Dak Prescott Urged to Sign With ‘Best Fit’ NFC Rival, Face Cowboys in 2021

Dak Prescott

Getty Dak Prescott playing against the Lions in 2019

Dak Prescott is unlikely to shop his wares when the NFL’s signing period opens next month. This is universally acknowledged both inside and outside league circles. But that fact isn’t slowing speculation as to where the Dallas Cowboys quarterback could play come September.

As an example, ESPN identified the Carolina Panthers as the best free-agent fit for Prescott, who’s intent on landing a lucrative long-term deal from Dallas. Failing that, for the second straight offseason, the team is expected to slap the franchise tag on the 27-year-old — the tag rising from $31.4 million in 2020 to a projected $37.7 million in 2021, fully guaranteed.

Alas, however, the Worldwide Leader’s Jeremy Fowler envisions a scenario where Dak defects to the NFC rival, who, as fate would have it, are scheduled to face the Cowboys this fall.

Franchise tagging Prescott a second time will lock the quarterback into a $37 million salary, which instantly becomes a benchmark for per-year value on a long-term deal. With Dallas picking 10th overall in a strong draft for quarterbacks, selecting a passer for one-eighth the annual price isn’t a terrible strategy if you’re still unwilling to meet Prescott’s demands. Dallas isn’t in terrible cap trouble with $14.2 million in space, but that’s with Prescott off the books. They have work to do.

In Carolina, Teddy Bridgewater’s future is murky after his late-season struggles, and the Panthers have shown they are all-in on the quarterback carousel. They got involved in the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes. If Deshaun Watson becomes available, they will probably do the same. They have $10.9 million in cap space and could create more with cuts and restructures. Moving on from Bridgewater’s contract would hit Carolina with $20 million in dead money, but they would also have $22.9 million in salary cap off the books.

Let Prescott and offensive coordinator Joe Brady get weird with a schemed-up mix of spread and NFL offensive concepts.

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Update on Prescott-Cowboys Negotiations

While the Cowboys are intent on signing Prescott to a long-term contract, discussions with the star signal-caller are thus far, again, fruitless. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday the parties are “still not close” on a new deal.

“Sources told ESPN that the Cowboys still want to re-sign Prescott, who wants to remain in Dallas. But the sides still have plenty of work to do on a new deal, with a history of not being able to get it done,” Schefter wrote.

The Cowboys and Prescott were permitted to resume negotiations after the 2020 regular season concluded, following the latter’s decision to forego a massive offer from the organization — reportedly worth $34.5 million annually with a $50 million signing bonus and $110 million guaranteed — to play on his franchise tender.

Three options remain in the days ahead as talks should intensify: strike a long-term deal, resort to the tag for a second time, or, most improbably, execute a tag-and-trade involving an outside suitor.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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