If nothing else, Dak Prescott can breathe easy knowing he’s guaranteed $31.4 million for the 2020 season — the amount of his exclusive franchise tag, which the Dallas Cowboys quarterback has yet to sign.
A tag which under no circumstances, including a protracted contract squabble, will be removed from the bargaining table, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed.
“Absolutely not,” Jones recently told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “Dak’s our quarterback for the future. Obviously, this hasn’t been the easiest thing. As Jerry says, ‘As money gets bigger, deals get harder.’ Certainly, we’re talking a significant amount of money here which he so deserves. Absolutely not. Dak’s going to be our quarterback this year. He’s our quarterback for the future. We think the world of him. He represents our franchise in a very positive way in terms of what we want as a leader of our team. He’s just an outstanding man, and we would never rescind the franchise tag.”
As Florio points out, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement permits Dallas to rescind the tag at their own discretion. And there’s incentive (read: leverage) behind such a maneuver. If Prescott were to play this year on the band-aid tender, the team would need to offer the two-time Pro Bowler at least $37.68 million in 2021 — a 20% increase in salary — to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
“By ruling out rescinding the tender, the Cowboys have accepted the fact that they’ll either give Dak a record contract or see the clock tick loudly toward a potential financial nightmare, or the departure of their starting quarterback,” Florio wrote.
The sides have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term pact. Failing that, Prescott would be presented with two options: Sign the tag or sit out the 2020 campaign. There’s no indication, as of this writing, that Prescott is prepared to open Door No. 2, but things can (and will) change over the next few months with training camp drawing closer.
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Prescott, Dallas Reportedly ‘Ready for Anything’
Prescott isn’t any closer to landing his desired megadeal than he was in March. Or February. Or last September. His camp remains embroiled in talks with the Cowboys — talks that have not borne fruit and perhaps never will.
“There’s been a bit a lull in negotiations with the Cowboys, so both sides continue to talk this up,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported Sunday on SportsCenter, per Bleacher Report. “But I’m told they should be ready for anything, including the possibility of pressing up against that July 15 deadline for the franchise tag. There’s a few obstacles in play, including number of years. The Cowboys like to go longer term—five, six, seven years on their deals. Prescott wants more flexibility on that, and so it’s been steady, but it’s been very slow on that front.”
Along with Prescott’s aforementioned preference to ink a four-year contract, he’s allegedly aiming to eclipse Seattle’s Russell Wilson ($35 million annually) as the NFL’s highest-paid QB. Previous reports claimed Prescott rejected at least two offers that would have paid him in excess of $33 million annually with $105 million in guarantees.
Mike Fisher of Maven Sports recently reported the Cowboys are discussing a proposal worth $35 million per year and over $106 million guaranteed. The yearly salary would make Prescott the highest-paid player, not just signal-caller, in league history.
For what it’s worth, Jones has continually expressed optimism that an agreement will “get done” in the weeks or, if necessary, the months ahead.
“No one thinks more of Dak Prescott than Jerry Jones and myself. I know [coach] Mike [McCarthy], when he signed on, part of why he signed on was Dak Prescott. It’s just getting it done,” he said on a recent episode of SportsCenter, via The Athletic and Bleacher Report. He continued:
The bigger these deals get, Jerry and I have always found that to be the case in business, the bigger the dollars get, the harder they get. We believe in our track record of getting players signed. I totally believe we’ll get Dak signed at the right number that’s good for Dak, good for the Cowboys, good for this team. And I think at the end of the day, the fact that we’re getting some nice hype for our draft, I think he’s going to want to get in here and get with these players, whether it’s CeeDee Lamb or anyone else. He wants to win.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL