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Franchise Tag Deadline Approaching for Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott

The next major milestone in the seemingly never-ending saga between the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott and his representatives comes in just two days. The deadline for NFL teams to use their lone franchise tag is March 9th.

It’s expected that the Dallas Cowboys front office will exercise their option to tag their franchise quarterback. When that happens two things occur.

First, the franchise tag number for Prescott who also received the franchise tag in 2020 takes up $37.7 million in cap space. That occurs whether signed by Prescott or not. Secondly, once tagged, the Cowboys and Dak Prescott have until July 15th to reach a long-term contract, or the franchise tag locks in for the 2021 season.

While that July 15th date is the hard deadline for the franchise tag, the Dallas Cowboys and other NFL teams have a soft deadline of March 17th that coincides with the start of free agency. Though teams can negotiate with outside free agents and even come to terms starting March 15th, they don’t have to have the allocated cap space until the NFL league year opens on March 17th.

The Cowboys have roughly $20 million in cap space heading into the 2021 offseason, which is decent starting place until you consider what the franchise tag would do to the cap. This is why it’s important for Prescott and his representatives and the Dallas Cowboys to find an agreement that works for both sides. The flexibility afforded in contract structuring is far better for the Cowboys salary cap situation than the franchise tag would be. Because the Cowboys and Prescott could agree on a structure that lowers his year one cap hit while placing larger cap hits in future years when the salary cap is expected to explode, that March 17th soft deadline becomes the most important day of the offseason for the Dallas Cowboys.

Carrying Prescott’s franchise tag number of $37.7 million into free agency will hinder much of their ability to add to the roster through free agency. Even with potential restructures if Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, and maybe even Zack Martin, the Cowboys would still be tight against the cap, making it difficult to explore upgrades or even depth signings.

In every negotiation, it takes motivation to get a deal done and takes two to tango. Here’s hoping the encouraging things we’ve been hearing over the last week means the two dance partners are in sync on coming to a resolution by March 17th.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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  1. Two days before the deadline. It looks like DP will be tagged again. Apparently these two sides are not coming to a LT deal. Something is amiss in Cowboy Land. It really is quite pathetic. This should have never come this far.

    My take has been CONSISTENT for two years now, DP and/or his agent are a greedy SOBs, (I put more on DP, he has the final say in the end, right). He was offered MULTIPLE GENEROUS OFFERS that he rejected every single time. PLUS add in all the MILLIONS in ENDORSEMENT MONEY for being a DALLAS COWBOY!

    Despite all these OTHERS proclaiming to “PAY THE MAN”, one cannot deny the FACT that is what the front office has been REPEATING trying to do.

    He has been a problem/distraction for two years now. I commented LAST YEAR to somehow trade this problem during the draft, and pick up a QB then. Now he wants top dollar for exactly what, his one playoff win in five years? You can’t pay an ABOVE AVERAGE QB, ELITE/”GREAT” money AND expect to be able to build a good team at the same time. AND DP IS NOT A “GREAT” QB, especially when looking at the money he is demanding.

    He is hurting the team. Take a side, the TEAM or one GREEDY player. And there are options, to the ones that say we are doomed without DP. Last resort, let him walk, get comp pick, and draft one of top five QBs.

    • By all accounts, everything is progressing and looking encouraging. It was always likely to end up with the tag to give the two sides more time to come to an agreement.

      Dak is a good to great quarterback. That’s why he’s going to get paid big-time money.

      This isn’t greed VAM, this is capitalism at work. Or you could argue it’s the greed of the owners to have a salary cap in place in the first place.

      Endorsements don’t figure into contract negotiations. You can’t count on those.

  2. I will be surprised if an affordable long term deal is signed by March 17th. Jerry and Dak’s agent have locked horns and neither wants to be perceived as the loser. Rather, they each want to emerge from this two year battle appearing to have imposed their will on the other. Not a good recipe for a deal. I feel absolutely certain no deal will be reached by March 9th and the franchise tag will be applied. Of the two franchise tags, I have been lobbying for the non-exclusive tag. It is just as good a place holder as the exclusive tag, but affords the FO some options. If March 17th comes and goes with Dak on the exclusive tag and no long term deal has been reached, then Dak is gone after 2021 with no compensation for the team. I say he’s gone because at that point Dak has ALL the leverage. He doesn’t even have to honor what was leaked about wanting a deal right behind Mahommes. He can “demand” a deal that surpasses Mahommes and we either have to pay up or watch him walk in a year.
    Sadly, it is looking like Dak is more concerned with money than being a Cowboy. The non-exclusive tag grants him freedom to sign a blockbuster deal elsewhere if that’s what he wants. We can take our two first round picks to parlay for draft position to acquire one of the top 3 draft QB’s. There is no perfect way out of this mess which has come about from stubbornness on both sides, you can only strive for the best of two imperfect outcomes. We can possibly get something in return for Dak this year. Next year we can’t.

