Dak Prescott contract rumors: Jerry Jones walks back 'imminent' comment, Carson Palmer offers bad advice

Dak Prescott, you're up.

With the longstanding holdout from running back Ezekiel Elliott now in the rearview, fans of the Dallas Cowboys are hellbent on now trying to figure out when Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper will land their deals. The problem in doing so is clear, because whereas the two-time NFL rushing champ was absent from work as he lobbied tooth-and-nail to land his historic contract, both Prescott and Cooper were at work and have remained nonchalant about negotiations from minute one. 

The latter two know the market is playing in their favor, and both are willing to bet on themselves in 2019 to potentially drive their asking price higher in 2020. That's not stopping the "we want it now" crowd, though, and owner Jerry Jones -- ever the savvy marketer in how he continues to keep the topic of his choosing atop the news feed -- is keeping them on the line much the same way he did with his sound bytes during Elliott's holdout. 

It doesn't matter to him that the situations are wildly dissimilar, but only that you keep trying to figure out what's going on, and then talking about it endlessly (and with mixed messages) until it's done.

Case in point, Jones said in his post-game address on Sunday -- following Prescott's visceral gutting of the New York Giants -- that a new deal for the Pro Bowl quarterback was "imminent", and that stirred an already boiling pot. Those comments were walked back by team exec Stephen Jones just one day later on 105.3FM the Fan, noting the elder Jones may have a "different meaning" of the word "imminent", and that clarity on the statement would need to be sought with the one who said it. 

And so it was, Jerry Jones was asked to clarify exactly where things are with Prescott, but he instead muddied the water further; and that's no accident.

"[Imminent] means ready to take place, close, near, about to happen -- those types of things," Jones said. "I think I said at our luncheon, that we had that I went even further and said at our luncheon Dak [Zeke] will be on the field when we open up. I thought that I really then had gotten out over my skis because, as I've said so many times, nothing happens until both parties decide that what they're seeing and it's time to go. Nothing ever. 

"I was asked my opinion. I think that we are fast approaching an agreement. Then that's relative maybe to where we've been. On the other hand, that might be my opinion. 

"It sure might not be Dak's opinion. When Dak expresses his opinion or his agent expresses their opinion, that may be different than my opinion. And, so, that can go on for a long time. So, when somebody asks your opinion on whether something's done that takes two to do it, they're speaking just from their perspective, and in my mind we were fast approaching a deal."

OK then.

The reality of where things sit with Prescott are evident, in that both sides want to remain married for a long time to come. At this point, the biggest hurdle is likely the length of the coming deal and not so much the money, with the latter having been more easily framed by the deals on Carson Wentz and Jared Goff -- with Russell Wilson providing the financial ceiling at the position. Until Prescott is ready to put pen to paper, however, it doesn't matter how passionate the Cowboys get (and they are just that) about wooing him to his new deal. 

There are still reasons Prescott could opt to wait, and that includes the aforementioned and at least one or two more, but ultimately this is a deal that could land anywhere between six minutes from now to six months from now. Anything the Hall of Fame owner says before then is of no consequence to the deal itself, but does ensure everyone keeps discussing it.

As far as Prescott's value goes, not everyone believes he should command top dollar. 

One such person is former NFL quarterback Carson Palmer, who also spoke with 105.3FM the Fan this week. Despite having watched Prescott's historic display against the Giants just two days prior, Palmer believes it should be more about helping the team manage the salary cap than landing a windfall contract.

"If I was him, I would do a between a 10 and 15 kind of number, and win a bunch of games and a bunch of Super Bowls, and make up that money he lost out on by not being one of the top two or three [highest-paid] guys in the league," Palmer said. "He'll make that back in endorsements tenfold. I think if he were willing to take a little bit of a price cut, it would enable the team to keep Cooper and continue to pay the guys around him, and continue to pay their offensive line. That is what really stirs the pot for them, is that offensive line. If you continuously draft guys like they have that end up being great players and then pay them and keep them around to protect you -- he'll win a bunch of football games. 

"If I was him, I would not be asking for top money. If I was him, I'd be asking for a team-friendly deal."

Full stop.

As a first-overall pick Palmer was never Prescott, and that extends to when it came time to begin negotiating his own deals.

Assuming Palmer meant Prescott should take a contract that pays him in the top-15 at the position, we'll work our way from there, and with the understanding that even that comment demands data to support it -- considering all current metrics point vehemently toward the contrary. There's also the matter of the source here, considering Palmer had already earned $107,627,242 before then convincing the Arizona Cardinals to award him a three-year deal worth $49.5 million in 2014, and that was just two seasons after he forced his way out of Cincinnati and landing a four-year deal worth $43 million from the Oakland Raiders that he arguably failed to play up to.

Working backward, his deal with the Raiders came eight years after signing an extension with the Bengals that maxed his contract at the time at $118.75 million, and the structure of said contract made Palmer the highest-paid player in the NFL when the 2007 season rolled around -- besting even a still-primo Brett Favre at the time.

In 2016, Palmer then milked the Cardinals for a one-year extension worth $24.35 million, and at a time when the Cardinals were one of the most cap-poor teams in the league -- carrying an available cap space of only $4.73 million that year -- hardly giving them any sort of wiggle room that season once he signed his non-team-friendly paperwork.

This brought Palmer's career NFL earnings to $172,148,722 over the span of his time in pro football, with the following breakdown:

TeamCash Earnings






[Per Spotrac]

It's also key to note that average annual salary in Palmer's NFL tenure isn't an apples-to-apples comparison to how things are in 2019 as the salary cap is exponentially higher, but in his time, he once sat upon the throne of highest-paid and ended his career with nearly $200 million in earnings. None of this is to say Palmer didn't earn it, but instead, it's to point at that if he justifiably believes he did; it's a bit disingenuous to then ask a former fourth-round compensatory pick who signed an initial and pre-negotiated rookie scale deal that maxed at $2.7 million to accept less money.

When you also factor in how cap-wealthy the Cowboys are in 2019 and beyond -- having actually gained a surplus in funds this season by extending DeMarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith, La'El Collins and Ezekiel Elliott -- what Palmer is suggesting simply doesn't add up. The math is the math, and there's no getting around how it works in Prescott's favor, much like it did for Palmer in his heyday. That is unless he's forgotten, but it's safe to say his bank account hasn't. 

Lastly, while there is no guarantee any player in the NFL will win a Super Bowl -- as Palmer knows firsthand, having never once played in the Super Bowl -- what can be guaranteed is the second and (maybe) third contract a player negotiates. Prescott has grossly outperformed both his draft status and subsequent NFL pay, and now it's time he gets his just dessert. There's more than enough pie to go around, even if Palmer's already full belly and Jones' negotiating tactics claim otherwise. 

Palmer mentioned how well the Cowboys draft, and that's correct, along with how they'll need to pay the top guys who then perform after being drafted; which is also accurate. This also, however, disproves his own point because it's the ability to draft well that will also -- along with the aforementioned cap wealth -- keep talented satellite players on cost-efficient deals around to help support those atop the team's pay scale.

The math is the math and, simply put, that's science. 

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