If he put pen to paper today, Dak Prescott would be $5 million richer than if he’d done so a week ago.
The exact total of the Dallas Cowboys quarterback’s exclusive franchise tag varied. Many information sources stated it was worth approximately $33 million, while others ran with $31.5 million when it was applied March 16. In reality, it was a bit lower — around $26.824 million, the average of the NFL’s top-five QB salaries.
But as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday, that figure was merely a “placeholder” until the restricted free-agent period signing period closed April 17. The “real number for Dak” has crystallized at $31.409 million for the 2020 campaign.
In the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t change much. Prescott has yet to sign his tag and likely still won’t even after the pay bump. Deadlocked in months-long contract negotiations, he’s rejected two extensions in excess of $33 million annually, seeking to become the league’s highest-paid signal-caller, a title that currently belongs to Seattle’s Russell Wilson ($35 million AAV).
Until Dallas increases its offer or Prescott lowers his demand, the sides will continue haggling. They’ve continually taken a one-step-forward-two-steps-back approach, discussions fizzling as quickly as they spark. A major hold-up is length; the player prefers a four-year agreement, the team wants a five- or six-year deal.
The Cowboys and Prescott have until July 15 to reach an accord, assuming NFL-mandated deadlines are left unchanged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports have claimed the 26-year-old, barring a new contract, will skip the club’s virtual (and voluntary) offseason program, which began Monday.
The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore reported Monday the Cowboys held a conversation with Prescott’s camp within the last two weeks, “and a source described that session as ‘very positive.’” Moore also said it “remains to be seen” whether Dak indeed holds out from the offseason sessions.
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Jones Discusses Interest in Drafting High-Round QB
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones downplayed the team’s recent virtual interview with the dual-threat Oklahoma quarterback, which he affirmed was neither an indictment on Prescott’s starting job nor a sign that oft-stalled negotiations with the incumbent are beyond repair.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with Dak’s contract in terms of our interest in a quarterback,” Jones said last week on 105.3 The Fan. “We’re always looking to get better … always looking to have a good back-up situation, especially if it’s a young player who can develop. I think you’re going down the wrong path when you equate it to Dak’s situation, his contract situation. I don’t think it equates to what we’re looking at there.”
A projected Day 2 pick in next week’s NFL draft, Hurts is a dynamic athlete equally capable of burning defenses through the air and on the ground. The one-and-done Sooners standout and 2018 Alabama national champion threw for 3,851 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 1,298 yards and 20 scores last season alone, en route to first-team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors.
If he’s still available between Dallas’ Nos. 51 and 82 selections, Jones and the brain trust could heavily weigh their options, and possibly pull the trigger. If not, the club may turn its attention to FIU QB James Morgan, a Day 3 prospect whom the Cowboys are “legitimately” interested in.
Dallas currently has just one QB — Cooper Rush, retained for 2020 on a $2.1 million restricted free-agent tender — stationed behind Prescott.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL