It's been a long time in the making, but Dak Prescott is now married to the Dallas Cowboys. The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback has agreed to terms on a new contract, sources confirmed to CBS Sports. It was an exhaustive negotiation for both sides that began two years ago and saw a mix of compromises and stalemates that led to a franchise tag being applied in 2020 and a second, more expensive one, looming in 2021. But the team achieved its goal of avoiding carving out $37.7 million on a second tag and instead secured Prescott for the long term.
The official cap hit of Prescott's new deal is to-be-determined once the contract is finalized and the structure is revealed, but it stands to reason the first year will be a lower hit against the Cowboys salary cap than if the tag had been applied, and the numbers are in on it as well -- making for an easy preliminary calculation. Prescott stood firm and got his ask of four years, with a maximum value of $160 million with a record $126 million in guaranteed money, sources confirmed to CBS Sports. The total value can ultimately reach upwards of $164 million with escalators. He'll average $42 million per year over the first three seasons, but there's a reason the overarching deal helps the Cowboys save cap space: It's because it's reportedly actually a six-year deal that's voidable after four years, per Adam Schefter of ESPN, which means the much-needed compromise that had to be struck to get it done finally was achieved -- after three years of trying.
This deal marks the fourth contractual home run swing in which Dallas has been able to secure one of their cornerstone players (five if you count starting right tackle La'El Collins), having already done so with DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper before now. Following the move to secure defensive end Lawrence on a five-year deal worth $105 million that made him the highest-paid player on the team at the time, and fellow All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott secured a historic deal of his own only four months later -- Cooper garnering a $100 million deal in 2020. The latter two would mean precipitously less if talks eventually devolved to the point where Prescott walked in 2022 after being forced to play under another tag, but the Cowboys are thankful it never came to that.
Although, they did dance dangerously close to the cliff's edge in how the negotiations dragged on into a third year. And, as was reported by CBS Sports in July, the negotiations were steered by Stephen Jones with little to no interference by owner Jerry Jones, but a separate source indicates that wasn't the case this time around. As expected, the elder Jones had at least one hand on the wheel to prevent the car from careening over the median and into the ravine, and Prescott himself was more involved as well than in the previous attempts.
That said, things never once became contentious between Prescott and the Cowboys, although there were frustrations in seeing the July 15 deadline pass without an agreement. The team (read: Stephen Jones) and Prescott's agent, Todd France, locked into a quiet stare down mostly due to the length of the deal, with the Cowboys wanting to secure their QB for five years, but France was hellbent on keeping it no longer than four. At one point during the day on July 15, the silence was broken by the front office and Prescott speaking directly, sources told CBS Sports at the time, but by then it was too late to hammer out the final details and submit paperwork to the league's front office before the 4 p.m. ET deadline landed.
Things only got more complicated from there, with the COVID-19 pandemic set to scuttle a portion of what was predicted to be a much-increased salary cap for 2021, and Prescott having suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 that required surgery to repair. The latest round of silence has been rooted in the Cowboys desperately trying to get a handle on what the new salary cap would be before reigniting talks with Prescott, but the final clarity/number didn't arrive before the franchise tag window opened on Feb. 23 -- the team having no willingness to tag Prescott until/unless they absolutely had to.
With Prescott's value to the team having been put on full display during his absence, and with his decision to undergo a second, voluntary surgery to further strengthen his ankle (one that has him ahead of schedule and likely set to join the team in April to begin offseason conditioning), the NFL and NFLPA agreeing to a $180 million cap floor provided at least enough clarity for the Cowboys to reach out to France in late February to re-open talks.
And now, five years after mushrooming from a fourth-round compensatory pick to the record-setting face of the franchise, both he and the Cowboys can focus on building the team around him -- or rather providing him a worthy defense -- instead of heading into the season with a louder round of questions regarding his future in North Texas.
"I believe something will get done, and I believe I'll be a Dallas Cowboy for the rest of my career," he said last July.
It took awhile for it to happen, but the Cowboys finally made it Rayne on Dakota Prescott.
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Finalizing a deal will let Prescott and the Cowboys turn their attention to what really matters: scoring us even more Fantasy points (and maybe winning a Super Bowl along the way). The deal, which makes Prescott the second-highest paid QB (behind only Patrick Mahomes) is right on the money when it comes to Dak's Fantasy production over the last two years. Senior Fantasy Writer Heath Cummings broke down why the move will secure Dallas as one of the most explosive, high-paced offenses once again, so long as Prescott and the O-line are able to stay healthy.
"Prescott leads all quarterbacks with 321.8 passing yards per game since the start of the 2019 season, and that includes Week 5 of the 2020 season when he left early with an injury. He has played 20 complete games with Kellen Moore at offensive coordinator and his 16-game pace is 5,274 passing yards, 290 rushing yards, and 36 total touchdowns.
"At least part of that success is due to Moore's aggressive playcalling. Prescott has averaged 39.9 pass attempts per game under Moore. At the same time, it's impressive he's has been able to average 8.27 yards per attempt with that type of volume. Especially when you consider he only threw 11 interceptions on 638 attempts in those 20 games."