Dak Prescott, Cowboys contract talks: The wait continues, but the quarterback has already won
Here's the game and the only way to play it: Sit back, set the bar exponentially high and wait for Jerry Jones
Looks like we're going to keep sweating this Dak Prescott contract thing, huh? Even though there really won't be much to see or hear until mid July, and despite nothing actually going on, this remains the story that refuses to go away even amid a pandemic.
Maybe it's because it's the Cowboys … and everything is bigger (and over-hyped and blown out of proportion) in Texas. Maybe it's because Jerry Jones is involved. Maybe it's because there is literally nothing else going on in the world of sports. But the singular ability of it creating repeated "news cycles" regarding this non-event, over a prolonged period of time, despite nothing really changing, is truly a modern marvel.
Like literally not much has happened since the start of the 2019 season, and yet Dak Mania rages on. Some people just refuse to accept the obvious parameters at play. Common sense just won't prevail when it comes to this showdown between very good quarterback and chronically, habitually overrated football franchise.
So I guess I'll have to break down and break it down yet again. Prescott won. He has all the leverage. Jerry will keep bidding against himself up until the mid-July deadline to extend a player on the franchise tag. It will either get done, or it won't. And either way, Dak isn't going anywhere for another few years. And nothing is going to change the fact that he's already won.
Once again, if you are representing Prescott amid a pandemic after he's already coming off the best season of his career and has more than $30M in guaranteed salary sitting before him for the 2020 season, there is only one sensible thing to do – wait. Especially with no offseason and no OTAs and no risk of real injury and with that July deadline looming.
Time is entirely on his side. No one wants this to work out more than Jerry, who hangs his hat on selecting Prescott where he did. He found a new favorite player to replace his old one – CBS Sports' own Tony Romo – playing the most important position in all of professional sports. He doesn't have eyes for anyone else, and Prescott's representatives know this. So you continue to sit back and set the bar exponentially high and wait and see if and when Jerry reaches it.
That's the game. And that's the only way to play it in this scenario.
Dak did just fine making $5M the past four years for his own field work. And he saw what happened the last time an NFC East QB got into a similar situation with an owner; it changed generations of the Kirk Cousins family in ways no one could have imagined. And just like Cousins, if Dak were to hold the bar at, in this case, $40M a year, then Jerry will do the same thing that Snyder did. He'll use the tag again. And now we're over $66M for two season and staring at potential unrestricted free agency in 2022 (three tags is a bridge too far).
And by 2022 there will be new broadcast deals and the gambling money will be flowing in and no one will be talking about the cap possibly decreasing. God willing, this pandemic will be long and gone and a vaccine will be widely available and the global economy will be rebounding.
There is no way in hell that the QB market in 2022 would be nearly as glutted as the unprecedented free agent and trade market was this offseason. It won't even be close. Supply will not meet demand, and Prescott could be uniquely positioned to cash in.
The money on an average basis is going to be between $35M-$40M a year. There is really no way around that at this point. That is what it is. It's already on the table. The actual issue at the heart of this is how many years Prescott is willing to sacrifice right now, in such uncertain times, with the owners maybe playing a partial season without fans and with short-term revenues in jeopardy.
All the more reason, of course, to gamble on himself again. Only this time for $30M and not $1.5M. This, really, isn't even a gamble anymore. At least not for the QB. The risk is all on the club side now. They created this monster; Dak would be foolish not to fully capitalize on that.
Consider, again, Cousins, who is in the middle of a period of an unimaginable seven straight years of fully guaranteed contracts. For a player of his accomplishment, that is staggering. Prescott could shatter it. I wouldn't consider anything much beyond a three year extension for, say, $110M guaranteed.
He could simply follow the Cousins model and cash in exponentially more than the former Skins QB did. There is no rush to anything at all. There is no need to do anything at all. And hanging on every faux turn in this negotiation is an exercise in futility and defies logic.
The scope of this has always pointed to July, and nothing short of Jones caving on any and everything would preclude that. The fact he didn't reach that point as Prescott was compiling a treasure trove of stats last season, and the fact that this wasn't done immediately after the season, always pointed to a mid-July resolution.
That is most often the case with franchise tag situations of this magnitude and especially at the QB position and even more so considering we are talking about one of the most valuable franchises on the planet and on the heels of another decade of labor peace via the new CBA.
I'm sure there will be plenty of other leaks and spins and attention grabs between now and whenever this is resolved. And it will likely be much ado about nothing. Because the greatest power Prescott has right now is to do absolutely nothing, and wait for that deadline to get here.
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