Yogi Berra once famously quipped, “It’s deja vu all over again.” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones may have that exact experience this year and, unfortunately for the Dallas Cowboys owner, pay a cool $37 million for the privilege.
During the 2020 NFL offseason, Jerry Jones ultimately failed to sign Dak Prescott to a long-term contract extension, instead offering the quarterback a one-year franchise tender. The Dallas Cowboys owner is now staring down the exact same situation, except at a higher price tag. The easiest way out, however, is pretty undesirable. Jones would have to step up and admit that he was wrong.
Jerry Jones is facing another contract standoff with Dak Prescott
Over the years, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has had no problem backing up the metaphorical Brinks truck and doing whatever it takes to sign a star player. Dealing with Dak Prescott, however, seems to be a different story.
When the 2019 NFL season ended, Prescott’s rookie contract expired along with it. Given that he had become the face of the Dallas Cowboys franchise, the quarterback expected a sizable raise; he and Jones, however, couldn’t agree on the length of the extension. In the end, Dak signed a franchise tender, essentially kicking the contract negotiations one year down the road.
Now, Jones and Prescott have to return to the negotiating table; beyond the calendar, though, nothing seems to have changed. The quarterback, as far as we can tell, wants to stay in Texas while also being paid what he feels he’s worth. Jones, based on his previous statements, wants to re-sign his quarterback without compromising on contract length.
At this point, things seem to be pretty identical to last season. Common sense would suggest that both parties have to work something out but, then again, they couldn’t in 2020.
A second Dak Prescott franchise tag could be a financial nightmare
In theory, Jerry Jones has another ‘get out of jail free’ card, should his negotiations with Dak Prescott fail: another franchise tag. This year, however, that decision could be pretty disastrous.
Last season, Prescott earned just over $31 million; if he’s franchise-tagged again this year, that salary would increase by 20%, becoming $37.68 million. While that number might not seem too unreasonable in isolation, it’s pretty significant given the state of the league.
As noted by Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, the 2021 salary cap could fall as low as $180 million. If that’s the case, Jerry Jones will be spending more than 20% of the cap on a single player who could, in theory, walk after the season.
That’s not exactly a great financial situation if you’re the guy writing the checks.
Jerry Jones can solve the problem if he simply admits his mistake
The easiest way for Jerry Jones to avoid that cap crunch is to ink Dak Prescott to a long-term contract, spreading his salary over multiple years. The issue, however, is that it would force the Dallas Cowboys owner to do something that no one ever wants to do: publicly admit they were wrong.
At this point, the issue of Jones thinking—and then trying to prove—that he’s the smartest man in the room is well documented; it’s an issue that’s dogged the Cowboys ever since Jimmy Johnson left town. In this case, however, it’s caused contract negotiations with a franchise player to stretch into a second offseason.
Last year, Jones did things his way, refused to blink, and signed Prescott to a one-year franchise tag. The quarterback played well until suffering a season-ending injury; then the Cowboys collapsed. Now, he’s facing the same situation. If his options are dishing out another, even pricier franchise tag, letting Dak leave Dallas, or biting the bullet on a long-term deal, the right choice seems pretty apparent.
If we know one thing about Jerry Jones, however, it’s that he always does things his own way. Unfortunately for Dallas Cowboys fans and Dak Prescott, that doesn’t always work out for the best.