Picture this if you will… Dak Prescott strutting his stuff to the song “The Power” by Snap! like Jim Carrey in the movie Bruce Almighty. I honestly can't think of a more fitting image as it applies to contract negotiations between Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott as things currently stand.
The Dallas Cowboys are used to being in the drivers seat when negotiating long-term contracts, but the power dynamic has shifted in Dak Prescott's favor in this particular situation. The Cowboys have no one to blame but themselves. They tried to play hardball with Prescott and his representatives last year and now there's a possibility it could blow up in their face.
Don't think for a second Dak Prescott doesn't know his value to not only the Dallas Cowboys, but just about any other team around the league. He and his reps have seen firsthand the value of the QB position this year and if they had any doubts of Prescott's market value they probably don't any longer.
After seeing what the Los Angeles Rams gave up in a trade to acquire Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions, Dak Prescott's value is higher than it has ever been at any point in his career. That's saying something considering he's coming off of a serious season-ending ankle injury.
If the Rams were willing to give up two future first-round picks, a third-round pick this year, and Jared Goeff to land Stafford, what would a team be willing to pay Dak Prescott on the open market? The simple answer is a lot. Probably $40 million+ a season and that's terrible news for the Dallas Cowboys.
With Prescott holding just about all the power and not a lot of salary cap room to work with, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Signing him long-term is arguably the best solution for both parties concerned, however, it's not and shouldn't be the only option on the table. The Cowboys need a Plan B in place if things start to turn ugly.
Enter the non-exclusive franchise tag.
You may not be aware of it, but there's actually three different types of franchise tags…the exclusive, non-exclusive, and transition tag. In the Dallas Cowboys current situation with Dak Prescott only the exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tags makes sense.
- On the “exclusive” franchise tag players cannot negotiate with other teams. The players team holds all of the negotiating rights.
- On the “non-exclusive” franchise tag players can negotiate with other teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet with another team, the original team has the right to match the offer or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
To me, the exclusive franchise tag makes absolutely no sense for the Dallas Cowboys. That means Dak Prescott will once again be playing under a one-year deal for the second season in a row to the tune of $37.7 million. If that happens it's highly unlikely Prescott would even consider any kind of future in Dallas beyond the 2021 season, leaving Dallas looking for a new QB in 2022.
That brings us to the non-exclusive franchise tag, the most logical and plausible solution for the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion. If the long-term negotiation contract talks hit a snag or turn ugly, the Cowboys shouldn't hesitate using this franchise tag on Dak Prescott. It's a gamble that runs a chance of losing him, but at least offers some form of compensation if that indeed ends up happening.
On the non-exclusive franchise tag Prescott and his reps would be free to gauge his market value with other teams around the league. If offered a contract from someone else the Dallas Cowboys would then know his value as well and could choose to match said offer or accept the two first-round picks instead.
I know it's a gamble, however, the Cowboys inability to sign Dak to a long-term extension in the past indicates these two weren't as close on working things out as we have been led to believe. At least letting someone else set his market value gives them an idea of his worth and the two potential first-round picks could give them the ammunition to find their next starting QB if worst comes to worst.
I don't know about you, but if contract talks turn sour between the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott this offseason using the non-exclusive franchise tag makes too much sense not to happen. It's either that or let him walk without receiving any kind of compensation this year. Which route would you choose?