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.