By now, most are aware that the length of the Dallas Cowboys‘ contract offers to Dak Prescott — not necessarily the total value — remains a primary roadblock preventing the sides from reaching an agreement.
Prescott, 26, is holding out for a four-year arrangement, maintaining the ability to re-test the market when he turns 30, while the Cowboys want the franchise-tagged quarterback to ink a five-year pact. At last check, Dallas floated a proposal reportedly worth $35 million annually with over $106 million guaranteed.
The only way Prescott accepts, according to former NFL QB and current analyst Chris Simms, is if the team works into his potential contract a monster incentive: $45 million for the hypothetical fifth year.
“From what I know of the situation, and I know from some people who are in the know that he’s been offered five years, $175 million,” Simms told 105.3 The Fan’s “K & C Masterpiece” on Tuesday, via Sports Illustrated. “He wants a four-year deal. If they do agree to a five-year deal they would like a really big number at the end of that fifth year to cover their butts for what the market might be at the position five years from now. And I’ve heard he’s asking for somewhere like north of $45 million in that fifth year.”
No player in league history has ever crossed the $40 million-per-year threshold. Even Seattle QB Russell Wilson, the sport’s highest-paid player on an annual basis ($35 million), is well short of the colossal mark. Kansas City’s reigning Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes, figures to blow past Wilson, but even he might not make the type of dough Prescott allegedly desires.
At $175 million in total value, Prescott would dwarf Atlanta QB Matt Ryan’s $150 million deal. However, the rumored guarantees would fall short of Los Angeles QB Jared Goff’s record-setting $110 million.
It’s a complicated situation for the parties, each with their own leverage and self-serving interests. So complicated that Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones characterized Dak as “the elephant in the room” and directed the former first-round pick to “accept what he want to pay him.”
“I mean, at the end of the day I know everybody’s out there, ‘How have you not paid Dak?’ At the same time, we’ve tried to pay him, and he has to accept what we want to pay him,” Jones recently told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “But the deal’s got to be right for Dak, it’s gotta be right for us. As you know, the salary cap makes this a zero-sum game for owners. This is not something where Jerry and myself are trying to save money so the Cowboys can make more money for the Jones family. We’re just trying to do our very best working with [coach] Mike [McCarthy], working with [V.P. of player personnel] Will McClay. Really divide up the pie in the best way possible to win a Super Bowl.”
Jones conceded that months-long negotiations could butt up against the July 15 deadline for Prescott either to ink a long-term contract or his $31.4 million exclusive franchise tag.
Under the latter scenario, the team would need to offer Prescott at least $37.68 million in 2021 — a 20-percent increase in salary — to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent next March, per the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
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Prescott Predicted to Take Step Back Statistically in 2020
Go figure: With more weapons, Dak will have less to show for it. That is the latest estimation, anyway, from Bleacher Report, which projected the Cowboys quarterback will deliver fewer completions, passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions during the 2020 NFL season.
The digital media giant predicted Prescott will go 375-of-576 for 4,707 yards, 27 TDs, 9 INTs while adding 64 carries for 328 rushing yards and four scores.
To be fair, it’s tough for any QB to duplicate the numbers that Prescott compiled last year, when he came within one yard of tying the single-season franchise passing record held by Tony Romo. The fourth-year pro also set career highs in attempts (596), yards-per-pass (8.2) and completions of 20-plus yards (68).
It’s certainly possible, if not probable, that predicted Dallas’ ascension from their 8-8 finish lastseason comes at the cost of Prescott’s personal stats. But the downturn, assuming there is one, should be relatively minor given the two-time Pro Bowler’s insanely talented supporting cast.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL