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Cowboys would be wise to extend these 3 players sooner than later

The NFL salary cap increases seemingly every season.

This has created a world where players are intent on beating the last big contract signed at their respective position.

Player A enters the last year of his rookie deal, and is paid X amount of money, giving him the highest annual salary of any other player at his position.

A few months later, Player B feels he should be the highest paid.

Player B then signs a record contract.

and all of the experts on television debate for weeks whether or not Player B deserves more money than Player A.

Player C enters the chat. You can see where this is going. The cycle starts all over again.

The Dallas Cowboys are not immune to this cycle and will have some negotiating to do with several of their own franchise players in the coming months.

Starting this offseason, we have seen a remarkable change in how the Cowboys' does business.

was released from his contract to make a lateral move to Los Angeles.

A surprise considering how much Dallas values their own homegrown talent.

Several other coaches were also given their walking papers after a second straight season with a premature playoff exit.

& Co. used precious draft capital to for two playmaking veterans in an attempt to get the team over the hump.

Dallas is usually trying to stockpile draft capital as opposed to spending it on aging veterans.

When it comes to contract talks, we can all hope that this new team philosophy will also be applied to that aspect of the business.

The Cowboys have a reputation for being reactive to the market instead of proactive, and it often ends with them being on the short end of the negotiations.

Here are the top three offensive players who I believe it would behoove Owner/GM and Executive Vice President to reach contract extensions with sooner rather than later.

My top three defensive players will be addressed in part two of this article.

Buy or Sell: The Cowboys are "putting QB Dak Prescott on notice," could draft a QB early
Cowboys' QB Dak Prescott

QB Dak Prescott

Years left on contract: 2
Average annual salary/NFL rank: $40 million/T-9th

QB Dak Prescott had his contract recently restructured, converting roughly $25 million of his salary into a pro-rated bonus.

This move brought his cost down to approximately $26.8 million.

It also ballooned his 2024 salary cap cost to almost $60 million. The salary cap is flexible, but general managers aren't magicians.

The money is just moved further along in the contract, and sometimes beyond the agreed-upon years of the actual contract.

It's a clever hand trick, but not the disappearing act many think it is.

QB , QB , and QB Lamar Jackson all set the market in some way, shape, or form in the past calendar year.

Does everyone agree that QB is the clear-cut best quarterback in the world?

The answer from most unbiased football fans would be a resounding “YES”.

What if I told you that Mahomes is not even in the top five quarterbacks as far as average annual salary goes?

The Cowboys would be wise to extend these three players sooner than later 2
NFL QB top 10 average annual salary; photo taken from

Cowboys' QB Dak Prescott ends up tied for ninth on this list, coming in at $40 million per year.

Personally, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes are the only quarterbacks I would say are clearly better than Dak. The rest are up for debate.

If outsiders believe Dak should be up there somewhere in that top five, it's a certainty that Prescott and his agent Todd France believe so as well.

The longer the Cowboys wait, the more expensive Dak will become.

Quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, , and Joe Burrow will be in contract talks soon, and all will likely demand to be the highest paid at their position.

The Cowboys have played this game with Prescott before.

Hopefully, they adjust their negotiating strategy this time around.

"I could be better": CeeDee Lamb dismissive of personal best performance 1
Cowboys' WR CeeDee Lamb

WR CeeDee Lamb

Years left on contract: 1 (2 with 5th-year team option)
Average annual salary/NFL rank: $3.502 million/60th

Since being drafted 17th overall in the 2020 , CeeDee Lamb has been one of the most productive in football.

The Cowboys would be wise to extend these three players sooner than later
CeeDee Lamb stats; photo taken from

The uptick in stats each year points to Lamb being an ascending player and one of the brightest young stars on the Cowboys' roster.

Lamb's actual worth on the field was proven by his exceptional where he was finally out of Amari Cooper's shadow.

CeeDee hauled in 107 receptions for 1,359 yards and 9 touchdowns on his way to and 2nd-team All-Pro honors in just his third season.

One aspect of 88's production that most people tend to overlook is that he has accomplished all of this despite playing 16 of his 49 career games with a throwing him the ball.

CeeDee ranks 60th in the NFL in terms of average annual salary. For reference, here is a graphic showing the top 10.

The Cowboys would be wise to extend these three players sooner than later 1
Top 10 WR average annual salary; photo credit

Lamb's actual monetary worth is a discussion that should be had soon for the same reasons I gave for Dak Prescott.

That $30 million average won't be the highest for long with wide receivers like , , and all needing new contracts soon.

The Cowboys can lock up CeeDee Lamb with a new contract averaging roughly $24-26 million per season.

It should make him happy and would be a bargain for Dallas in the long run.

Terence Steele
Sep 27, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle (78) stands on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson- Sports

RT Terence Steele

Years left on contract: 1
Average annual salary/NFL rank: $4.304 million/16th

Terence Steele signed as an undrafted out of Texas Tech University in 2020.

He was then thrust into the spotlight as a rookie due to injuries along the Cowboys' offensive line.

Fast forward to 2023, and Steele has started 30 games over his first three seasons, mostly at .

An ACL shortened his 2022 season after 13 games.

The Cowboys decided to place a 2nd round-restricted free agent tender on Steele as opposed to offering a long-term contract.

Steele's recovery seems to be going well, as he has looked good in workouts with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather.

If Steele continues to make progress throughout the offseason, Dallas should offer him a long-term contract.

They might even get a discount if they offer him a deal before he is fully recovered from his knee injury.

Here are the top 10 right tackles in terms of average annual salary.

The Cowboys would be wise to extend these three players sooner than later 3
NFL RT top 10 average annual salary; photo taken from

Where the Cowboys believe Steele falls on this list is the key to his future.

They have made preparations through the draft to replace him.

Dallas spent a 5th-round pick on in 2022 and took Asim Richards in the 5th round of 2023.

However, Waletzko and Richards are both unproven assets.

Are the Joneses willing to gamble away the production they know they can get from Steele in exchange for unproven players?

I feel safer keeping Terence Steele around for a few more years, leaving the offensive line with continuity for at least the next few seasons.

Mario Herrera Jr.
Mario Herrera Jr.
Husband. Father of 3. Cowboys fan since 1991. Stat guy, although stats don't always tell the whole story. My job is a job, but writing about the Dallas Cowboys is my passion.

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