ESPN Releases Unnerving Update on Cowboys, Dak Prescott Contract Talks

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Getty Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

You can’t blame this on the coronavirus.

ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler reported Saturday the Dallas Cowboys and impending free-agent quarterback Dak Prescott have had “minimal contact of late,” after the team floated its latest contract offer earlier this month.

“It’s a bit of a concern,” he said.

Thus, Fowler reaffirms the inevitable and anticlimactic end conclusion to months-long negotiations: the franchise tag. Dallas is expected to apply the exclusive tag, worth roughly $33 million for 2020, by Monday’s deadline.

But — and here’s a glimmer of hope — the NFL and NFL Players Association are tentatively expected to ratify the Collective Bargaining Agreement by Sunday night. As Fowler explains, this will give Cowboys officials clearer knowledge of their spending power, possibly catalyzing a long-term deal for the two-time Pro Bowl passer.

But — and here’s the downside — the new CBA would preclude teams from using both the exclusive and transition tags. In other words, if Dallas were to allocate it to Prescott, they’d risk losing star wide receiver Amari Cooper, also an unrestricted free agent.

Cooper’s camp reportedly is engaged in fruitful discussions with the Cowboys, and the tea leaves suggest an agreement on a market-resetting pact, perhaps approaching $20 million annually.

Things are trickier as it pertains to Prescott, who prefers a shorter, unconventional (for the club) four-year deal — the remaining “sticking point,” NFL Network’s Jane Slater recently reported.

Coincidentally, this echoed Fowler’s March 2 report which claimed Prescott, 26, could opt for a short-term solution, culminating in a massive windfall now and the opportunity to re-test the open market later, before he turns 30.

“One source suggested that Prescott might prefer to do a shorter-term deal than the traditional long Cowboys deal that allows them to keep restructuring for cap relief. If Prescott signed a Kirk Cousins-style three-year deal, for example, he’d hit free agency again at age 29. Prescott might also be waiting to see whether the Texans extend Deshaun Watson this offseason, and then he could work off of that deal if it establishes new quarterback standards.”

Dallas’ most recent proposal to Dak, based on hearsay, increased from what they offered during the 2019 season: $33 million per year, with $105 million guaranteed. The average annual value likely puts Prescott in line with Los Angeles QB Jared Goff, who inked a four-year, $134 million contract ($33.5 million AAV) including an NFL-record $110 million in guarantees.

It’s above the Goff deal,” a source told Slater.

ESPN’s Todd Archer reported Monday the Cowboys’ overture is “at least” in the ballpark of Goff and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, who’s making $33.5 million annually on a four-year, $134 million deal which included $98.2 million in guarantees ($78.7 million fully guaranteed at signing) and a $57.5 million signing bonus.

As of now, with the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the nation, NFL free agency is set to begin Wednesday, March 18, preceded by the 48-hour tampering period when deals can be consummated but not formally signed.

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Prescott Earns Hefty Performance-Based Bonus From NFL

Prescott got paid before (maybe) getting paid. The Cowboys’ cornerstone signal-caller is taking home a $234,019 performance-based bonus for the 2019 season, the NFL announced Thursday.

In a breakout campaign marred by the club’s 8-8 record and untimely December collapse, Prescott set a new career-best with 4,902 air yards (second-most in the league, one shy of tying the organization’s single-season record) and 30 touchdowns on 65.1-percent passing (388-of-596).

Due in large part to his right shoulder, the Cowboys ranked first in scrimmage yards (431.5 per game), second in passing offense (296.9 YPG), and sixth in scoring (27.1 points per game).

The NFL established performance-based perks to reward highly-active players who carry lower salaries. Prescott’s payout represents about 11.5 percent of his $2.025 million base salary for 2019, the final year of his rookie deal.

READ NEXT: Cowboys Set Official Pre-Draft Visit with Fascinating QB Prospect

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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