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Prescott signed his franchise tender worth $31.409 million in 2020, but there hasn’t been much in the way of noise on the two parties ironing out a long-term pact that would prevent him from playing on that tag ahead of the July 15 deadline.
In fact, things appear in a holding pattern with little time left on the clock, according to the Dallas Morning News‘ Calvin Watkins:
Not that a stalemate is surprising at this point in the wake of the Kansas City Chiefs giving star passer Patrick Mahomes a 10-year contract that could be worth up to $450 million, which could fully reset the quarterback market.
Jerry Jones’ front office doesn’t sound too concerned about Prescott playing on the tag in 2020 regardless based on a recent SportsCenter appearance by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:
“I’m told the Cowboys are not worried right now. They’re going to play this all the way up to the deadline, and they’re hopeful that Dak Prescott will take their latest, best offer. Whether that’s a new offer at the deadline or their old offer because they didn’t hash anything out a few months ago. It’s been very quiet since then, to the point where several league sources believe that nothing’s going to get done here because Dak already signed his franchise tag tender. It’s maybe conceding that nothing’s going to get done, but the Cowboys feel they’re in a good spot. They’re prepared for him to play under the franchise tag if necessary. Dak wants almost a bulletproof contract, solid four-year structure.”
Todd Archer of ESPN also reported Monday the two sides don’t have any plans to have more talks before the deadline.
Like prior rumors, the sticking point between the two parties is likely the length of an extension, not actual annual values. Back in March, Watkins reported a Cowboys offer checked in at $33 million per year but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk again confirmed in June that Prescott wants a four-year pact while the Cowboys want longer.
A shorter contract might make sense from a player perspective for several reasons. One, going into 2020 especially, it’s unknown how future salary caps will be impacted by an unorthodox season. And two, a five-year deal with the Cowboys could easily turn into six or more via uses of measures like…franchise tags.
Speaking of tags, while it doesn’t provide Prescott with long-term security, his going the Kirk Cousins-route and cashing-in on multiple tags perhaps isn’t the worst alternative:
And Prescott is the type of franchise-altering player the Cowboys would indeed need to tag multiple times if no long-term agreement comes to fruition. Even while things floundered around him to the tune of an 8-8 season last year, he completed 65.1 percent of his passes with 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions. He’s a career 65.8 percent passer who graded at 80.1 at Pro Football Focus last year and boasts a 40-24 record.
Dallas can’t afford to punch the reset button under center, especially considering Prescott was a gem of a fourth-round find. That presumably gives the passer some leverage in this scenario, as the Cowboys and their roughly $10.5 million in cap space with massive contracts doled out to the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and Jaylon Smith presumably can’t afford to pay up on a second tag.
Another mark in the “Prescott leverage” column could be his possible 2020 production. He’ll have the usual suspects like Elliott and Amari Cooper around him but within the confines of a new approach from a fresh coaching staff and the addition of first-round wideout CeeDee Lamb. An uptick in numbers could mean more negotiating room for Prescott to ask for more cash.
It all translates to a scenario where it isn’t hard to see the Cowboys making a notable final offer right at the deadline in the hopes of avoiding worrying about these details again after the season. But from Prescott’s perspective, there appears to be plenty of incentive to play 2020 on the tag unless the marriage of contract length and money is just right.