The Cowboys’ two-year negotiation saga with Dak Prescott is over. The team announced it has an extension agreement in place with its five-year starting quarterback.
This will prevent Dallas from having to tag Prescott for a second time, at a $37.7MM price, and give the franchise long-sought-after quarterback security. This deal comes after a few reports indicating increased optimism appeared present in Round 3 of the parties’ negotiations. Such reports turned out to be prescient.
The numbers are in. This is a major win for Prescott. Dallas’ QB1 agreed to a four-year, $160MM contract, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Dak will receive an NFL-record $126MM guaranteed, with Schefter adding that the deal will also includes a $66MM signing bonus and $75MM in Year 1 (Twitter link). The latter figures are also NFL records. This monster accord will come with a no-trade clause and will prevent the Cowboys from tagging Prescott again in 2025, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Incentives could bump the deal to $164MM.
The NFL now has two $40MM-per-year players — Prescott and Patrick Mahomes. While Mahomes’ $45MM-per-year deal is a Chiefs-friendly accord, in that it is a 10-year pact, Prescott’s tops Deshaun Watson‘s contract ($39MM AAV) in terms of traditional quarterback pacts. Prescott’s 2021 cap number will be $22.2MM, Schefter tweets. The Cowboys will use two void years to help with signing bonus proration, Schefter notes (on Twitter).
After haggling with Team Dak for nearly two years, the Cowboys made an aggressive push to finalize this deal Monday, Schefter tweets. The team became more amenable to a shorter-term Prescott pact, per Ed Werder of ESPN.com (on Twitter) this time around. The Cowboys had previously sought a five-year contract for their quarterback; that ended up prompting Prescott to play last season on the tag. The team’s newfound urgency surely stemmed from the March 9 franchise tag deadline.
Prescott, 27, became extension-eligible after the 2018 regular season ended. The former fourth-round pick and Offensive Rookie of the Year played the 2019 season on his rookie deal and played the 2020 slate on the tag. A day ahead of this year’s deadline to designate franchise players, the sides concluded this arduous process. By avoiding the $37MM-plus payment clogging up their cap, the Cowboys will have more free agency funds. It took an incredible financial commitment to do so.
When Prescott first became eligible for an extension, the NFL had not seen a player land a $35MM-AAV pact. Russell Wilson did so in April 2019. No $40MM-per-year player emerged until Mahomes’ summer 2020 extension. By moving into a third offseason of negotiations, Prescott was able to secure a tremendous agreement — compared to where these negotiations started. And he did so after suffering a brutal ankle injury last October. Prescott underwent a second surgery in December but is expected to be ready for training camp. The Cowboys’ inability to compete without Prescott last season may only have increased their QB’s leverage.
A two-time Pro Bowler, Prescott is not held in the same esteem as Mahomes or Watson. But Kirk Cousins was certainly not viewed as a top-tier quarterback when he secured a then-record $28MM-per-year contract in 2018. Cousins used the two-tag scenario to pave a path out of Washington; the Cowboys paid up to stop Prescott from following such a route.
The Cowboys must now build a competitive roster around this contract. They spent much of 2019 and ’20 authorizing extensions for core players; they now have Prescott locked down. The team will be banking on the next round of TV deals producing significant cap spikes in the near future — a matter on which Jerry Jones is well informed. That coming to pass would help the organization assemble a strong team around Prescott going forward.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.