Prior to the 2020-21 NFL season, Jerry Jones had the opportunity to sign quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term contract that would’ve kept him in Dallas for at least four more years.
That never happened.
Jones slapped the exclusive franchise tag on Prescott after contract negotiations fell apart. Soon after, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson signed historic deals worth over $40 million annually that immediately shifted the value of QBs to a meteoric level. Now, Jones is cornered into a spot in which he will end up overpaying his franchise quarterback or letting him walk after 2021. Either way, Jones made an unforgivable $40 million mistake with Prescott this offseason.
Jerry Jones couldn’t sign Dak Prescott to a long-term contract before the July deadline
After Prescott’s breakout season in 2019, Jones and the Cowboys were expected to reach a deal with their franchise QB before the July 15 deadline. After months of negotiations, though, the two sides couldn’t agree to a deal, and Jones was forced to place the exclusive franchise tag on Prescott for the 2020-21 season.
Under the franchise tag, Prescott will earn $30.4 million this year, which doesn’t seem like an issue for the Cowboys at first glance. Had Prescott signed a long-term deal before July, it surely would’ve been worth around the same amount.
But the decision to push off Prescott’s contract negotiations for one more year will cost Jones and the Cowboys.
Jones made a $40 million mistake by not signing Prescott to a long-term contract
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports recently spoke to numerous agents and executives around the NFL about Prescott’s contract situation, and they all agreed Jones made a huge mistake by not getting a deal done before this season.
“No matter how you slice it, Jerry made a $40 million mistake,” one agent told La Canfora. “Just do the math. It’s pretty simple. Prescott has them over a barrel.”
One GM La Canfora talked to said using another franchise tag on Prescott in 2021, which would be worth $38 million, would be devastating to the Cowboys.
“Based off everything I know of that situation, the Cowboys did themselves no favors,” he said. “Even when the cap goes up, $8 million a year is a big deal. That’s like costing yourself a couple of starters or top backups at less-expensive positions. If you think you’re competing for a Super Bowl, that’s a big deal.”
Prescott could command over $40 million next offseason
Before Mahomes and Watson signed their massive deals, the Cowboys had a chance to sign Prescott to a contract far less lucrative. Prescott could’ve been bought with a four- or five-year contract worth just over $30 million per year, but now his price has skyrocketed.
Prescott wants to be paid like a top quarterback in the league. While the Cowboys might not think he is yet, that won’t matter come 2021. The value of the QB position has changed drastically since July 15, and Jones missed his opportunity to lock Prescott into a team-friendly deal.
Prescott will become a $40 million quarterback in the NFL soon, but will it be with the Cowboys?