Quarterback contracts in the NFL are not based on who’s better or even necessarily what that player has earned. It’s a market position. A market position that fluctuates based on how much the salary cap goes up, as well as who just got paid. The Cowboys had their window to give Dak Prescott an extension at a fraction of what he’ll earn eventually. Now, it’s too late and it’s going to cost the team even more.
As of today, the going rate for a starting, franchise quarterback is in the range of $30-35 million per year, with Russell Wilson being the highest paid in the league. Prescott might not be worth that much, yet, but his price range is among the top of the pay scale.
There was a time when numbers like $25-29 million was a possible, realistic range that the Cowboy’s quarterback was likely going to get. Then, three important factors occurred:
- Russell Wilson reset the market
- Carson Wentz’s extension
- Jared Goff’s extension
Before these, only three players (Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, and Aaron Rodgers) were earning over $30 million per year, and each one had been on at least their third contact.
Russell Wilson is now the highest-paid quarterback, earning $35 million per year, while Carson Wentz and Jared Goff – draft mates of Dak Prescott – got extensions of $32 million and $33.5 million per year, respectively. Now when a young quarterback is ready to sign his first extension, it’s somewhere in the $30-35 million range. For now.
The Cowboys’ chance to sign Dak Prescott to what would now be considered a team-friendly deal has passed. The Cowboys already cost themselves money by not extending Prescott earlier when they had the chance. If they wait any longer, it’s going to cost them even more.
Players like Patrick Mahomes, Deshawn Watson, and Mitch Trubiski are all entering their third year and will likely be in talks for a contract extension too.
Also throw in free agents like Philip Rivers who could get another extension this offseason, and other young quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston who are both in contract years and have both been well outplayed by Dak Prescott. Any new contracts here would shoot the price up higher than it already is.
At present, the team doesn’t seem to be panicking to give Prescott his contract right away. They’ve put their focus on DeMarcus Lawrence in the off-season, Jaylon Smith and La’el Collins before the season started and, of course, the Ezekiel Elliott saga.
The Cowboys and Prescott seem to have an understanding that there’s no rush but waiting too long is only going to benefit Prescott.
The team has made it clear that he’s the face of the franchise and is the team’s quarterback of the present and future, and that’s going to end up being way more money in Dak’s pockets than anyone saw coming months ago, and way more money than they probably needed to pay him if this had been taken care of earlier. Now, we wait.