QB Dak Prescott’s Contract Dominates Cowboys 2021 Offseason

    Once again, the ' is about to be dominated by the contract status of starting Quarterback Dak Prescott. But with Prescott entering a second year without a long-term deal and now also a , the urgency and anxiety over this topic should be even higher in 2021 than previously.

    This is the first of our position breakdown series for 2021. Over the next two weeks we'll be going through the entire Cowboys roster to look at who's under contract, who isn't, and what the team's focus for offseason activities like free agency and the draft is likely to be.

    2021 Quarterback Contract Statuses

    U = Unrestricted, R = Restricted, E = Exclusive Rights

    Clearly, getting someone signed up to quarterback the team is THE primary goal for the 2021 offseason. Nobody wants to see the reins handed to any of DiNucci, Gilbert, or Rush if competing for a championship is your goal.

    Dak Prescott's contract will be the top story until it gets done and the foundation of Dallas' entire offseason strategy. With a second costing $37.7 million, the Cowboys are highly incentivized to reach a long-term agreement and bring that number down for 2021.

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    This would be true any season but especially with the expected to drop this year. Usually increasing by about $10 million every year, the 2021 cap is projected to decrease from $198 million to around $175-$185 million this year as the NFL accounts for revenue losses during the pandemic.

    A multiyear contract allows the Cowboys to do creative things to reduce the impact during this fiscally lean season. Just look at Pat Mahomes' megadeal; only a $24.8 cap hit in 2021 despite being the richest deal ever given to any NFL player.

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    Dallas won't have that same degree of flexibility as they likely won't sign Dak to a 10-year deal. The two sides were reportedly squabbling over just a four or five-year contract in 2020.

    Despite past issues in reaching an agreement with Prescott the Cowboys have maintained their expressed commitment to him as their quarterback of the future. There's no indication, at least by their public comments, that Dak's lower leg in 2020 or any other issues have affected Dallas' feelings about him going forward.

    The proof will be in the proverbial pudding. Dallas and Dak have likely already resumed negotiations and only time will tell how far the team is willing to go keep him here long term.

    But the top of the QB isn't the only agenda item for the Cowboys in 2021.

    Will Andy Dalton Lead the Dallas Cowboys Back to the Playoffs?
    Dallas Cowboys QB Andy Dalton

    After starting nine games for Dallas due to Prescott's leg injury, Andy Dalton is set to re-enter free agency and may have more appeal now than he did coming out of Cincinnati last year. While 33 years old, Dalton proved last year that he still be a productive passer when there's enough talent around him.

    Even with the Cowboys' in shambles in 2020 and the rarely helping, Andy went 4-5 as a starter and also helped Dallas secure victory after replacing Prescott in Week 5. The rest of the team had been solvent, it's reasonable to assume that the Dalton-led Cowboys would have won the East and been a tough out in the .

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    Dalton is hoping that other NFL teams saw this and, if they have a good infrastructure in place, would consider making him their starter in 2021. While he likely wouldn't be more than a 1-2 year option as they look for a true franchise QB, Andy could help a team be respectable during that search.

    Imagine if finally calls it quits after this Sunday's . A team like Tampa Bay, with a solid core of talent and no future franchise QB in the cupboard, could be the perfect temporary home for Dalton.

    That hope means Andy Dalton is unlikely to accept any immediate contract offer from the Cowboys before free agency opens in March. Dallas would only be trying to bring him back as a backup and insurance policy against Dak Prescott, and Dalton is probably looking for a greater opportunity.

    If Dalton does find work elsewhere then what does that mean for the backup QB job in Dallas?

    Ben DiNucci
    Dallas Cowboys QB Ben DiNucci

    We got to see one game each from Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert as starters during the injury-plagued . But while Gilbert was far more impressive in the near-upset over the , DiNucci shouldn't be dismissed just yet.

    As a 7th-round rookie in his first NFL action since leaving James Madison University, DiNucci's  struggles against the in Week 8 were not surprising. The Cowboys weren't even planning to start Andy Dalton a few weeks before this game, and suddenly the team was down to the 3rd-string QB as 2020 went fully off the rails.