    • Define affordable.

      This is just a part of the negotiation process. The Cowboys had very little incentive to budge from their position while having Dak Prescott play on the $31.4 million franchise tag in 2020, which would have been a discount relative to the AAV of a long-term deal signed last offseason. However, a $37.7 million tag number this year and $54 million tag number next year put a lot of the leverage in Prescott’s court. THe Cowboys can’t afford for him to play on the tag this year, and if they want to have any shot at adding depth in free agency, they need to get a long-term deal done by the 17th.

  3. And since everybody is a salary cap expert and knows how much it’ll go up every year , ala John Williams and others , here’s my prediction

    we’ll sign Dak , he’ll fall off just like Wentz and we gonna be screwed for the next 4-5 seasons

    • Dak has shown zero signs of regression throughout his career. In fact he’s gotten better as a passer every year.

      The reason we can project what’s going to happen with the cap is because we know what has happened. Aside from 2020, when attendance was down due to COVID-19, the NFL’s revenue has increased substantially every year for the last decade, thus increasing the salary cap by about $10 million each year for the last five years or so.

      The next TV broadcast deal is expected to see a huge jump in revenue for the NFL, which everyone is expecting will lead to an explosion in the salary cap in 2022 and beyond.

  4. And don’t forget the compromised ankle now. One big hit, and who knows. Big Cowboy, you’re right, it’s always been about the money. People say it was about the number of years, but DP himself even said he wanted a shorter term so he can CASH IN sooner. He really is one GREEDY SOB. F THE TEAM. And as long as he has the media that kisses his ass , he thinks he is irreplaceable. BS.

    • Wouldn’t you want to cash in when you could? If the revenue is expected to increase substantially with the next TV deal, wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that. It’s capitalism VAM. That’s how this works.

  5. Franchise tag him and trade him to anyone for good assets. Better get something now then nothing after this year.
    Either find a way to get Wilson or trade him to the Jets for Darnold, Williams and the number 2 pick.

  6. Throwupthex88- Hey I thought you were done with this site Lol. U said u were defecting to the Chiefs. Sure theirs plenty of room on that bandwagon bro.

  7. Got to go with non exclusive tag and hope a gullible team will forfeit two number 1 picks for Dak. Release him if needed. His demands are unreasonable.
    He has barely sniffed the playoffs which is the bottom line.
    Draft one of the 5 elite quarterbacks. Realize that Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are probably unobtainable.
    Trade up which may be needed and get Justin Fields or Trey Lance or Mac Jones.
    With the saved money then spend money on getting good free agent defensive players, especially cornerback. Rebuild your pathetic defense.
    Draft wisely.

    • Drafting a quarterback, you hope they’ll be as good as Dak or better when you could just pay Dak.

      Go back through the first-round draft picks at quarterback over the last 20 years and tell me these guys are a guarantee. The NFL Draft is a coin flip at best.

  8. To all the people saying that Dak and his team are greedy and that he’s going to wreck our cap are either ignorant, stupid, don’t understand how the cap works or all of the above. While the previous offers were “fair” or “generous” they were offered with NO YEARS REMAINING unlike Wentz, Goff and even Mahommes who had years remaining. If we sign Dak to a 40 mil a year contract in a few years it will be a bargain!!! Just like the people that scoffed at paying him 30 mil a year a few years ago would be begging him to take that offer now! Just because the Jones have made horrible contract decisions doesn’t mean Dak should take less.

  9. I am aware that the cowboys are not a smart organization when it comes to contracts, but for goodness sake can someone tell me why can’t they use the non exclusive tag on him to protect the team

  10. There is ZERO reason to tag Dak. Prescott is not even a top-7 QB (Dak only moved up after Brees retired). Once you tag him Dallas has absolutely no choice but to accept whatever Dak wants, and Dak wants far too much for his talent level. Let him go and draft a QB while re-signing Dalton as a stop-gap.

  11. How much money does Dak get on the endorsement side for being a Cowboy. If he gets traded later, do you think his endorsement income lowers?

  12. The Cowboys need to draft a quarterback in the upcoming draft!! If No Deal with Prescott by draft!! It would be wise to draft a quarterback.

  13. People need to stop hating on Dak. Trade Dak for what. It wasn’t the and play that has killed us for the last few years. Go back and look at when Tony was the qb, he didn’t do anything to warrant a big contract but he got one. Where did he take us no where. I can answer that NOWHERE. You people need to keep these bullshitting comments out of here. The only that has been consistently progressing in Dak. He wouldn’t even be the topic of most conversations if he wasn’t worth it. It’s been proven time and time again that he was the best qb in that whole 2016 draft. Dak is going to be the one who is going to lead us back to glory. I guarantee this. So please stop posting these dumb ass comments about Dak not being a good or great qb. It’s funny how some of these arm chair qbs can sit around and see so much stupid shit out of your mouths. Get out of your feelings and put away racial divide. It makes you look more stupid than you really are.

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