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Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys: Why is a Deal Not Done?

(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Lost a bit in the recent news that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott donated $1 million to improve police training and education was that the young signal-caller has not signed a contract with the team. Prescott was given the franchise tag by the Cowboys to start the season while he reportedly remained committed to getting a new deal. But the recent global pandemic and other league contracts are now complicating that deal. The team has until 4 p.m. ET on July 15 to sign Prescott to a long-term extension.

According to reports, Prescott was offered a five-year, $175 million contract from the Cowboys, which would make him the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history. This information was provided by NBC Sports’ Chris Simms on Wednesday during an interview on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. The two-time Pro Bowler is reportedly seeking around $45 million per year to play for Dallas.

One of the issues is that Texan’s quarterback DeShaun Watson and Chief’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes are also looking for new deals. In addition to Prescott, the three players are due to make mega-deals that will smash the quarterback market on an average per year basis. All three deals will be hard to get done as each one is waiting for the other to set the bar, then exceed the bar. This holds true especially for Mahomes, who would not want to be paid less than the other two, who have not won a Super Bowl as of yet.

Now on top of this, the global pandemic has affected many sports and their economic future. Without fans in the stands, NFL revenues will decrease for the owners, which means the players will take part in the losses since they are partners. As a result, the salary cap for 2021 might be significantly lower.

On the flip side, if the NFL could hold steady during the tough times, they could face some economic prosperity in the future. NFL television deals expire after 2021 for ESPN and 2022 for CBS, NBC, and Fox. Projections suggest the league could double its rights fees from $7.5 billion to $15 billion in working out new deals. This could cause the salary cap to jump significantly in 2022.

This impacts the negotiations as contract length is also one of the issues. The Cowboys would like a longer contract, something they have already done with other players that helps give the cap flexibility. Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith, and Amari Cooper have signed huge extensions. The Cowboys try to account for those salaries on paper by offering the longest contracts in football. These kinds of deals allow the Cowboys to hand out big salaries and then repeatedly restructure those contracts to create short-term cap space. This is something that works well as long as the players in these kinds of contracts stay healthy.

Prescott has not been willing to take a long-term deal up to this point.

Another issue is that having Prescott signed from his rookie deal was quite a bargain for Dallas. Being a fourth-round pick in 2016, the Cowboys only had to pay him a little over $4 million combined across his first four years in the NFL. Based on his performance, he might feel that the Cowboys should make up for that bargain.

The 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year has not had a losing season since taking the reins from Tony Romo prior to the start of the 2016 season. Since then, he’s racked up 15,778 passing yards, 97 touchdown passes, and 36 interceptions. Prescott has played in every game since taking over and had his best season yet in 2019. He recorded 4,902 passing yards with 30 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions.

However, the naysayers point out that if he would get the deal he was looking for, he would make more money than other quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls. Prescott has only appeared in three playoff games, winning one during the 2018 season.

If the Cowboys and Prescott cannot come together on a deal, he will likely sign his franchise tag and play out the 2020 season on a one-year, $31.4 million deal. It might be the best thing to do anyway in a difficult and unique time for NFL teams and players as they navigate unfamiliar territory.







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