The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of decisions to make personnel-wise as free agency approaches. Xavier Woods, Jourdan Lewis, and Chidobe Awuzie are all unrestricted free agents, making the secondary a point of interest. Aldon Smith, who had some flash moments after a five-year hiatus, is also set to hit the market along with backup quarterback Andy Dalton and many more.
Speaking of the quarterback position, Dak Prescott is the biggest free agent on the Cowboys roster, for obvious reasons. Earlier this week, ESPN ranked the top 50 free agents of 2021, and Prescott took the top spot.
ESPN Staff Writer Kevin Seifert on the Cowboys situation with their top signal-caller.
“To this point, there has been no reason to project long-term health implications from Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury. Assuming that remains the case, Prescott remains what every quarterback-needy team dreams of: a signal-caller who is highly productive, under 30 years old and universally respected as a leader. And if anything, he elevated those credentials in five games this season, averaging a career-high 371 passing yards per game. He also produced a Total QBR of 78.4, which would have been among the top five in the league if he had enough plays to qualify. But through another franchise tag or via a longer-term deal, it’s difficult to imagine the Cowboys letting him depart.”
The 2021 salary cap is projected to be around $180 million which is a significant drop from the $198.2 million that was set in 2020, all due to the loss of revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s an important nugget because Prescott played on a franchise tag that paid him $31.4 million this season, and it will balloon to around $38 million if a second tag is applied, which makes getting a long-term deal done extremely critical.
Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury in October that ended his 2020 campaign. However, in just five games, he was spectacular. Prescott led the NFL before his injury with 1,856 passing yards. He became the first quarterback in league history with three consecutive games with 450 yards or more.
Amari Cooper had his second consecutive 1,100-yard season in 2020 which included a career-high 92 receptions. Before Prescott went down, he was on pace for over 120 receptions and over 1,300 yards. Rookie sensation CeeDee Lamb registered 74 receptions for 935 yards. However, his pace was 93 receptions for over 1,300 yards while playing with Prescott.
The Cowboy’s offense averaged 32.6 points per game with Prescott under center. That number dipped to 21.1 points per game with Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, and Ben DiNucci running the offense.
Earlier this month, Cowboys Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones made an appearance on 105.3 The Fan to discuss the organization’s situation with Prescott. Jones stated that the former fourth-round pick has tons of leverage in future negotiations.
“I don’t know how you could have any more leverage,” Jones said. “His evolving into an NFL quarterback has been nothing short of a perfect picture. He has great ability, in my mind, to win games. He’s talented. He certainly has the experiences and he has all the things, which has been substantiated by what we’ve offered Dak. You wouldn’t offer Dak what we offered in the past if you’d not thought he was very special.
“The issue is, how do you come together? And that’s no stranger to me. I’ve been doing it all my life, putting things together. We’ve got to get it together.”
Prescott’s long-term security will be the main topic of the Cowboy’s offseason. Now, the only thing left to figure out is if he’ll have that lucrative deal he’s been seeking since 2019, or will he receive a second tag and be a free agent once again in 2022.