While much of the discussion surrounding Dak Prescott‘s next contract has been focused on AAV and guaranteed money, the length of the contract is also of particular interest to the quarterback. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports (via Twitter) that the Cowboys quarterback may prefer a short-term deal.
As Fowler explains, there’s an expectation that the salary cap will see a significant jump thanks to an extra week of the regular season plus newfound gambling money. Therefore, Prescott is looking to hit free agency again so he can capitalize on that adjustment to the cap, and that means he might prefer a two- or three-year pact.
This is a bit different than how the Cowboys normally operate, as the front office has traditionally handed out longer contracts to their key players. We saw that last year when they signed EzekielElliott to a six-year agreement, and we also saw it when the inked AmariCooper to a five-year deal earlier this offseason.
We heard last week that there was a belief that Prescott would emerge from negotiations as the NFL’s highest-paid player. From an average-annual-value standpoint, the 26-year-old could still accomplish that. Russell Wilson‘s $35MM-AAV deal remains the NFL’s high-water mark. If Prescott plays next season under the franchise tag, he’ll be making around $33MM per year.
The Cowboys have re-entered negotiations with their franchise quarterback, and Dak Prescott‘s patient strategy may be about to pay off.
A Prescott extension is not yet imminent, but a source informed ESPN.com’s Ed Werder the Cowboys quarterback will exit these talks as the NFL’s highest-paid player (Twitter link). These talks are not contentious, per Werder, who adds that since the NFL has postponed teams’ offseason programs, no team deadline exists to conclude these discussions.
Prescott turned down the Cowboys’ $33MM-per-year offer — one that came with $105MM guaranteed — and is now franchise-tagged for around $33MM. Russell Wilson‘s $35MM-AAV deal remains the NFL’s high-water mark. Wilson signed that deal last April. A Prescott price in the $35MM-AAV range surfaced Wednesday night.
The Cowboys have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement with Prescott. If the sides cannot finalize a deal by then, he will play under the exclusive tag. This process has gone on for over a year now. The Cowboys have extended both Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper, clearing the way for a Prescott tag.
While no one would logically argue Prescott is the NFL’s best quarterback, he has exerted leverage well over the past several months. Prescott bet on himself in a contract year, and he’s now negotiating under a new CBA. This and the NFL’s next round of TV deals are likely to produce bigger salary cap spikes in the coming years. The Cowboys’ price for Prescott would then set the market for Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, with the latter possessing the ability to reshape the quarterback salary spectrum when that time comes.
There has never been any doubt that Prescott would be under center for the Cowboys for the foreseeable future, but negotiations between player and team have moved at a snail’s pace. There was talk just before the 2019 regular season that a deal was imminent, but Prescott’s hot start to the season reportedly made him more inclined to play out the year in the hopes of landing a fatter contract. Around the time of this year’s scouting combine, Dallas put forth an offer with an average annual value of roughly $33.5MM, but that proposal didn’t gain much traction.
One of the holdups has been the Cowboys’ desire to have Prescott sign a longer-term pact, while the QB is shooting for a shorter deal that will allow him to hit free agency sooner. Per Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, Dallas is still pushing for a five-year contract (Twitter link), but Yahoo’s Liz Loza hears that a four-year deal worth $35MM per year is in the offing (Twitter link).
That would be a huge win for Prescott, as it would give him the term and the dollars that he has been seeking. The two-time Pro Bowler has his detractors, but he has clearly established himself as a quality QB who may not have hit his ceiling just yet.
The Cowboys have brought back Prescott’s top target, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and though the team lost center Travis Frederick to retirement, the O-line should still be a strength.
The Cowboys have placed exclusive franchise tag on Dak Prescott, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). This move means that no other team will be allowed to negotiate with him, which has pros and cons for the QB.
Under the traditional non-exclusive tag, Prescott would have been able to talk with other clubs that would potentially be willing to cough up a pair of first-round picks for the right to sign him. On the flipside, the exclusive tag would pay Prescott at the average of the league’s top-five salaries for the 2020 season. With the non-exclusive tag, it would have been the top-five average of last year.
