The Dallas Cowboys have been dominating the news cycle for all the wrong reasons. The team’s two best players — Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott — want new multi-million dollar deals, but ownership has decided to play hardball. It’s not a smart move, but it’s the outcome the Philadelphia Eagles fully expected.
The Eagles took a more calculated and pre-emptive approach when assessing the contract situations in their own locker room. The team saw Carson Wentz as their franchise quarterback and pulled the trigger on a four-year, $128 million extension in June to make the quarterback the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future. In doing so, they put the pressure on Dallas to lock up Dak Prescott. Make no mistake, the Eagles knew that other shoe would drop — and drop hard.
“That played a part in getting Carson’s deal done early,” a league source told Yahoo Sports, via Charles Robinson. “It was a priority [for the franchise] anyway, but not knowing if Dallas would just completely cave in with Dak and do something stupid definitely entered into the conversation.”
Prescott reportedly turned down an insane amount of money — $30 million per year, according to NFL Network’s Jane Slater — because the Cowboys quarterback is seeking an even richer sum: $40 million per year. A deal of that magnitude would make Prescott the highest-paid player at his position, including an annual salary at 14.3% more than current No. 1 Russell Wilson.
To put that in contrast to Wentz’s deal: the Eagles quarterback will make an average annual salary of $26 million over the life of his contract. Wentz ranks seventh on the list of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL. Is Prescott that much better than Wentz? Not many people think so.
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Carson Wentz’s Contract Explained by Cap Guru
Jake Rosenberg serves as Vice President of Football Administration for the Eagles, better known as their salary cap guru. He’s the one who manipulates the numbers and smoothes contract negotiations. In June, Rosenberg jumped on a podcast with Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro and went behind the scenes on the process for getting Carson Wentz’s deal done. While there were some tense moments, it sure sounded like it was a team-friendly situation.
“We are building our team around this player that plays obviously the most single important position in all of sports,” Rosenberg said. “We had a commitment to getting this done. They trusted that we were trying to do something fair and understand what the circumstances are. We were all on the same page in that respect. When I say smooth, it wasn’t like everybody got everything they wanted.”
Rosenberg also discussed the importance of getting something done prior to the start of the 2020 season. If they had waited, they would be trying to negotiate during the final year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). That would have presented a whole new set of challenges and made it even harder to appease all sides on an agreeable long-term contract.
“It is the opposite of an uncapped year,” Rosenberg said. “It is a capped year with very specific rules that make it more difficult in the way we talk about these cap tricks and little ways we have of creating space and finagling things around. That will be much tougher in 2020.”
Ezekiel Elliott & the Dallas Cowboys Soap Opera
The biggest thorn in the Cowboys’ side may not be Dak Prescott. No, it may be their Pro Bowl running back. Ezekiel Elliott has been vacationing in Mexico while his teammates endure the rigors of training camp and meaningless preseason games. Elliott wants a new deal, one that makes him the highest-paid at his position. The Prescott situation was something the Cowboys had on their radar, but the Elliott mess seemingly came out of nowhere.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn’t appear to be backing down on his stance of not paying Elliott. He recently suggested that NFL teams don’t need an elite rusher to win the Super Bowl. He piggy-backed that comment up with saying that contract negotiations are “marathons.”
“You know that it’s a marathon,” he told Jon Machota of The Athletic Dallas. “It’s a long season. It’s a long career. It goes on all the time. You work on this 12 months a year.”
Elliott is looking for a contract extension that makes his salary competitive with the likes of the Rams’ Todd Gurley or the Cardinals’ David Johnson. He is set to earn just $3,853,137 in 2019, but this will bump up to just over $9 million in 2020 before becoming a free agent.