    You don't take a small-school QB like DiNucci and expect him to walk into that kind of environment and thrive. You can hope for the future plot of a Disney movie all you like, but reasonable expectations are that it will take a player like Ben some time to develop.

    That means DiNucci, Gilbert, and the returning Cooper Rush should all be in open competition for the backup job should Dallas not bring back Andy Dalton or some other veteran. But given Dak's injury in 2020 I doubt the the Cowboys will be content to just let one of those three guys be the next man up at quarterback.

    Dallas would do well to allow the musical chairs of March and April to go by and see who, like Dalton last May, is still looking for work once the music stops. Maybe it's Dalton again, or perhaps another veteran like or Tyrod Taylor.

    The Cowboys are unlikely to spend a high or even mid-round draft pick at quarterback unless it's a perceived steal for value. But as we learned in 2016, a 4th-round pick could end up changing the future of your franchise.

    Will Dallas finally make that former 4th-rounder their official quarterback of the future? Dak Prescott will be the number-one free agent in all of football if he's not signed by March 17th. The clock is ticking for the Cowboys to avoid a prolonged negotiation and set the foundation for the rest of their offseason.

    ~ ~ ~

    Other Cowboys 2021 Position Previews

    RB | WR | TE | OT | G | C

    DE | DT | LB | CB | S

    (Click the position above to jump to article. Links will become active as articles are published.)

    Jess Haynie
    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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    Don Howard

    You have to question whether a championship is the goal after 25 years and counting and if any team is proud or would have been proud of winning the NFC East this year you have pretty low standards which seems to be the case for Dallas now as long as the team has a so called star or two for Jerry to get on TV or radio to flap his gums about all is good

    James Vargas

    Nice article. Only thing is Tom Brady is not going to retire this off season. I know this was only mentioned as an example. As far as DiNucci, what a useless draft pick Dallas made. He showed absolutely nothing in his only start. If signing Dalton as a backup, I would much rather have Gilbert as a third string QB over the others. Besides, he is a homegrown product out of Texas and SMU !
    Would love to have Deshaun Watson as the QB. Daydreaming is allowed !


    IMO, if Cowboys and DP can’t come to a long term agreement, do the non exclusive tag and try to unload him, and use extra picks to rebuild the D. Contrary to the “public comments”, it seems that either DP does not want to continue as Cowboy QB, OR, he is in fantasy land as to what his actually value is, OR, front office is not sold on him. Take your pick. Sign Dalton, backed by Gilbert, draft promising QB to groom until ready to take over.

    One thing we do know for certain, DP was offered multiple contract offers, and HE REJECTED every one.



    And you can’t dispute the amount of money he makes just because he’s a good (not great) Dallas Cowboys QB , it boggles my mind that he’s trying to get everything he can from Cowboys , it’s not like he HAS to have to get max of what he wants to get by , which brings me back to the agent theory where they’re the one’s empowering these QBs to get max of what they possibly can get so that the agents get more and pushes envelope to where agents overall will get more over time ,it’s not like we low balled Dak ,

    and to those who say blame it on Jerry , though i agree that a lot of this is Jerry’s fault , I can’t help but wonder , when did Dak get in this mood to want max of what he can get , was it when he signed with France or earlier ? And as sighted by VAM , if Dak was wanting to be the cowboys QB i believe we’d have gotten a deal done LONG AGO , if it isn’t that than it’s that the front office is not sold on him , and if that’s the case then why should we sign him to what he’s wanting ?

    It doesn’t make sense to sign a guy that you’re not sure about for as HIGH as he’s wanting and PRAYING he’ll live up to his contract even at QB , look where that’s gotten us with Zeke, D-Law, and J Smith.

    THE BOTTOM LINE I don’t see us winning a Super Bowl with Dak , we’ll be good or decent just like how Cousins and Vikings were , but not a Super Bowl winner which is why I’m ready to move on instead of ppl figuring out what I figured out 4 years earlier


    you can’t dispute the amount of money he makes off endorsements (50 mill) is what i meant to say


    Trade Dak ASAP!
    Draft a quarterback in this quarterback heavy draft to a team friendly rookie contract.
    Get draft capital for Dak and trade up if needed.
    Then with the saved money go out and pay the best free agent cornerback available.
    Dak is not near worth what he’s apparently demanding.
    He has barely sniffed the playoffs and that’s the bottom line.
    Cowboys need more than a quarterback.
    Trading Dak now is the only solution!


    TUTX88, Ex NFL QB Carson Palmer just said he thought DP could take a little less money in his contract, and yet make just as much money as the top QBs, because of all the endorsement money afforded him by being a DALLAS COWBOY QB. Others have commented on this some time ago.

    So here you have a player that can make same money as superior players who have accomplished much better results, but still won’t sign a contract.

    Palmer also brought up how DC players get great gigs after they retire, Romo, Aikman, Irvin, D Johnston, etc.

    Mr. Football

    After its all said and done. The Cowboys will sign Dak long term. Take it to the bank.


    Why does DP thinks he deserves all this $$ and he’s not a top 10 QB he dont care about winning he only Cares about Dak !!Ship his ass out!!!

    Gary b

    Looking at the QBs in the playoffs every year is all the proof u need as to the importance of a having a really good one. That’s not even disputable. The best teams have the best QBs and the worst teams have worst ones. Period! Please don’t offer the narrative that Andy Dalton is capable of leading this team and making us a contender. Absolutely no one actually believes that. Can we put that one to bed?

    Now- Look u can argue and complain all day that Dak is doing the same thing every player does and is trying to get all the money he can on their 1st contract, and by the way those same players were getting big endorsement money as well. Players just don’t give discounts on the 1st contract. It doesn’t happen. So if Dak is selfish so is every other player in history. Players might give discounts on contacts later, but not the 1st one. So Dak should be held to a different standard then every other NFL player in history?

    But if you move on from Dak please don’t tell me Andy Dalton or some other slug is the answer. We know better. The only premise that u can offer is “well we’ll just draft another QB and develop them” Oh really? Well that’s a BIG roll of the dice as we know. Look does anyone think Jerry will draft a QB with our #10 pick? No me either. Our #44 pick? I think the strategy in the draft will be to address this historically bad defense. So if we’re going defense in the draft exactly when will we get this elusive franchise QB that has to be better than Dak?

    I just don’t think the chances are good that another team will give Dak that huge contract AND give us two 1st rd picks. Again guys it’s not what we think should happen or what we would like to see happen. It’s what is likely to happen. All that matters is what Jerry wants and I think Jerry wants Dak.

    VAM/Throwupthex88- I totally get where ur coming from and ur argument is strong/valid, and I agree with alot of it. I wish and still hope that Dak will take less but that seems unlikely at this point. For better or worse I think Dak will be our QB next year.

    PS- if a team would sign Dak AND give us two 1st rounders the first one being a top five I would jump all over that.


    Hey Gary b, I agree that drafting a rookie QB is a bit of a crap shoot. However, more recently, we have seen these rookies being able to come right in and start and play well. Years ago, typical they needed some seasoning first. Little different now with the likes of Burrow, Herbert, Tag, etc.

    I would jump all over those two 1st rounders also.



    Jared Goff for the Rams (Traded) , Taylor Heinicke/Alex Smith for WFT , Baker Mayfield for Browns , Phillip Rivers for Indy (Retired), Drew Brees for NO (should Retire) , Big Ben (should Retire but won’t) , Mitch Trubisky (Free agent) , I JUST NAMED OFF HALF THE PLAYOFF TEAMS , would you say these QBs are great rn , not used to be great ? HELL NO , so don’t tell me we can’t win with AD , cuz he just as good as these OLD QBs or as good as these other QBs PERIOD ,

    This year taught me that A DECENT QB CAN MAKE THE PLAYOFFS WITH A TEAM PUT AROUND HIM , now i will say to win it all like a Super Bowl , yes you need a great QB , you also need a good team put around him and at this point IMO Cowboys have NEITHER , SO WHY AM I PAYING DAK WHAT HE WANTS ? I can get the EXACT results with a not as good QB with a team put around him as i can get from Dak, the true question IS DAK A QB WHO CAN WIN A SUPER BOWL ? And from what i saw from the last 2 seasons , NO HE CAN’T , he can’t carry a team on his back like a D Watson or other ELITE QBs , so why am i paying Dak ? It;s STUPID TO PAY DAK WHEN I CAN GET THE SAME RESULTS WITH A MUCH CHEAPER QB , you ppl can go ahead and pay Dak , but we ain’t winning S*** with him as far as Super Bowl

    And as far as would the Cowboys make the move to get rid of Dak , here’s a piece of an Article written by Mike Silver on the aggressiveness of the Bucs and going all in with Tom Brady , with the insights of GMs from around the league as well

    “You always use the history, or the current events, as reference points to try to mimic or emulate teams that have success,” Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay said in a phone interview last Thursday as he vacationed in the Cabo San Lucas area of Mexico. “I have so much respect for what Jason and Bruce have done. Looking at the way it played out, you can have a lot of admiration for them having the stones to take that leap.

    “You can’t help but be impressed by the leadership and productive play Tom has provided. When there are examples of it working, that gives teams more of an inclination to shoot their shot. It makes you have a mindset of, to quote Bruce Arians, ‘No risk it, no biscuit.’ ”

    Two days after that interview, McVay agreed to trade starting quarterback Jared Goff — a player who 17 months earlier had signed a four-year, $134-million contract extension in the wake of a stellar 2018 season and Super Bowl LIII appearance — to the Detroit Lions for 12-year veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, sweetening the deal with two first-round draft picks and a third-round selection. That haul of picks reflected the Lions’ willingness to absorb Goff’s contract, mitigating the Rams’ salary-cap hit and facilitating a switch to a signal-caller whom McVay clearly views as an upgrade.

    And though the move can’t become official until March 17 (the start of the 2021 league year), shoot your shot season has clearly commenced, and we’re just getting warmed up.

    With Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson having asked the team to trade him, several other established quarterbacks potentially on the market, an intriguing crop of draft-eligible passers and a potential spillover effect that could free up previously entrenched starters if their current teams land more enticing alternatives, a flurry of activity at the sport’s pivotal position looms like never before.

    “It’s started out that way, right?” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said, referencing the Stafford/Goff deal. “There’s a lot less patience than there used to be, so I think we’ll see more people moving around.”

    One person watching closely is Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy, whose team is actively seeking a replacement for Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

    “With all these quarterbacks out there, and all those young guys who’ll be in this draft, it’s gonna be a fascinating offseason as far as the quarterback position,” Nagy said. “And once one goes, it’s gonna be like a domino effect.”

    Depending upon which teams land some of the bigger names, established starters such as Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco), Derek Carr (Las Vegas) and another former league MVP, Matt Ryan (Atlanta), could hit the market. So might recently drafted players like Sam Darnold (New York Jets), the third overall pick in 2018, or Tua Tagovailoa (Miami), who went fifth overall last year. Current starters Teddy Bridgewater (Carolina), Drew Lock (Denver) and Alex Smith (Washington) could also end up elsewhere.

    Others whose futures are worth pondering include Winston (a Saints backup in 2020 and potential successor to Brees, who is believed to be retiring), Minnesota Vikings starter Kirk Cousins (a potential 49ers trade target) and Dallas Cowboys starter DAK PRESCOTT, who received the franchise tag last offseason and suffered a season-ending ankle injury in October. Prescott could theoretically be tagged again, but if he and the Cowboys can’t agree on a long-term deal, things could get interesting.

    Oh, and five quarterbacks — beginning with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, whom the Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to select with the first overall pick — are being talked up as potential first-round selections in this April’s draft. That list includes Justin Fields (Ohio State), Zach Wilson (BYU), Trey Lance (North Dakota State) and Mac Jones (Alabama).

    Granted, some of these quarterbacks aren’t regarded as being even close to Brady’s caliber. Yet in the wake of the Bucs’ big gamble — and Licht’s accompanying aggressiveness in acquiring established veteran weapons (running backs Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy, wide receiver Antonio Brown and tight end Rob Gronkowski) — there are likely to be more teams looking for a similar payoff by shaking it up at the most important position.

    “Teams are seeing quarterbacks increasingly as commodities, like any other position, rather than as sacred cows,” said a general manager of a 2020 playoff team, who preferred to remain anonymous. “Think about Goff’s situation. When have we ever seen in history someone like Goff, who took them to the Super Bowl and just signed a huge deal, and they are willing to get rid of him? Think about how long [Joe] Flacco struggled in Baltimore after winning the Super Bowl and signing that deal, but the Ravens stuck with him.

    “I actually thought a year ago, ‘Wow, what a pretty cool offseason. You never see this type of quarterback movement. We probably won’t see it again for another seven, eight, nine or 10 years.’ And now it looks like we’re gonna see even more this offseason, and probably a better quality of quarterback crop. And if Deshaun Watson’s on the trade block, or Aaron … man, look out.”

    Complicating the equation is an expected drop in the salary cap, thanks to the loss of revenues from COVID-19. Yet even with that challenge, any franchise that isn’t clearly in rebuilding mode, or which isn’t historically ultra-conservative, will likely be at least tempted to consider making a dramatic move.

    “Anything we can think of, we’re gonna look into it,” Nagy said of the Bears, who suffered a first-round playoff defeat to the Saints after a season in which both Trubisky (who later regained his job) and veteran Nick Foles were benched. “We feel like we’re really close.”

    Big Cowboy

    VAM you are right on suggesting the non-exclusive tag be used if they can’t come to a long term agreement. I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance they reach long term agreement because I really think Jerry and that agent hate one another.

    Of your three either/or topics I think Dak DOES want to continue as Cowboy QB, he IS in fantasy land as to what his actual value is, and the front office IS sold on him, they just won’t wreck the team by paying record setting $$$ with so many other needs.

    And yes, last year Dak and the agent turned down almost $35M/yr, $110M guaranteed, $50M signing bonus. That was ridiculous and mercenary on Dak’s part. I mean come on, at some point Dak has to speak up and tell that agent enough is enough. But it was at the beginning of the 2019 season that Dak and especially that agent burnt their bridge with Jerry. Jerry announced that a verbal agreement had been reached. Then the Cowboys started the season 3-0 (against 3 bad teams) and the agent crawfished on the deal and wanted more. Jerry went ballistic and probably still is regarding the agent.

    Non-exclusive tag him and let Dak decide if he wants every last penny from another team on a contract, wants to get fewer commercials and endorsements, and possibly start paying state income tax, OR if he wants to take a very generous offer from Jerry and remain a Cowboy.


    The Cowboys need to have the same mindset as the Bears , Rams and other teams around the league , if you don’t then you’ll be left in the dust just like the Ravens were with Flacco


    If you want to see Mike Silver’s full article , you can put this in

    or you can put in Mike Silver Tom Brady in search and it should pop up on top stories


    If you’re a QB who’s great but can’t get to a super bowl or if you’re in OK QB who makes the playoffs quite a bit , you’re the same to me ,

    so i’ll take the OK QB over the great who can’t get you to Super Bowl

    Gary b

    I’ll keep my post to 5000 words or less. Lol No knowledgeable fan(which I know u are) deep down really thinks we can be a contender with an Andy Dalton type. If you have an “okay “ QB u better have a great team around them, and the cowboys are light years away from having a great team. Incidentally those teams were in the playoffs because their good teams. This is a QBs league. Mahomes and the GOAT are in the SB.

    Any other talk is much ado about nothing. All that matters is that Jerry seems determined to resign Dak. Why work urself into a lather about it bro.

    The difference between those teams and QBs u cited and the cowboys is that in all those situations either the player or team wanted to part ways. Neither the cowboys or Dak have even hinted they wanna part. They just haven’t agreed on a contract yet. It’s just a matter of time.


    That first post was A LOT XD

    #1 I agree we ain’t winning a Super Bowl with AD 100% but are we so sure Dak will with less players than what we could put around AD ? NO he hasn’t , you have to put a really good team around Dak and even then i’m not sure , so is he worth 30-35 mill more than AD ? IMO no , what about a Rookie ? Well even if said Rookie was not good such as Baker Mayfield , you can put a good team around him , the first 2-3 years Browns were no good , then they piled on draft picks , top free agents, and keeping their best players (unlike us who let Byron Jones go to Miami) , eventually they’ve turned into a great team , so even if we get a bust like Baker , is that enough to deter me from doing that and going and paying Dak 35-40 mill more than Rookie QB ? IMO no

    #2 some BS is going on here behind closed doors , if Jerry is sold on Dak , then why for an guy who’s KNOWN to overpay their players not willing to do the same with Dak who’s at the most important position in all of the NFL ? Something is going on and it’s not that Jerry all of a sudden got smart and realized players true contract values , and as much as I like Dak , at this point I don’t want a part of him , something isn’t right or else a deal would be made , if it was simply cuz of a year difference in contract the reason why they couldn’t get a contract , they’d get the deal done anyways , THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY THAT NONE OF US KNOW

    Gary b

    I’m 100% sure we can’t be a contender with an Andy Dalton type QB. As far as Dak who knows, I’m certainly more hopeful and optimistic about that. But you absolutely have to have either a top ten QB and Dak is that if not slightly better, or a tremendous team around an average QB. The cowboys already have the good QB, but again we are light years away from having the tremendous team.

    Which path seems more likely? Somehow finding that elusive franchise QB that half the league is looking for every year and relying on the inept Jerry to rebuild this team or building around Dak, who showed he could carry this offense and put alot of points on the board, despite playing with a hobbled OL, an ineffective running game and a defense that never gave him short fields or turnovers.

    As far as the contract situation. I chalk it up to the cluelessness of Jerry as a GM. He overpays for underachievers like Smith and Zeke and then turns around and fails several times to sign Dak who is the most important player on the team. Had many opportunities to sign him and failed. Meanwhile the QB market rate goes up and up. Again its not Daks responsibility to manage the cap. If we had a competent GM we could have easily signed Dak and would have done it much sooner. You should save ur anger for Jerry. As long as he’s our GM we won’t sniff the SB again.

    Big Cowboy

    We have been close to a contract twice. The first time Dak and the agent backed out on a verbal agreement with Jerry. Then last year they out and out refused an offer that I think the entire civilized world thought was fair for both sides. I put the blame on Dak and that agent.

    Mr. Football

    Everyone take a chill pill, Dak will be signed long term. Jerry is the Barnum Bailey of the NFL. The Cowboys are the consistent media machine rather reality or manufactured. As, long as the World Cowboys are front and center regardless of the product on the playing field. The Brinks tucks find their way to the Star. It, started with Tex Schramn, back in the day. Jerry Poppins expanded on what Schramn started making the Cowboys a billion dollar corporation that happens to be a NFL Franchise, that draws Benjamin’s like stink to flies, regardless of the product on the playing field. Mediocrity sells.

    gary b

    Mr.Football- You got that right!

    Big Cowboy- As much as people would like to point to Dak as the villian, Jerry is the common denominator behind 25 yrs of futility and counting. He wouldn’t have sniffed a SB had he not had the foresight to hire the great Jimmy Johnson. who orchestrated the H. Walker blockbuster. drafted the right players and coached them to greatness.

    As far as the contract goes- Dak could have been had for much cheaper two years ago but Jerry wasn’t sold on him and couldn’t pull the trigger. Last year he refused to give Dak a 4 year contract,which by the way is pretty standard. Those are the facts. It took him too long to decide Dak was his guy, and by the time he did The QB market exploded and Dak now has all the leverage. He signs guys he shouldn’t and fails to sign the one guy he should.

    gary b

    Incidentally Carson Palmer who never achieved squat in his career is top ten in money earned in NFL history. Does that sound like someone who gave many home town discounts? Dak ALREADY has more playoff wins then he did in his 15 year career.

    When Troy/Emmitt/JimmyJohnson (who all emphatically say we should sign Dak) speak I listen. Carson Palmer not so much.


    The bottom line is this. Jerry Jones doesn’t want to pay Dak. He did not hesitate to pay Homo Romo so what’s the issue with Dak, who is clearly better than Romo was in his 5th year in the league.