CeeDee Lamb Expected To Hold Out; Cowboys Not Looking To Set Market On Extensions

Talks between the Cowboys and CeeDee Lamb are expected to pick up this summer. The All-Pro wide receiver is in a contract year, but so is Dak Prescott. Although Micah Parsons seems fine with his extension talks coming next year, a recent rumor pointed to the Cowboys placing Prescott above Lamb in their extension queue.

Prescott certainly took his time maximizing his leverage during his first round of negotiations, which spanned three offseasons, and the standout quarterback carries considerable leverage this time around. Dak’s situation holding up Lamb’s could be tricky for the Cowboys, who are facing the likelihood of three players pushing for position-record extensions. If no extension comes, Lamb should be expected to test the team in the way Zack Martin did last year.

[RELATED: Micah Parsons Expects To Become Highest-Paid Non-QB]

Lamb is not expected to show for training camp unless he has an extension in place, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins. This would not be a stunning move, as the fifth-year wideout skipped minicamp.

Of course, that drew barely a $100K fine. Players who skip training camp are subject to $50K fines for each day missed. Nick Bosa, however, provided a blueprint to such a road not costing a player in the hold-in era. Bosa held out, but the 49ers waived his fines. Teams are no longer allowed to waive fines for players, per the 2020 CBA, but an exception exists for players on rookie contracts. Lamb qualifies, as he is tied to a fifth-year option.

The Cowboys were unable to waive Martin’s fines during his 2023 holdout, but the team buckled and turned the final two years of his contract into a fully guaranteed agreement. Martin received $36.85MM guaranteed last summer. Lamb is likely angling for a contract at or very close to the Justin Jefferson level. Considering the Vikings gave Jefferson $26MM more in guaranteed money than any other wide receiver and $36MM more fully guaranteed than any wideout secured, the Cowboys have a complicated negotiation coming.

Cowboys officials have said they do not want to set markets with their extensions, Watkins adds. That may be an issue due to the leverage and/or caliber of players with whom they will negotiate. Progress remains elusive in talks with Prescott and Lamb.

Prescott cannot be franchise-tagged or traded, and after another restructure, the Cowboys would face a $40.1MM dead money bill if they do not extend him by the start of the 2025 league year. The Cowboys are preparing to make a strong offer, but Prescott played hardball during his first round of negotiations. It would surprise if the eighth-year vet did not bring forth a similar plan, especially as the QB market has hit $55MM per year ($15MM north of Dak’s AAV), this time around.

A contract that bridges the gap between the guarantees Jefferson and A.J. Brown secured would be sensible for the Cowboys, though they undoubtedly could have signed Lamb for cheaper had they done a deal in 2023. Dallas has received criticism for delays with Lamb and Prescott, and if Parsons negotiations do commence in 2025, he will be in a contract year as well. While the Cowboys have acted early on extensions (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Ezekiel Elliott), they have not done so for a first-rounder in five years.

Jefferson secured $110MM guaranteed, topping Brown’s previous WR standard of $84MM. Tyreek Hill‘s $52.5MM guarantee at signing held the WR lead until Jefferson’s whopping $88.7MM number surfaced. The Cowboys have never guaranteed a receiver more than $40MM at signing, and they escaped the other $20MM guaranteed in Amari Cooper‘s deal by trading him to the Browns.

A Lamb payday factored into that trade, with Jerry Jones citing the elder WR’s contract as the reason for the trade. Lamb, 25, has taken off since Cooper’s exit, though the Cowboys have run into some trouble finding consistent receiving help over the past two seasons.

Lamb said in January he wanted to become the NFL’s highest-paid receiver. Three receivers — Jefferson, Brown, Amon-Ra St. Brown — have since raised the bar, bringing good news for the Oklahoma alum. The Cowboys have one of the trickier contract gluts in recent memory. If they stick to extending Prescott first, Lamb’s resolve will be tested if/once a holdout commences.

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