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What’s Next for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys?

The 18-month lengthy contract negotiations between the Dallas Cowboys and Quarterback Dak Prescott were officially put on hold Wednesday afternoon as the two sides were unable to reach a long-term contract before the 3 pm central time deadline. As the hours and minutes ticked by, the likelihood of a deal that would replace Prescott’s $31.4 million franchise tag seemed less and less likely.

Now, the two sides are forced to wait until after the 2020 season to begin negotiating Dak Prescott’s next contract.

Yay, we get another offseason of quarterback contract negotiations. 

For the third offseason in a row, the Dallas Cowboys will enter negotiations with their franchise quarterback in hopes of coming to a long-term agreement. The question is, will they get a better deal six months from now than they could have given on Wednesday, or will Dak Prescott have a season much like 2019 that will raise the price tag for his services. Given everything they’ve invested in helping Prescott be successful, I can’t imagine anything other than him having an MVP caliber season.

Pro Football Focus rated their offensive line the third-best in the NFL last week. Ezekiel Elliott is still one of the best running backs in football. The wide receiver group of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb is arguably the best trio in the NFL. And Blake Jarwin taking over for Jason Witten adds a more dynamic and field-stretching element to the receiving game from the tight end position. The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best group of skill players in the entire NFL.

They’ve been unwilling to budge off of their number of five years $145 million with more than $100 million guaranteed. However, it certainly seems like Prescott’s set up for the best season of his career it what will be his second contract year in a row.

And on the flip side, Dak Prescott’s representation was unwilling to compromise off of their number as well.

It takes two sides in a negotiation to make things happen. Of course, unless you’re Dwight Schrute buying Andy Bernard’s Nissan Xterra in The Office. In that scene, Dwight got precisely what he wanted from Andy without much of a negotiation.

Well, Stephen Jones and Todd France (Dak Prescott’s agent) are both a couple of the shrewdest negotiators in the world of the NFL. Stephen Jones hasn’t handed out a big-money contract that had options for the team in a long time. Even the Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper contracts the Cowboys signed over the last year have much of the guaranteed money frontloaded into the agreement to allow the team outs if the player experiences a decline in his play or health.

Heading into the 2020 season, the Dallas Cowboys are asking Dak Prescott to repeat his 2019 season. Much in the same way, they wanted Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence to repeat his breakout 2017 season in 2018 before paying him big money in the 2019 offseason.

It’s a risky proposition on both sides.

For Dak Prescott, if he goes out there and experiences a career-altering injury, he’ll likely pay for it with his next contract in 2021. Though I find it incredibly unlikely that he’ll have a down year, it’s certainly a possibility, and that will affect his bottom line as well.

On the Dallas Cowboys side of things, the price tag likely went up considerably for them. If Prescott plays well, which they hope he does, because that means the team plays well and they are a contender in 2020, then the Cowboys will have to come up from their reported $35 million a year. That’s just the nature of how contracts escalate year to year.

The next year is going to tell an important story for the future of this franchise. At some point, the Dallas Cowboys have to make the long-term commitment to Dak Prescott, or they have to move on. Nothing good would come out of letting him play on the franchise tag again in 2021. When Dak Prescott has another terrific year and finishes in the top five in QBR in 2020, the Cowboys will have a lot of explaining to do if they’re unable to get a deal done next offseason.

There comes the point in time where every franchise has to pay their guy. And if you listen to everything Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Will McClay, Mike McCarthy, and Kellen Moore have to say about Dak Prescott, you’ll know that he’s their guy. Eventually, they’ll need to treat him like it and give him the contract that he’s earned.

Until then, the next thing we’ll need to watch for is if training camp and the NFL’s regular season does start on time. Here’s hoping that won’t lead to a major let down as well.

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. Stephen Jones is not a shrewd negotiator. He’s Jethro Bodine . Just because his daddy has money doesn’t qualify him for anything. The fact he didn’t negotiate until the last minute is idiotic. Todd France is also selling Dak down the river. No way Dak will ever recoup the money he lost from last year at least 29 million and this year 4 million no matter what happens. If Dak wins the Super Bowl maybe but otherwise he won’t.
    Best bet now is to trade him after this year and start over with a rookie 5 year deal with no albatross of a Romo contract (another idiot deal by Jones) hanging over their heads.

  2. If the news is true about the big difference in the negotiations was the 1 year difference, then consider the Cowboys the winner here. Dak is locked in for 2020. Next year they give him his 4 years. Bingo … you have your 5 year deal!

    Plus you get another year to see Dak and how he works in the McCarthy system. Even if you have to pay him more per-year next year than you would have today, you have a much better feel for the immediate financial climate a year following the pandemic.

    If Dak fails to impress this staff, then at the very least you sign Dalton to a far-cheaper 2 year extension while you search for or groom the next in line. Dalton can win with talent around him, and I believe he can win in the playoffs with a coach not named Marvin Lewis.

    Dak will have leverage next year, but he’s risked a lot by not signing. No immediate $50 million signing bonus that could actually be sitting in his bank account when he awakens this morning. No guaranteed $80-$100 million in the next 3-4 years. Despite all the promise this team has, it’s all based on the fact that players won’t opt-out of playing (which could greatly impact team’s projections and win-loss records this year!), or the 2020 year is cancelled, etc. And yet he could still tear an ACL just working out on his own during the shut-down or off-season. He may have even hurt his sponsorship capabilities?

  3. So if the cowboys are able to resign him next yr to a 4 yr contract (far far from a guarantee) they end up getting him for 5 yrs anyway (including this yr) but end up paying him ALOT ALOT more money to sign (which will hurt the construction of our team) If they don’t resign him and franchise tag him again at nearly 38 MILLION he will basically be a free agent after next yr cuz no way they franchise tag him in 2022 for 54 MILLION. And more then likely his price tag goes up and up. So we could approach this as a 2 yr contract with plans to move on from him after that. If Dak sucks this yr or has a career ending injury that’s a no win for everybody. In the mean time we have this cloud/distraction hovering over the team for the next couple yrs. None of these scenarios are a win for the cowboys in the least bit. If our only fall back plan is signing ( no guarantee we can sign him either) a then 33-34 yr old Dalton who is past his prime then I guess we’ll roll with that possibility. Any scenario besides signing Dak was/is full of unpleasant variables and unknowns. We have our franchise QB in house already! Is he great no but he’s very good and he’s much better any other option presented . This franchise could be set back for a long time if we don’t resign him. People are quick to criticize Dak but make no mistake finding a quality QB is very very difficult and if we move on from Dak we’ll find out just how hard it is. Just my opinion.

  4. Ur right Bill it’s amazing that a team can have minimal success for this long but stay so relevant.
    Say what u want about him but I attribute that to our modern day PT BARNUM Jerry Jones . He has created and perpetuated a certain mystique around the cowboys that just seems to draw even non football fans and non Texans in..

  5. Lets try to get at least ONE THING straight here.

    The Cowboys tried to “PAY THE MAN”. They were willing to pay him as the second highest paid QB. Second only to Mahomes. Even when his performance ON THE FIELD DOES NOT MATCH the very generous offer. They are bending over backwards now, and most sane people would say HE IS BEING UNREASONABLE. I say enough already with this guy, as he is a definite problem with the cap and maybe PRIVATELY with team mates. Also who know if he will play as hard now, to not risk injury looking for that huge payday later.

    As I have stated many times before here, they should have unloaded him somehow BEFORE it got to this point. The more this drags out the more I don’t agree with this great guy, great leader BS, because apparently he is all about THE MONEY. F the team, I come first.

  6. The sticking point was obviously the 5th yr he wanted. He is within his right to secure that for himself and his future whether u agree with it or not. To disparage him by implying that he is maybe “privately” a problem with teammates and might not play hard holds no water and weakens ur argument. By all accounts he is a tremendous leader and moving forward would represent the cowboys with class and professionalism. (unlike other players who Jerry has recently signed) Is he being greedy? probably so and personally I think what he was offered was fair, but who am i to say. I can’t understand why so many people are so quick to dismiss Dak. He is only 26 yrs old and still has time to grow and improve (many QBs peak in their late 20s). U wanna discard him with a 4 yr body of work. I ask u if Dak isn’t our QB moving forward then who should be? Please don’t tell me Dalton! 5 yrs ago maybe he might have been an option but not today. There’s a reason why QBs go #1 in the draft every yr u have to have a good one or ur screwed. Look at the good/playoffs teams in the league and they all have a very good or elite QBs

    • Gary, I think I get where he is coming from, but I learned a long time ago that you can “love” the game but to get emotionally involved with it in any other way will likely only end in disappointment. My grandfather wouldn’t recognize this NFL. VAM appears to me to be emotionally distraught over this issue and I’m immune to that vitrol now.

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