Cowboys Dak Prescott’s ‘Tremendous Leverage’ Could Yield QB-Record Contract: Ex-NFL GM

Cowboys' Dak Prescott

Getty Cowboys' Dak Prescott

On the surface, it looks like a pretty easy decision. The CowboysDak Prescott was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season, arguably the best: He led the NFL with 410 completions and 36 touchdowns, racked up 4,516 yards and had a career-high quarterback rating of 105.9.

Add to that the fact that Dallas structured his contract in his last extension so that there would be a major balloon payment in the final year. His cap hit is more than $59 million in 2024, a number the Cowboys simply cannot afford. The path is marked, then: Pay Prescott handsomely, and rework the deal to relieve the cap hit.

Ah but it is not that simple. As Ex-NFL GM Jeff Diamond told Matt Lombardo on his Substack page (Lombardo is also a Heavy Sports contributor), he would understand if the Prescott situation is keeping Cowboys owner Jerry Jones up at night.

Diamond offered an estimation of what the final Prescott deal will look like: four years and around $55 million per year.

Cowboys’ Dak Prescott Has $59 Million on the Table

That is hefty, obviously. At Spotrac, Prescott’s market value is tabbed at $50.8 million, with a four-year, $203 million contract predicted. But there has been speculation, too, that Prescott will get as much as $60 million per year.

Currently, the highest paid quarterback is the Bengals’ Joe Burrow, who is on a five-year, $275 million deal he signed just ahead of the start of this season. That’s $55 million per year. No. 2 on the list is Justin Herbert ($52.5 million), followed by Lamar Jackson ($52 million) and Jalen Hurts ($51 million).

Because Prescott can walk away from the table and still get $59 million this year, it’s hard to imagine he won’t force the Cowboys to make him No. 1 in annual salary.

“Dak has tremendous leverage because the team has to get a deal done,” Diamond told Lombardo. “They probably have to do a four-year extension for between $210-220 million with a $50 million signing bonus pro-rated over five years and a low 2024 cap number to around $24 million in total to save them about $31 million against the cap this offseason.

“The guarantee probably be about $200 million. That’s pretty strong for a really good regular season quarterback, but not so great in the postseason, with a 2-5 playoff record and coming off a bad loss to the Packers.”

Playoff Flops Are the Big Negative

Ah, yes, the loss to the Packers. And the playoff record. If the Cowboys have something on their side of the ledger to chop down Prescott’s payout, it’s the fact that he has flopped so badly as a playoff quarterback over the years.

Prescott’s counter, of course, could be that Burrow has done nothing in the playoffs, nor Herbert. Jackson has underachieved. Probably the biggest shot Prescott could take, though, is this: What are your other choices?

Indeed, if the Cowboys decided to walk away from re-signing Prescott, they would be stuck with a team that has several holes and no cap space in the short term and not many other options in the long term.

The Cowboys brought in Trey Lance as insurance for the Prescott negotiations, but given the numbers Prescott put up in the regular season, threatening to hand the reins over to Lance is nonsensical.

It’s a tight corner for Jerry Jones. Prescott can just wait him out.