If deadlines make deals and certain soft deadlines are approaching, it stands to reason that the Dallas Cowboys will start making significant progress on deals for the free agents they hope to bring back in the next week or two.
They have stated their interest in bringing back Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Robert Quinn, and Randall Cobb. With likely just one tag available to them this offseason (the transition tag likely won't be available as a new collective bargaining agreement is imminent), the Cowboys have some work to do if they want to get some of these players locked up as the first of the two deadlines approaches on March 12th.
The NFL has also stated that if a new CBA hasn't been reached by March 12th, the NFL would play the 2020 season under the current CBA. That would allow them to have both the franchise and the transition tag available to them, however, the transition tag would evaporate as soon as a new collective bargaining agreement comes to fruition.
During the negotiations, believing a deal was imminent the NFL announced the deadline to utilize the franchise tag would be pushed back to March 12th from its original March 10th deadline. For the Cowboys specifically, that gives them a week to get their ducks in a row before they have to place the franchise tag on Quarterback Dak Prescott, which is their plan. Using the tag on Prescott means the Cowboys would run the risk of watching Robert Quinn, Amari Cooper, and Randall Cobb enter free agency, each coming off of seasons that could see them with a sizeable market in the free agency landscape.
If the tag is placed on Prescott, the Cowboys would have just under a week to work out deals with the players they want to bring back before they're able to explore their worth in free agency. That's why it's so important to have one of Prescott or Cooper finalized come March 12th. Knocking out one of the contracts for one of their offensive centerpieces before the franchise tag deadline gives them more flexibility as they work through negotiations in the final days of the pre-free agency period of the offseason.
One thing that has hindered some of the movement is that both sides are waiting to see if the latest collective bargaining agreement will receive enough votes from the general membership of the NFLPA to pass. A new collective bargaining agreement could mean a drastic increase to the salary cap, with some projecting it could increase as much as $40 million over the next two years.
NFL teams want to see what the projection is with a new CBA because it helps them plan their spending better. Players and agents want to see what the new salary cap is likely to become because they can continue to demand similar cuts of the salary cap pie, which would be more lucrative contracts for the league's most valuable players.
Allowing Amari Cooper and/or Robert Quinn to hit free agency could mean their departure in free agency as teams with ample salary cap space could money-whip them away from the Dallas Cowboys. That sets March 12th as a deadline to get some of these deals done if their plan is to use the franchise tag on Prescott to get more time come to a long-term agreement with their franchise quarterback.
There's a lot that's up in the air at this point, but with the March 12th deadline just a week away, expect some movement toward deals. Even if they're not finalized, getting to the negotiation table over the next week — before the tag deadline — and also before free agency opens on March 18th is paramount to the Cowboys roster-building goals. To accomplish the things the Dallas Cowboys want to accomplish this offseason, the time is coming for them to make a significant push to lock up two of Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Robert Quinn to provide them with the flexibility they need with their franchise tag.