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After months of speculation, rumors, and offers, Dak Prescott did not sign a long-term deal with the Dallas Cowboys. Now slated to play the 2020 season under the franchise tag, he will earn $31.4 million. That represents a massive raise for the former fourth-round pick. Yet, just because he didn’t get a long-term deal like Patrick Mahomes doesn’t mean Prescott lost.

In fact, he has a clear path to nearly double Mahomes’ earnings over the next three years. It all depends on just how long Jerry Jones wants to commit to keeping the two-time Pro Bowler a Cowboy. But if history repeats itself, Prescott can bank $123 million and make Mahomes’ deal look downright disastrous.

Dak Prescott will play the 2020 season on the franchise tag

Dating back to last season, all eyes in Dallas focused on whether Jerry Jones would lock up Dak Prescott to a long-term contract extension. It seemed as though every week a new rumor emerged about a possible deal. Throughout the entire offseason, big numbers got thrown around, but ultimately nothing substantial happened.

The Cowboys did not budge off their desire for a lengthier commitment from their star quarterback. Prescott stood his ground, and the two parties never agreed to specifics about guaranteed money, length of the deal, or average annual salary.

Once the 4 p.m. deadline passed on Wednesday, that officially put Prescott on the books for $31.4 million. He will play the 2020 season under the franchise tag, which sets him up for another interesting offseason. Of course, the Cowboys handled contract negotiations quite differently than the Kansas City Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes.

Patrick Mahomes isn’t breaking the bank until 2023

Unlike the Cowboys, the Chiefs showed zero hesitation in committing a substantial amount of money to their star quarterback. Then again, Mahomes has already taken home MVP honors and led his team to a Super Bowl title in his first two years as a starter.

As Prescott attempted to find a middle ground with the Cowboys, Mahomes certainly didn’t have to fight to get the deal he wanted. In the end, he signed a 10-year contract extension worth up to $503 million. He can earn $25 million in incentives on top of the base value of about $477 million.

On the surface, securing half-a-billion dollars should make Mahomes a happy man. But dig a little deeper and you realize that he signed a disastrous deal in terms of maximizing his value.

According to Spotrac, Mahomes will make just $10.8 million in cash in 2020. That number rises to just under $23 million in 2021 and just under $30 million in 2022. His three-year cash flow totals just $63 million—a ridiculously low number in comparison to far-lesser accomplished or talented quarterbacks.

Carson Wentz will make roughly $81 million over the first three years of the deal he signed last summer. Jared Goff has a three-year cash flow of $84.5 million after signing a four-year extension in September.

While Patrick Mahomes’ lengthy deal does offer security and much bigger paydays ahead, it ultimately will look silly if things unfold perfectly for Dak Prescott.

Prescott can make $123 million by avoiding Mahomes’ disastrous deal

Playing on the franchise tag carries tremendous risk as well as an immense reward. In the case of Dak Prescott, he will make $31.4 million in one year after totaling less than $3 million in career earnings in his first four years with the Cowboys. However, a serious injury could jeopardize his ability to cash in next offseason.

Assuming that his impressive durability streak continues—he’s never missed a game in his career—Prescott actually has a path to bank $123 million and make Mahomes’ deal look embarrassing.

If Prescott plays well in 2020, he and Jerry Jones will once again have to meet at the negotiating table. But let’s say the two sides can’t agree on a multi-year extension. The Cowboys can franchise tag Prescott again, which would lock him in to a salary of about $37.7 million due to CBA rules mandating a 20 percent raise on a second franchise tag.

In that scenario, Prescott’s two-year cash flow will total about $69 million. At that point, he would already take home more money in two years than Mahomes will in three. But the Cowboys QB can further embarrass his peer if Dallas goes all-in on the year-to-year route.

Should Jones use the franchise tag on Prescott for the third time, the Cowboys would have to pay their quarterback about $54 million in 2022. Granted, that’s a ridiculous one-year sum for any player, but if the Cowboys didn’t want to commit long-term to Prescott this year or next year, why would they suddenly strike a multi-year contract in 2022?

Nobody can predict the future. But if Dak Prescott plays under the franchise tag in each of the next three years, he can earn $123 million and make Patrick Mahomes’ lengthy deal look like a disaster.


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