The non-exclusive tag would have come at $26.8MM. With the exclusive version, the number should be somewhere around $31.6MM.
The Cowboys’ long-term negotiations with Prescott have been going on for some time and there was talk just before the season that the two sides were nearing a deal. Since then, the Cowboys haven’t made much progress in bridging the gap, though Jerry Jones & Co. have said repeatedly that they would keep him, one way or another.
With Prescott cuffed for the 2020 season, the Cowboys will turn their attention to finalizing a long-term deal with star receiver Amari Cooper. A new deal for Cooper won’t come cheap, though the depth of this year’s WR class in the draft may work to the Cowboys’ favor. Teams, in theory, could keep a lid on their offers with an eye on finding cheaper and younger receiving talent in April. Cooper’s camp is acutely aware of this scenario – even if they won’t admit it publicly.
In 2019, Cooper registered 79 receptions for 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 10 receiver in the NFL. Meanwhile, Prescott threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns and turned in an electric first half to the season.
March 11: There is no “new” contract offer to Prescott, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link). While the Cowboys’ latest offer does indeed represent an increase over the $33MM/year proposal they put forth in the early stages of the 2019 season, the revised offer was made around the time of this year’s combine and is now several weeks old. That suggests that the offer has not gained any traction and that there is still a large gap to bridge.
And the gap may not just be money-related. Rapoport, echoing reports we’ve heard previously, says that Prescott is likely targeting a four-year deal so he can get back to free agency sooner, while the Cowboys would prefer a longer arrangement.
March 9: Barely 72 hours remain until Thursday’s deadline for teams to designate franchise and transition players. The Cowboys are on the clock, and they are reigniting a push to extend Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys have submitted a new proposal to Prescott, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. Terms are not clear, but Archer notes that Prescott turned down Dallas’ $33MM-per-year offer and that this one is likely in the Aaron Rodgers–Jared Goff range. It is indeed an increased offer, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter).
Dallas has offered Prescott $105MM guaranteed. While that is not the guarantee at signing, it would land fourth among quarterbacks. Prescott, however, has some additional leverage now. The Cowboys have just three days left with the franchise or transition tag to use on Amari Cooper. They have met with both Prescott and Cooper’s agents twice since the Combine, but if the CBA is ratified this week, teams can only use one tag. Cooper, then, would be in line to negotiate with other teams when the legal tampering period opens March 16.
The looming TV deals, should this CBA be finalized, are also expected to produce bigger cap spikes. Prescott’s camp may not be eager to do a deal before more of the NFL’s 2020s financial landscape becomes clear. If the Cowboys cannot get a deal done with Prescott by March 12, they are prepared to use the exclusive franchise tag on him. If the sides cannot agree on terms by July 15, Prescott would play the season on that $31MM-plus number.
The Seahawks could be adding to their backfield soon. Seattle is still interested in veteran running back Alex Collins, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Seahawks worked out Collins back in January, but didn’t end up signing him at the time. Of course there is plenty of familiarity here, as Collins started his career with the Seahawks back in 2016. A fifth-round pick out of Arkansas, Collins was waived after a rookie season where he played sparingly. He signed with Baltimore, and ended up having a breakout 2017 season with the Ravens.
He became their full-time starter, racking up 973 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games. He again operated as their starter for much of the 2018 season, but a foot injury cut his year short. He was arrested in March of last year and waived by the Ravens shortly after. He received a three-game suspension from the league, and spent all of 2019 out of football. Still only 25 he should resurface somewhere for 2020, and it sounds like there’s a good chance it’s with the Seahawks.
Things continue to inch forward with the Cowboys and their pair of superstar impending free agents. The Cowboys met with Dak Prescott‘s agent for the first time since the start of the 2019 season last week, and they met for a second time this past week, a source told Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News. While there appears to be some momentum gathering, it also doesn’t sound like anything is particularly close, as Watkins writes everything is in a “holding pattern” as both sides await a resolution on the new CBA. Watkins writes that Dallas also met with receiver Amari Cooper‘s reps for a second time. Watkins reiterated his earlier report that the Cowboys have offered Prescott an annual salary of $33MM with $105MM in guarantees. It’s likely going to take a lot more than that to get a deal done.
The Buccaneers have made a minor addition to Bruce Arians’ coaching staff. Tampa has hired Keith Tandy as their new special teams assistant, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). As Auman points out it’s a familiar name, since Tandy spent six years with the Bucs as a player from 2012-17. The former safety from West Virginia spent some time with the Falcons in 2018 before hanging up his cleats.
We’ve been hearing for months that if the Cowboys couldn’t agree to a long-term extension with DakPrescott, then they’d slap the quarterback with the franchise tag. We now have more clarity on their plan, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the organization would opt for the exclusive franchise tag (via NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman).
This path would provide benefits and negatives for Prescott. For negatives, the quarterback wouldn’t have the ability to negotiate with other teams (whereas under the traditional, non-exclusive tag, he could leave town if another team was willing to pony up a pair of first-rounders). The benefit? While the non-exclusive tag accounts for the top-five salaries at a respective position over the past five years, the exclusive tag accounts for the top-five salaries at a respective position for the upcoming season.
As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes, that current exclusive-tag quarterback value would be around $31.62MM. However, the number isn’t set in stone until the end of April, so it could easily fluctuate between now and then. For comparison’s sake, the non-exclusive quarterback tag is estimated to be around $27MM for the upcoming season.
This also provides some leverage in Prescott’s talks with the organization. The quarterback could sit on his ~$32MM salary for 2020, and then if he’s slapped with the tag again, he’d be in line to make close to $38MM in 2021.
We learned earlier this week that Cowboys officials met with Prescott’s agent, Todd France. It was the first time the two sides had met since the start of the 2019 season.
We previously heard that the Cowboys were willing to offer their franchise quarterback a contract that would pay him around $33MM per season, while Prescott was seeking a contract that was closer to Russell Wilson‘s $35MM/year. However, Watkins notes that the two sides seem to also be debating guaranteed money, and the reporter notes that the organization offered the 26-year-old a deal that included more than $100MM in guaranteed money (on the flip side, sources close to Prescott disputed that the organization “offered guarantees reaching $105 million.”)
Watkins also notes that team officials are hoping Prescott will take note of the contract negotiations with DeMarcusLawrence, SeanLee, TonyRomo and DeMarcusWare; those players personally reached out to Jerry Jones or Stephen Jones before inking a new deal. While the officials cautioned that they wouldn’t want Dak to go behind his agent’s back, a source believes that “if Prescott would call one of the Joneses, a deal could be completed.”
While Prescott is set to become a free agent, the Cowboys won’t let him explore the open market. If the two sides can’t agree to a new deal, the organization will surely slap the quarterback with the ~$27MM franchise tag. In that scenario, they could negotiate a long-term deal into the summer, and they can always revisit talks following the 2020 campaign.
The two-time Pro Bowler threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. For his career, he’s gone 40-24 in 64 starts with a 65.8% completion rate and 97 touchdowns vs. 36 interceptions.
There Cowboys have not met or negotiated with Dak Prescott‘s agent since the start of the 2019 season, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones says (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of The Athletic). There could be some conversation with Prescott’s rep Todd France at the combine, but nothing has been scheduled just yet.
When those talks were active, the Cowboys were reportedly willing to go to $33MM/year on a long-term deal. That was probably in the right ballpark, but Prescott’s camp aimed higher as he got off to a blazing start in 2019. The QB could have been targeting the $35MM average annual value of Russell Wilson‘s deal. Even though the Cowboys slumped in the second half, Prescott’s camp may still look to use that contract as a reference point.
Technically speaking, Prescott is scheduled to become a free agent in less than a month. Realistically, there’s no scenario in which the Cowboys will allow him to explore the open market. If a long-term deal doesn’t materialize, the Cowboys are expected to use the ~$27MM franchise tag to cuff him for the 2020 season. After that, the Cowboys can negotiate a long-term deal with Prescott up until the mid-summer deadline. And, if July comes and goes without a new agreement, the two sides can revisit talks after the 2020 campaign.
Jones pretty much confirmed that plan when he spoke with reporters on Monday.
“Absolutely not,” Jones said when asked if there’s any chance of parting ways with Prescott (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Todd Archer). “I mean, Dak’s our quarterback. He’s our quarterback for the future and we have nothing but the greatest respect for him. He’s a competitor. He’s won a lot of football games for us. Obviously, he, like us, we all want to take that next step and get into a championship game and get to the big game and ultimately win a championship. So there’s no thoughts like that.”
Prescott, a two-time Pro Bowler, threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2019. For his career, he’s got 40-24 in 64 starts with a 65.8% completion rate and 97 TDs against 36 INTs.
February 12th, 2020 at 4:29pm CST by Marc Delucchi
As teams gear up for an offseason of roster maneuvering, teams are beginning to the arduous process of lining up their salary caps to retain key players on expiring contracts, sign free agents, and their draft picks. Teams are forced to make especially difficult salary-cap decisions when they have a chance at an elite player through free agency.
While many of the top players currently set for free agency will surely sign an extension with their current team or receive either the franchise or transition tag, it is always a fun exercise to examine who is currently the best player set to be available through unrestricted free agency.
Brady has obviously asserted himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time over his Patriots career, but he will be 43 before the start of next season and looked abnormally average at the close of this season. New England finished the season with back-to-back losses to finish out the regular season (against the 5-11 Dolphins) and in the first round of the playoffs (at home against the Titans).
Brady played a role in both losses, completing just 36 of his 66 attempts (good for a 54.5% completion percentage) for 430 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. At the same time, Brady amassed over 4,000 passing yards for the third consecutive season and produced his best touchdown-to-interception ratio (24 to 8) since 2017.
Brees is in a similar boat. He’ll be 41 next season, but just led the league in completion percentage for the third consecutive season and posted the best touchdown-to-interception ratio of his career. With that said, the Saints did not look much different in the 5 games Brees missed early in the season with backup Teddy Bridgewater in his place.
Prescott has been surrounded by the hoopla of quarterbacking America’s Team, but the Cowboys signal-caller has taken consistent strides under the bright lights. At just 26 last season, Prescott fell just 98 yards shy of reaching the 5000-yard mark. He set a career-high with 30 touchdown throws and even while throwing a career-high 596 attempts, was sacked a career-low 23 times.
Of course, unlike Brees and Brady, Prescott has yet to reach the historic status they both already have. In fact, Prescott has yet to play in a conference championship game. Furthermore, his career year this season came while Dallas struggled to an 8-8 record in a wide-open NFC East. Does he deserve credit for performing despite a difficult surrounding, or was he responsible for the team’s struggles?
Finally, one of the most interesting stories of the season surrounded the quarterback position in Tennessee. Many around the league scoffed when the Titans benched Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill. It seemed like they were just replacing one disappointing quarterback with another. However, the once highly regarded prospect led the Titans to a 7-3 surge to close the regular season, upset the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs, and almost upset the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
Tannehill threw for 2742 yards in just 10 regular season starts, throwing 22 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. He led the league in yards per attempt (9.6) and quarterback rating (117.5) while helping young wideout A.J. Brown emerge as one of the best receivers in football. However, it’s fair to wonder how much of Tannehill’s success was a side-effect of a fantastic run game (led by Derrick Henry) and his receivers (like Brown). With the shortest resume of the group, Tannehill surely represents the largest risk but may have one of the highest rewards.
With all that said, what do you think? Who is the best unrestricted free agent quarterback this offseason? Submit your answer in the poll below and voice in your opinion in the comments.