Football fans have been glued to what’s going on in Dallas during NFL free agency. Many big questions surround the fates of Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, and, of course, Dak Prescott. With Cooper re-upping, White Miami-bound, and Quinn leaving for Chicago, there’s one last proverbial elephant in the room: Prescott.
Somewhat controversially but widely expected, the Cowboys assigned Prescott the exclusive franchise tag just ahead of the deadline. However, contract terms seem far from being ironed out, and it’s unclear who or what the issue might be.
Dak Prescott’s ongoing contract negotiations
When former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Rex Ryan’s twin brother, received the question, “Does [Prescott] deserve to be the highest-paid QB in the league?” Rob responded without hesitation, “Absolutely. He does.” It seems he is all-in on the 26-year-old signal-caller, saying he believes Prescott has the leadership and durability to guide Dallas in a “new direction.”
Prescott threw 30 TDs and finished last season at No. 2 in the NFL for passing yards with 4,902. The 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year’s stats are improving noticeably across the board , with a significant year-over-year increase in completion percentage and three fewer interceptions.
With some of Prescott’s top targets already secured for the 2020-21 season and some promising additions, most notably tight end Blake Jarwin, Ryan might be on to something. Not everyone thinks Prescott should get one of the NFL’s largest paychecks, though. Some critics, like Skip Bayless — a huge Prescott fan — are quick to point out the Cowboys’ 8-8 record last year.
Money isn’t the only thing that talks
Rumors have circulated that Prescott’s contract negotiations aren’t stalled due to money but rather due to term, and evidence supports this. The Cowboys officially made Prescott the executive franchise player at the 11th hour, ensuring he’ll remain in Dallas for at least one more season and can’t negotiate with other teams.
Shortly before the franchise tag became official, Prescott reportedly turned down a deal that included a $33 million per-season salary and $105 million in guaranteed money, reports CBS Sports. This contract would’ve made him one of the highest-paid NFL players in history, topping even Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff’s famed contracts.
Interestingly, last-minute restructuring to Ben Rothlisberger’s and Kirk Cousins’ contracts may have cost Prescott as much as $3 million. Or, depending on how you look at it, saved Dallas $3 million.
To play or not to play, that is… not the question
The biggest question at this point is who or what is causing the impasse. If the rumors are true, Dallas offered up a more-than-impressive contract, so it raises the question of whether Prescott is being difficult or making unrealistic demands. On the other hand, the argument can be made that if the Cowboys are so certain of Prescott as their long-term QB, why aren’t they budging?
Whichever you suspect, the reality is that star NFL quarterbacks get record-setting contracts more often. Dallas understandably wants to secure Prescott for as long as possible. Likewise, it makes perfect sense that the QB wants a contract with the highest possible valuation for a shorter amount of time, especially with changes to the collective bargaining agreement.
We know Prescott will be a Cowboy next season, but under what terms? And what about beyond 2021? With heated negotiations continuing, hopefully fans won’t have to wait much longer for the answer.
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