Unsettling Report Surfaces on Cowboys, Dak Prescott Contract Negotiations

Dak Prescott

Getty Dak Prescott

With 33 days remaining until the franchise tag signing deadline, long-term contract discussions between the Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott remain in a problematic holding pattern.

ESPN NFL insider Dianna Russini reported earlier this week that “at this point, both sides aren’t really doing a lot of talking” — a prevailing theme throughout months-long negotiations regarding a potential market-setting megadeal.

Russini echoed previous speculation which exposed the primary sticking point preventing an agreement: Length.

“To Prescott’s camp, they want the four-year deal. The Dallas Cowboys want the five,” Russini said, via 247Sports. “Obviously, Dak Prescott’s people want that shorter deal because with the new CBA that would kick in, which would put him up for another contract. But Dak Prescott, at this point, he can really just sit back here because he’s either going to get a lot more money — which we know he’s looking to get, every single penny, while Jerry Jones is trying to save every penny — or he can, what we’ve know made a verb in the football world, he can just Kirk Cousins it, at this point, which is take that franchise tag, become one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league and just continue to do that and make a lot of money. But those that are close to the situation will consistently say this will probably get done before that July 15 deadline.”

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Kirk-Dak Parallel

Cousins, currently the Minnesota Vikings‘ starting quarterback, was where Prescott is just three short years ago: franchise-tagged and unable to score a new contract. Then with the Washington Redskins, Cousins was tagged in 2016, and again in 2017, before finally reaching the open market — financial freedom.

His short-term setbacks ultimately paid off in the form of long-term wealth. He broke the mold in 2018 by landing a fully-guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal from the Vikings, earning an annual salary of $28 million (near market value, at the time) while preserving another bite at the apple, in his prime.

That bite came early — this past March, when Cousins signed a two-year, $66 million extension, which included a $30 million signing bonus.

In May, Cousins encouraged Prescott to embrace the scenario where he plays out the 2020 campaign on his $31.4 million tag, which would make him the NFL’s seventh-highest paid QB.

“Anybody who I run into who’s been franchise tagged, we have one on our team this year in Anthony Harris, I believe the franchise tag can be your friend,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something to be disappointed with. I think it enables you to be well compensated, and deservedly so, for the upcoming season. Then, I always say the cream will rise to the top. If you’re good enough, the cream’s going to rise to the top, and you’re going to get compensated the way you want to. Sometimes it doesn’t happen as quickly as you would like, but if you deserve it, and you’ve earned it, it’s going to happen. So you’ve just got to stay the course and stay patient. Certainly in my journey, it all worked out. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.

“So my message to Dak, when I saw him midseason last year, was, ‘Hey, whatever happens, don’t be afraid of the tag. It can be your friend, and you can use it to your advantage.’”


Most Recent Offer, Tricky Tag Scenario

ESPN’s Todd Archer reported last month the Cowboys put an offer on the table that would vault Prescott to second-highest-paid overall behind Seattle’s Russell Wilson, at more than $34 million annually. The proposal includes guarantees “on par” with Rams QB Jared Goff’s record-setting $110 million.

Although Prescott allegedly prefers to leapfrog Wilson as the league’s richest player on an annual basis, the $34 million-plus overture is an increase in Dallas’ previous proposal, worth $33.5 million with at least $105 million guaranteed.

If no deal is reached and Dak inks his franchise tender, the club would need to offer the 2016 fourth-round pick 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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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL