Doubling down on the “laughable” trade rumor engulfing Russell Wilson and the Cowboys, NFL Network’s Jane Slater reported Monday that Dallas is “still trying to truly” reach a long-term contract with its own quarterback, Dak Prescott.
However, in doing so, Slater unearthed a complicating factor in multi-million-dollar negotiations between the sides — a factor that extends beyond numbers on a sheet of paper.
“Last year’s [offer to Prescott] was in the ballpark of Russell Wilson/Jared Goff-type money. Now he’s looking to be paid right behind Patrick Mahomes, a guy who’s gone to the Super Bowl two years in a row. Dak hasn’t done that yet,” Slater said on the Dan Patrick Show. “[The Cowboys] feel like it’s been a respectable offer. His camp believes that he needs to bear what the market value is. They feel like this deal should have gotten done two years ago, so ‘your problems with money aren’t our problems, it’s about respect.'”
Fruitless discussions between the Cowboys and Prescott’s agent, Todd France, resulted in the former Pro Bowl passer playing 2020 on his $31.4 million franchise tag. Prescott reportedly turned down several multi-year proposals from the team, the last of which would have paid roughly $34.5 million annually and included $110 million guaranteed.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported at the time the Cowboys “don’t believe there is a disrespect aspect” with the tag, particularly after proving their willingness to pay Dak commensurate to his market value.
“Team sources insist again they have offered Dak more than Wentz & Goff. Difference has been length – team wanted 5 yr extension and Dak wanted 4 yr. Dak still hanging tough,” Mortensen tweeted on March 16, 2020.
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Return to the Bargaining Table
ESPN’s Todd Archer reported last month that Dallas has held “discussions, if not actual negotiations” with France, who could score his client an ever-elusive long-term pact by March 9, the final day to use the 2021 tag.
“Between Tuesday and March 9, the Cowboys hope to work out a long-term deal with Prescott. There have been discussions – if not actual negotiations – with Prescott’s rep. Without a long-term deal by March 9, the next deadline to watch is July 15, the final day the sides can reach an agreement or else Prescott has [to] play the season on the tag,” Archer wrote.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport echoed Archer’s hearsay, reporting the Cowboys want to sign the cornerstone signal-caller to a long-term contract “now,” in spite of the 27-year-old’s recovery from a gruesome ankle injury. Rapoport explained, though, that Prescott holds a majority of the leverage as he is guaranteed to make no less than $37.7 million for 2021 — the cost of the franchise tender and a monstrous cap number the club hopes to lessen.
“The job of an agent is to get the best deal for his player, and letting it play out like this certainly will result in Dak Prescott making a lot more money than he would’ve had the Cowboys and Prescott agreed to a contract before last season. Probably would have been in the low-30 [millions per year] then. Now looking up around probably $40 million [per year],” Rapoport said last month.
“The most significant thing that is going on here, as far as my understanding, is the Cowboys want to get this done now. The reason why that’s significant is obviously Dak Prescott is coming off major surgery from a serious ankle injury. The fact that they are confident enough in his rehab to do a big-time, long-term deal now speaks very well to how he’s coming along, his future, and how badly they not just want — but need — him to become the franchise quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys for the foreseeable future.”
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Cause for Optimism?
Based on Slater’s intimations, the Cowboys and Prescott are not close to reaching an accord — imminent, as Jerry Jones likes to say. But, from what she’s gathered, these complex, layered negotiations seem to be healthier this time around.
“There still is no change from last year and years past. There has to be some give by both sides in order to get this done, but I truly feel like they want to get it done,” Slater said. “I was told by a team source it feels — and their tone kind of went up a bit — a little bit more productive.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL