Dak Prescott

Extra Points: Watson, Tagovailoa, Prescott

The Houston Texans are at a crossroads as an organization. After surprisingly firing Bill O’Brien toward the beginning of the year they were left without a head coach and GM. Romeo Crennel and Jack Easterby have taken over those roles on an interim basis, but the franchise is currently in a bit of a rut and lacking direction. They’re also without a lot of draft picks, including their first-rounder next April, due to trades O’Brien made. As they look to dig themselves out of that mess, owner Cal McNair is apparently leaving no stone unturned.

McNair recently had dinner with quarterback Deshaun Watson, the one thing the team has going for them at the moment, and he picked his brain about what he’d like to see moving forward, McNair told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Schefter writes that “McNair wanted to hear Watson’s thoughts and opinions on who should be the next head coach.” Assuming Watson gets legit input, it would be relatively safe to assume the Texans will target an offensive mind. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy is sure to be a hot name, although there are plenty of other offensive minds as well.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Tua Tagovailoa‘s honeymoon as the Dolphins’ quarterback came to an end Sunday in a loss to the Broncos. Tagovailoa struggled mightily during the defeat, and was pulled for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Speaking after the game, head coach Brian Flores confirmed Tagovailoa did not have an injury and was benched for performance. That being said, Flores also wasted no time declaring that his rookie will be his starter next week, meaning we’ll have to wait again for our first dose of Fitzmagic. Tagovailoa was 11/20 for only 83 yards before getting pulled during the loss, which snapped Miami’s five-game winning streak. He’ll have a get-right spot against the Jets next week.
  • Fortunately, we’ve got another positive update to pass along on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Appearing on the radio Friday, team EVP Stephen Jones said he’s been getting “amazing reports” from doctors on Prescott’s status, via Jon Machota of The Athletic. “Shouldn’t come as any surprise,” Jones said. “He does everything to the nines and the 10s and he just does it the very best. He’s been so diligent in his rehab and that shouldn’t surprise anybody. They said if anything he’s ahead of schedule and rolling. That should come as no surprise. So we expect him to have a full recovery.” Jones also reiterated that Prescott avoided any infections, which can sometimes occur with compound fractures. Everything continues to look good for Prescott’s chances of being ready for Week 1 of 2021.
  • Let’s wrap things up with some punter news. Veteran specialist Jon Ryan has been working out and has drawn interest from teams recently, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. Ryan is 38 now but clearly has no plans of hanging up his cleats. Pelissero notes he led the CFL in gross punting average last season. He most notably spent ten years as the Seahawks’ punter from 2008-17.

Cowboys Notes: Prescott, McCarthy, Dalton

The Cowboys are in the midst of a truly disastrous campaign, entering their bye week at a pitiful 2-7. Just about everything that could’ve gone wrong has gone wrong, including a devastating injury to quarterback Dak Prescott. Team EVP Stephen Jones spoke to the media today, and fortunately he had some positive news about Prescott. Jones revealed the signal-caller had avoided any infections in his leg, a distinct and scary possibility with any compound fracture, like we saw with Alex Smith. Jones also declared that Prescott was “ahead of schedule” in his recovery.

That’s all fantastic news, and of course all of us here at PFR continue to hope that’s the case. As for the future, Jones was asked about the possibility of the Cowboys drafting one of this class’ top quarterbacks assuming Dallas has an early pick, which looks likely at this point. Jerry’s son shot down any such speculation, reiterating that “Dak’s our quarterback” and saying “we’re fired up about our future with Dak.” Prescott is of course set to be an unrestricted free agent, and his contract situation is arguably the biggest story of the rapidly approaching NFL offseason.

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Speaking of shooting down speculation, Jones clearly wanted to tamp down any talk about Mike McCarthy’s job security. “Absolutely. Unequivocal,” Jones responded when asked whether McCarthy will definitely be back as the team’s head coach in 2021. When he was hired it would’ve been hard to imagine he could be a one and done, but there have already been reports of dysfunction in the locker room and McCarthy potentially losing the team. The Jones family has been steadfast in their commitment to him however, and this is about as firm as one can get.
  • Former AAF star Garrett Gilbert came off the bench as the Cowboys’ fourth starter at quarterback this season and almost led them to an improbable upset over the Steelers Sunday, but it doesn’t sound like he’s on the verge of getting the full-time starting job. “When he’s cleared, we fully expect him to step in as our starter,” Jones said of Andy Dalton, who has been dealing with a concussion as well as COVID-19. Dalton struggled mightily through one and a half games before getting hurt, and since the team has no real long-term commitment to him it wouldn’t be surprising if they went back to Gilbert before too long if Dalton plays poorly again out of the bye. Gilbert didn’t exactly light it up, but he moved the offense competently against one of the best defenses in the league. For his part, Jones insisted the team still feels like they’ve got a shot to win the lowly NFC East.

East Notes: Cowboys, Prescott, Jets, Gase

Dak Prescott is obviously out for the season with his brutal ankle injury, and speculation immediately turned to his future with the Cowboys due to the fact that he’s set to be a free agent at the end of the year. Prescott and the front office have been in a stalemate over his contract for a while, and the injury only further complicates things. Despite the lack of commitment, team VP Stephen Jones emphatically shot down any talk of parting ways during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan on Monday, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

“Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. He’s our future. He’s special. If anyone can overcome anything, it would be Dak,” Jerry’s son said when asked if anything had changed in regard to Prescott being their quarterback of the future. Of course there’s not much else Jones could say the day after such a serious injury, but the strength of the assertion is still notable. The Cowboys certainly don’t seem like they have any intention of letting Prescott leave town, although of course a lot could change between now and next season. Meanwhile Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that a source told him last night that Prescott’s surgery went “very well,” and was performed by the highly regarded foot and ankle doctor Gene Curry, who was brought in by the team’s orthopedist.

Here’s more from the league’s eastern divisions:

  • While things may seem pretty bleak for the Cowboys right now with their mounting injuries, we do have a dash of good news to pass along. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who broke his collarbone in the team’s opening loss to the Rams, appears to be nearing a return, according to Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Vander Esch has apparently been ramping up his activity, and returned to padded practice late last week. The initial timeframe on his injury was 6-8 weeks, and Hill writes that head coach Mike McCarthy says he’s ahead of schedule. It sounds like Vander Esch has a chance to return for Dallas’ upcoming Monday Night Football game against the Cardinals, and their struggling defense could certainly use him.
  • The Jets are now 0-5 on the year, and after watching two of his fellow winless head coaches get canned, it looks like Adam Gase is considering major changes. At his presser Monday Gase said he has “toyed” with the idea of giving up play-calling responsibilities on offense, and that “everything is on the table at this point,” via Connor Hughes of The Athletic (Twitter link). Running backs coach Jim Bob Cooter, who was the Lions’ offensive coordinator recently, and OC Dowell Loggains would be the natural candidates to hand off to. Gase has always called the plays during his head coaching career, so this would be a huge change for him.
  • Jets pass-catchers have been dropping like flies this season, and another one is about to hit the shelf. Gase revealed during the same presser that Chris Hogan suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday and will be out for a while, Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets. The former Patriots deep threat is in his first season with New York and has been playing an increased role due to all the injuries. He’s had at least three catches in each of the past two weeks and had six for 75 yards back in Week 2. Fortunately for the Jets, they should be getting fellow receiver Breshad Perriman back soon from his own ankle injury.

Dak Prescott Carted Off With Ankle Injury

Well that was awful to see. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had to be carted off with an ankle injury in the third quarter of their game against the Giants. The team quickly announced that he had been transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. Prescott will undergo surgery on the ankle tonight, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The specific injury is a right ankle compound fracture with dislocation, Jane Slate of NFL Network tweets.

It looked gruesome, as Prescott’s ankle appeared to snap and his foot was temporarily pointed in the wrong direction. It’s obviously impossible to say for sure right now, but it certainly looked like Prescott’s season could be over. If that’s the case, needless to say it’s a brutal blow to a Dallas team that had Super Bowl aspirations entering the year. It would be even more devastating for Prescott personally, since he’s currently without any long-term financial security.

Prescott of course has been locked in a stalemate with Cowboys management, and is set to become a free agent at the end of the year. In line for a massive extension, hopefully this doesn’t end up hurting his market value too much. Andy Dalton came on in relief, and it looks like he’ll be leading the offense moving forward.

Things were already off to a bad start for the Mike McCarthy era as the Cowboys limped out to a 1-3 record, and Prescott’s heroics were the only things keeping them in games. The defense had been a dumpster fire, but Prescott had at least 450 yards in each of their past three games.

Dallas is lucky to have a competent backup in Dalton who has loads of starting experience, but it’s hard to understate the impact of this loss. Prescott had never missed a game due to injury since taking over for Tony Romo, a streak that will certainly be snapped now.

If Prescott is indeed forced to miss the rest of the year, what the Cowboys do this offseason will be fascinating to watch. Owner Jerry Jones had already seemed reluctant to back up the brinks truck for his young signal-caller, and who knows how he’ll feel about it now.

We heard just a few weeks ago that Prescott had been set to accept the team’s offer of $35MM annually, but negotiations broke down over a disputed provision about franchise tags. In that same report we heard Prescott was expecting to land north of $40MM this offseason. If Dallas elects to franchise Prescott for the second consecutive year this spring, they’ll have to pay him around $38MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Franchise Tag Provision Held Up Dak Prescott Extension

After 18 months of Dak Prescott rumors, the Cowboys quarterback is tethered to his franchise tag salary until 2021. If/when the Cowboys revisit extension talks with their QB1, the negotiating starting point will certainly be different compared to where it was in 2019 and from the $35MM-per-year range in which it resided this summer.

Prescott was ready to accept Dallas’ $35MM-AAV offer in July, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports he wanted a provision in the deal that prevented the Cowboys from tagging him in the offseason after the contract expired. That proved to be a deal-breaker for Jerry Jones.

Jones said Tuesday, when asked about this sticking point, he views the tag as a valuable negotiating tool, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). This is an interesting disagreement, since it refers to a hypothetical negotiation in 2025. Quarterbacks of Prescott’s caliber rarely play out their contracts, but Prescott held firm in 2019 and played out his rookie deal — which ended up raising his price.

A cross-section of NFL executives now view Prescott’s forthcoming price range between $42-$43MM per year, La Canfora adds. That is considerably higher than where it was in 2019, when Prescott became extension-eligible, and where it was in 2020. Even though a record cap reduction could take place next year, the quarterback market has now seen Patrick Mahomes sign for $45MM (over 10 years) and Deshaun Watson raise the conventional QB-contract price to $39MM a year. Lamar Jackson will also be eligible to sign a monster extension by the time the Cowboys can negotiate with Dak again.

The deal Prescott was ready to sign in mid-July included $110MM guaranteed and $70MM in the first two years. At the time, that would have placed Prescott in the top three among guarantees. Watson’s pact includes $111MM guaranteed. Should the Cowboys tag Prescott again in 2021, it would mean a $38MM cap hit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dak Prescott Expects To Remain With Cowboys Long-Term

After more than a year of rumors regarding an extension for Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, the two sides were ultimately unable to come to terms prior to the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players. So Prescott will play out the 2020 season on the tag, and the rumor mill will start churning again in 2021.

However, both player and team have no doubt that Prescott will remain Dallas’ starting signal-caller for the foreseeable future. As Prescott said yesterday, he always dreamed of playing for the Cowboys and continues to expect that he will retire as a member of the team (video link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). “I believe something will get done,” he said (Twitter link via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News).

Likewise, team VP Stephen Jones said he is “more convinced than ever” that a long-term deal will come together (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News). Jones noted that the financial uncertainty created by the pandemic played a part in the failure to hammer out an extension, as did the length of the contract.

That last part is noteworthy. While we had heard for some time that the Cowboys were pushing for a five-year pact and Prescott was angling for a four-year term, a report surfaced immediately after the July 15 deadline suggesting that Prescott wanted to accept Dallas’ final offer, a five-year proposal featuring $110MM in guarantees and $70MM in cash flow over the first two seasons. But that report, from Jane Slater of NFL.com, was refuted by Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, who said the two sides were never closer to an agreement than they were in September 2019.

Assuming the Cowboys and Prescott do get a deal done next year, Dallas brass may regret not finalizing matters last September. A deal then would not have cost Dallas more than $35MM in terms of AAV — and possibly a little less — but Prescott’s projected franchise tag number in 2021 sits at ~$38MM, so that will likely be the starting point for negotiations next year. Plus, while Prescott cannot make a case to land a deal like the one Patrick Mahomes just got from the Chiefs — which seems like an outlier in terms of structure anyway — a Deshaun Watson re-up with the Texans could push Prescott’s asking price even higher.

And with the salary cap likely to decrease in 2021, the Cowboys may have some tough choices to make with respect to the rest of their roster in order to keep Prescott in the fold.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dak Prescott Wanted To Take Cowboys’ Final Offer?

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott will play out the 2020 season on his franchise tender, and reports from yesterday suggested that, despite some some 11th-hour communicating, player and team did not make much progress towards an extension. This was after weeks had gone by without any contract talks at all.

But Jane Slater of the NFL Network says Dallas’ final offer was very much to Prescott’s liking (Twitter link). That offer included an average annual value of $33MM-$35MM, though that is a pretty sizable gap in the context of these negotiations, given that the Cowboys’ best-known prior offer featured an AAV just north of $33MM while Prescott’s camp was pushing for a $35MM+ AAV. However, Dallas’ latest proposal reportedly featured $110MM in guarantees, with a $50MM signing bonus and $70MM over the first two years.

According to Slater, Prescott wanted to get that deal done, but it was simply too close to the 3pm CT deadline to make it happen. And that’s notable, because as Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes, the contract would have been for five years, and the team’s preferred five-year term versus Prescott’s hope for a four-year pact has long been a sticking point between the two sides.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, though, isn’t buying it. Robinson says Prescott and the Cowboys have never been closer to an extension than they were late last summer, and that multiple sources confirmed as much. There was never a middle ground on years, average salary, or guarantees, which means that the two sides will largely be starting from square one when they reconvene next offseason.

And assuming Prescott plays well in 2020, he will almost certainly be tagged again, as it would be surprising for his camp and Dallas to come to terms prior to the franchise tag deadline in March. That tag is projected to have a value just shy of $38MM, which would be a tough pill for Dallas to swallow.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Engaged In Last-Minute Talks With Dak Prescott

Although the Cowboys and Dak Prescott had not discussed a deal in weeks going into Wednesday, the parties did some 11th-hour communicating.

The Cowboys sent “repeated texts” to Prescott on Wednesday, urging the franchise-tagged passer to call executive VP Stephen Jones, Ed Werder of ESPN.com tweets. Prescott did so after discussing the matter with agent Todd France, whom Werder indicates had a separate discussion with Jones.

These talks are not believed to have gone too far, however, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Prescott will be just the third quarterback to play a season on a franchise tag. He will follow Drew Brees (2005) and Kirk Cousins (2016 and ’17) in that regard.

Prescott’s camp has eyed a four-year deal worth more than $35MM annually. Jerry Jones wanted at least a five-year commitment, per usual for Cowboys cornerstone players, and a salary south of $35MM. The best known offer the Cowboys made was one that came in just north of $33MM per year.

Dallas failing to finalize an extension is in step with most of the teams that used their franchise tags this year. Only the Chiefs and Titans came to terms with franchise-tagged players before the deadline. But the Cowboys have succeeded in extending their top talent for years. Just over the past year and change, Dallas signed 2019 franchise player DeMarcus Lawrence months before the tag deadline and extended Ezekiel Elliott to end the running back’s lengthy holdout. Amari Cooper reached free agency, but the Cowboys brought him back soon after.

Prescott being the exception could have significant consequences. Should the Cowboys fail to reach an extension agreement with their quarterback next year, a tag would cost $37.7MM. That coming in a year in which the cap may decline or stay at $198MM will make matters tougher on Dallas than they were for Washington in 2017, when the cap made its usual climb. If this process follows the Cousins-Washington path, Prescott’s tag price would balloon to $54MM in 2022.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys, Dak Prescott Haven’t Had Talks In Weeks

Deadlines tend to spur action, but today’s deadline probably won’t move the needle for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. The two sides are not expected to hammer out an extension by 4pm ET/3pm CT, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

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In fact, the Cowboys haven’t talked with their franchise-tag quarterback in weeks, according to Ed Werder of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Their last chat took place on June 22 – since then, it’s been dead quiet. Barring a major change, Prescott will become just the third quarterback in NFL history to actually play out the season on his franchise tender, joining Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins (twice).

Prescott will earn $31.4MM this year, and the Cowboys won’t be able to resume talks with him until after the season. If Prescott manages to turn in a full season that mirrors his exceptional first-half of 2019, he’ll be in line for an absolute fortune. Next year’s tag would cost the Cowboys $37.7MM, a number that’s basically unworkable for a team that’s already top-heavy in salary. Beyond that, there’s also the possibility of a major NFL-wide cap reduction, though that would impact players in equal measure.

Prescott, 27, has been aiming to top Russell Wilson‘s $35MM-per-year deal. There’s been some chatter about Patrick Mahomes‘ $45MM/year deal working to Prescott’s advantage, but that probably won’t serve as a comp for his camp. Prescott has been seeking a deal on the shorter side and Mahomes’ deal goes for ten years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Talks Scheduled Between Dak, Cowboys

The Cowboys have until 3pm CT Wednesday to finalize an extension with Dak Prescott. Signs continue to indicate that will not happen.

As of Monday afternoon, no talks between the Cowboys and their fifth-year quarterback are scheduled, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes. Deadlines drive action, and the Cowboys have a history of final-minute tag deals. They extended Dez Bryant minutes before the 2015 deadline. But based on the recent consensus and the financial uncertainty COVID-19 has created, Prescott playing 2020 on the tag continues to be the likelier scenario. More urgency was expected leading up to the deadline, Archer adds.

Prescott, whose last known negotiations with the Cowboys occurred in March (per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram), is attached to the $31.4MM exclusive tag. Not much extension optimism has surfaced among this year’s group of tagged performers. None of the 15 players to receive the franchise or transition tag this year have signed an extension.

The NFL and NFLPA remain in talks on how to navigate the 2021 salary cap, which would stand to plummet considerably — due to a season with limited or no attendance — if the sides do not come up with a solution. This has slowed teams’ negotiations.

Should the Cowboys and Prescott not agree to terms, he will join Kirk Cousins as the only quarterbacks to play on the tag in the past 15 seasons. Cousins’ stalemates with Washington led to two tags and free agency. Prescott would be set to earn $37.7MM on a 2021 tag and $54MM in 2022, should this already-lengthy saga reach that point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.