The Kansas City Chiefs sent a financial shockwave through the NFL yesterday by signing Quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a mega deal; 10-year extension worth $450 million dollars. This major move in the QB market could have serious ramifications for the ongoing negotiation between the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott.
Mahomes was still under contract through 2021, having one year left on his original rookie deal plus the 5th-year option. Prescott's rookie deal was up after 2019 and he only remains bound to the Cowboys right now through the franchise tag.
Dak signed his franchise tender two weeks ago, a subtle way of announcing his intention to play in 2020 no matter what. But both sides want a long-term deal done and only have until the July 15th deadline to do it. Otherwise, Prescott plays on the one-year franchise deal this season and a new contract can't be signed until the 2021 offseason.
If reports are accurate, the main conflict between Dak and Dallas has been the number of years on the deal. Prescott wants a shorter term so he can reenter free agency at age 30 and get another lucrative deal. We saw what being just a little older did to Cam Newton (31) and Andy Dalton (32) as free agents this year.
But now Mahomes' deal reshapes the fiscal landscape for the quarterback position. It could bring money back into the conversation now, with a much higher ceiling being established than we had from Russell Wilson's contract ($35 million/year) as the previous benchmark.
However, Patrick is coming off a Super Bowl win and MVP performance. He's been a 1st-team All-Pro, season MVP, and Offensive Player of the Year.
How much can Dak Prescott's camp really point to Mahomes and make comparisons?
I am no Prescott doubter, but there's no denying he has way fewer skins on the wall at this point than Pat Mahomes. He doesn't even have as many as Russell Wilson, for that matter.
That's what Jerry and Stephen Jones will contend with if Dak starts pushing for more money now. They were willing to match Wilson's money given the natural inflation of contracts every year, even with the disparity in accomplishments. But the new figure set by Mahomes' deal will be much harder to stomach.
One way that Mahomes' contract could help push Prescott and the Cowboys toward an agreement is its creative use of incentives and conditions. Such a long-term deal has to account for a lot of variables in performance and other circumstances to be viable.
If the Cowboys are going to get more years on Dak's contract, they may have to employ some of these same tools; incentives and escalators that increase Prescott's compensation through individual and team accomplishments.
Not everything is skewing in Dak's favor here. As time has gone on and COVID-19 remains a huge uncertainty over the 2020 season, it's increased concern over how much football will be played and how much revenue the league will bring in.
Remember, the salary cap is based on those revenues. It's increased by about $10-$12 million every season for a while now, but that could all change if NFL business is severely hurt by the pandemic.
There is increasing incentive for Dak Prescott to get his money now, based on the 2020 cap, and not risk trying to negotiate during leaner times. And this contract by Pat Mahomes at least now puts a measuring stick out there on the other end of current deals; two endpoints where Dak and the Cowboys can hopefully find a happy median.
As we keep saying, “deadlines make deals.” Prescott and the Cowboys have until next Wednesday if they want to get one done in 2020, and now this Pat Mahomes contract helps further crystalize the QB market.
Hopefully, Dak will be making similar news in the very near future.