledsoe, we won 9 games with Quincy Carter , what are we gonna miss out on with Dak ?

    Outside of a SB there isn’t anything we’re missing out on , you think Dak can carry this team you say lacks talent to a SB anytime soon ?

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