Dak Prescott’s contract said: Cowboys weigh on doubling the franchise day versus doing a long run deal
The clock is ticking again so the Cowboys can sign quarterback Dak Prescott. The two-week time window for applying for Franchise Day for the upcoming NFL free agent opened in 2021, with March 9 being the deadline for Dallas if so desired.
Prescott played under the exclusive title last season, earning a guaranteed $ 31.4 million. If the Cowboys tag him again this year, that number would rise 20 percent to $ 37.7 million.
However, the Cowboys and Prescott would prefer to strike a long-term deal to keep him under contract through another season and secure more overall guaranteed money in relation to the top of the QB market.
Here’s a look at how Dallas is positioned to go both ways with Prescott’s contract:
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What is the cowboys’ salary cap for signing Dak Prescott?
The NFL-wide salary cap will have a lower limit of $ 180 million for teams, with an upper limit that is not much higher. Right now, the Cowboys are in pretty good shape, ranking 12th in the league with around $ 19 million.
Even so, they can’t afford to mark Prescott at $ 37.7 million without restructuring the contracts and exempting players from their deals.
Your most logical source of savings would be to designate linebacker Jaylon Smith as a June 1st cut after a shaky season. That would mean additional relief of $ 7.2 million. The Cowboys can do this to two players, which should also make them think about the aging of the left left tackle against Tyron Smith. You could get another $ 10.5 million back there.
That would bring Dallas to about $ 36.7 million in two moves, which means the tag works out on Prescott by cutting off another player. If they want to keep Tyron Smith and still have enough room for the cap, they can cut cornerback Anthony Brown, punter Chris Jones, defensive end Randy Gregory, tight end Blake Jarwin and some players with Jaylon Smith.
The Cowboys would be forced to make some tough decisions with fellow veterans in the process of tagging Prescott, and would also be left with no space to do anything else on the free hand, either with their own or outside players.
What a second franchise day for Dak Prescott
A second straight day isn’t bad from Prescott’s point of view. That would mean he’s made $ 69.1 million in guaranteed money in two years, and the Cowboys would still have shown confidence in him as an elite, enduring QB despite an ankle injury that limited his 2020 season to five games.
This would be the Kirk Cousins scenario from Washington, which is back at work. Cousins have been listed as a non-exclusive franchise player in consecutive offseasons, guaranteeing $ 20 million in 2016 and increasing 20 percent to $ 24 million in 2017. A third day out of Washington would have increased its value 44 percent to $ 34.6 million in 2018, ensuring it would hit the free hand.
Cousins were signed by the Vikings for $ 84 million for three years, all guaranteed. From ’16 until its extension in ’20, Cousins were awarded a five-year contract worth $ 128 million, all guaranteed.
Cousins ”bet on themselves” and hit the jackpot. Prescott may have been careful trying to do the same after his ankle surgery, but before injuring himself against the Giants, he started and finished every game healthy for four and a half seasons since entering the league as the fourth round draft pick of the year 2016.
If Prescott is re-tagged in 2021, its tag value would rise to $ 54.4 million in 2022, well above the top of the QB market. That would force either the Cowboys or some other team to give him a high-end long-term deal, assuming he has a sustained and productive comeback season.
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What would Dak Prescott’s contract with the Cowboys look like?
Prescott reportedly wants a shorter deal. So think more of Deshaun Watson’s four-year span ($ 156 million) than Patrick Mahomes’ ten-year span ($ 450 million). Both QBs of the first round of 2017 signed their mega-deals at the end of last summer just before the 2020 season.
Mahomes averaged $ 45 million per season and received a $ 63 million guarantee on signing, with a total of more than $ 141.5 million guaranteed. Watson averaged $ 39 million per season, with $ 73 million guaranteed at signing and a total of $ 110.7 million guaranteed.
Prescott already has a $ 31.4 million one-year guarantee, so essentially a four-year contract would serve as an extension. Since this is significantly lower as the average annual salary compared to the best on the market, don’t be surprised if Prescott grows to an average of $ 40 million per season, or a total of $ 160 million per season, over a four year period .
That would be reflected in five years’ time, $ 191.4 million including 2020, which is the true average of $ 38.3 million, which seems correct as it’s a little more than what Prescott is on in 2021 would bring the market.
Watson’s contract gives the Cowboys a great way to structure Prescotts. About $ 75 million guaranteed at signing and a total of $ 115 million guaranteed would make very good sense considering the total value of $ 160 million.
With Watson’s extension, the Texans reduced his initial cap hit to $ 9.8 million in 2020 and $ 15.9 million in 2021 if he stayed on the team. The contract won’t jump to over $ 40 million from the cap until 2022 and 2023. The cowboys can create a similar short-term flexibility with their upper limit and stay out of any kind of bond.
Bottom line, re-tagging Prescott wouldn’t be the worst for the Cowboys, but having done it once as the easiest fix in 2020, it would be much better if they finalized the long-term contract before March 9th. Otherwise, they could be dangerously close to getting Prescott on the open market in the NFL Free Agency.