It’s Negotiating 101 — one side starts low, the other counters high, and both meet somewhere in the middle.
The Dallas Cowboys certainly stuck to the script in discussions involving franchise quarterback Dak Prescott, with whom they’ve been negotiating a long-term contract. And the absence of a deal can be traced back to Dallas’ original offer, which is to say was not well received by the two-time Pro Bowl passer’s camp.
Yahoo Sports NFL insider Charles Robinson recently revealed the Cowboys initially floated a $25 million-per-year proposal, lowballing agent Todd France at the onset of talks. This, it appears, was the impetus for the ballyhooed $40 million annual demand that Prescott made, almost in retaliation for his perceived slight.
“Early on in the process what I was told was the reason why there was really some difficulty early in the process was just that Dallas came in low,” Robinson said on the Boys and Girl Podcast, via SB Nation’s RJ Ochoa. “I was told flat out Dallas’ first offer on the table was like $25M. Now this was a while ago. But it was low enough at $25M that Todd France, what I was told … I mean he was upset, and he countered with just an astronomical per year figure. Not because that’s what he actually wanted, but he was kind of flipping the bird to the Cowboys. Saying like, ‘Look, we’re not doing this. We’re not starting in the 20s. You can get off that right now.'”
The league’s richest quarterback, in terms of annual salary, is Seattle’s Russell Wilson, who’s pulling in $35 million per year. It was always a pipe dream that Prescott would become the first player in the sport’s history to reach the $40 million mark despite the early success in his still-young career.
Dak is likelier to land in the Jared Goff range. That is, $33.5 million annually — $84 million within the first three years — and more than $100 million in total guarantees.
Either way, Prescott obviously will dwarf the $2.025 million in salary for 2019, the final year of his rookie deal, during which he’s been methodically patient, eschewing several attempts from Dallas to touch pen to paper.
Betting on himself, in other words.
“Dak is looking at the bigger picture,” owner Jerry Jones remarked in September. “I think he made the phrase that this is a generational decision. It is that for him and his family. Everybody he loves or is gonna love is gonna benefit (from it).”
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Cowboys To Lose Two Stars in NFL Free Agency?
Despite more than $74 million in projected 2020 salary cap space, the Cowboys are at risk of their biggest talents landing elsewhere. CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported Sunday on the “increasing odds” that Dallas loses wide receiver Amari Cooper and cornerback Byron Jones in free agency.
The team supposedly has made “no progress” in extension talks for both players, as well as Prescott, also an impending unrestricted free agent.
Of the trio, Prescott appears to have the best odds of sticking around. Per La Canfora, “retaining Prescott remains the primary objective of owner Jerry Jones,” who has the franchise tag at his disposal — and will execute it — if a long-term contract cannot be struck.
Byron Jones seemingly has the worst odds; there’s been “no communication” between the sides and “no talks are expected” in the near future.
“With years of starting experience at safety and corner, Jones, a former first-round pick, is positioned well on the open market and sources said it looks increasingly likely he will be elsewhere in 2020,” La Canfora wrote.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL