Dak Prescott

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

[RELATED: Latest On Cowboys, Randy Gregory]

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.

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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.

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Odds Against Dak Prescott Extension?

4:46pm, July 12: The latest news coming out of the endless Prescott-Cowboys saga points to the quarterback playing 2020 on the tag as well. Prescott and the Cowboys are not close to reaching an extension agreement by the Wednesday deadline, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

5:42pm, July 11: The Cowboys began extension talks with Dak Prescott in mid-April 2019. Fifteen months later, they have four days to finalize a deal to avoid their quarterback playing the 2020 season on the franchise tag.

While the Cowboys are not worried, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes several league sources do not expect a deal to be finalized (video link). Prescott has signed his $31.4MM franchise tender, and the Cowboys are prepared (if necessary) for their fifth-year quarterback to play the season on the tag.

Prescott has held firm on his goal of a four-year deal, as opposed to the Cowboys’ five-year preference, and nothing has transpired on this front in months. The process is expected to go to the deadline, per Fowler. This reminds of Dallas’ standoff with Dez Bryant, which ended minutes before the 2015 July deadline. Only Prescott’s position brings higher stakes for the Cowboys.

The 27-year-old passer has aimed for a deal that exceeds Russell Wilson‘s $35MM-per-year pact. While Patrick Mahomes is now attached to a $45MM-AAV deal, the Chiefs quarterback’s 10-year agreement may not have too much bearing on Prescott’s situation because of his preference for a short-term deal. That stance will limit the Cowboys’ desire to up his price, and John Clayton of the Washington Post notes Jerry Jones would still like Prescott’s price to come in below the $35MM-AAV mark.

The Cowboys have signed several members of their current core to extensions over the past two years. Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith and Zack Martin all signed for more than four years. Their last known offer to Prescott was worth just more than $33MM annually, putting Prescott in the neighborhood of fellow 2016 draftees Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Prescott turned down a $33MM-per-year proposal last season.

Dallas managed to re-sign Cooper and add several defensive pieces this year, despite Prescott’s tag price going on its books in March. Prescott playing this season on the tag, however, would remind of Kirk Cousins‘ situation in Washington. The current Vikings quarterback played 2016 and ’17 on the tag before leaving Washington as a free agent in 2018. A second Prescott tag would cost the Cowboys $37.7MM next year, when the cap may either decline or remain at $198MM due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s imminent attendance impact. A third tag in 2022 would be at an untenable $54MM-plus.

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Status Of All 15 Tagged Players Prior to July 15 Extension Deadline

The clock is ticking for tagged players to sign extensions with their teams, per the league calendar.

July 15: At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2020 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.

With less than nine days remaining until the deadline, let’s take a look at where each of the 15 tagged players stand.

Already Signed Tag

*Received transition tag (vs. franchise tag)

Haven’t Signed Tag, Won’t Hold Out

Haven’t Signed Tag, Threatening Hold Out

East Notes: Cowboys, Prescott, Patriots, Sanu

Dak Prescott is discussing a long-term deal with the Cowboys, but the patient approach could also pay off for the quarterback. As Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes, Kirk Cousins is in great shape after playing on back-to-back franchise tags with his former club. From 2018-2022, Cousins’ $150MM cash value ranks second overall in the NFL, behind only Aaron Rodgers ($150.95MM). Meanwhile, he tops the chart with his guarantees ($150MM, 100% locked in).

That fact isn’t lost on Prescott, who has rejected offers from the Cowboys in the past. His camp is currently seeking a four-year deal that would make him the league’s highest-paid player on an annual basis with upwards of $35MM per year. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are pushing for a five-year pact.

Here’s more from the East divisions (and, by that, we mean some Pats items):

  •  Mohamed Sanu is “way ahead” of the curve as he returns from ankle surgery, trainer Hilton Alexander tells Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “I would tell you he’s probably faster, quicker, leaner and in better shape now than prior to the surgery,” Alexander said. “I would say he’s way ahead of any doctor’s knowledge or prediction where he would have been at this point. Way ahead of the curve.” With a healthy Sanu – plus Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and a solid supporting cast – the Pats can stand pat at WR.
  • If the NFL salary cap is reduced next year due to a revenue decrease, it could work to the Patriots‘ advantage. As Tom Curran of NBC Sports explains, the Pats currently have $124MM committed to 55 players in 2021. If the cap falls from $198MM, most teams will be left scrambling to shed expensive contracts. The Patriots, on the other hand, would be in good shape and able to scoop up those available vets.
  • Jamal Adams wants out, but it remains to be seen whether the Jets will trade him. In a recent poll, PFR readers were split on whether Adams will stay or go.

Dak Prescott Still Wants Four-Year Deal; Cowboys Want Five-Year Deal

Dak Prescott agreed to sign his franchise tender on Sunday, but there’s still a lot of work to be done between now and the July 15 deadline. The length of the contract still needs to be ironed out, and there’s still a slight disparity in what each side wants. The Cowboys want to sign Prescott to a five-year add-on, but the quarterback continues to push for a four-year deal, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT

[RELATED: Prescott To Sign $31.4MM Franchise Tender]

Prescott’s camp is concerned that a five-year deal could turn into something longer via the franchise tag. Ideally, Prescott wants the flexibility to test the open market while he’s still in his prime years, giving him an opportunity to cash in as the salary cap increases. Prescott is pretty set on the four-year mark, so the Cowboys may ultimately have to bend in order to get a deal done before the upcoming deadline. If they can’t hash out an extension in the next few weeks, they’ll have to wait until after the 2020 season to revisit talks.

Meanwhile, Florio hears that the Cowboys have been surprised by Prescott’s resolve. The former fourth-round quarterback has spent his whole career playing on his rookie deal – other players in his position would have jumped at earlier offers. Instead, Prescott has been unwilling to settle. He understands his value as a young, quality quarterback in today’s NFL and the leverage he has. Ultimately, if the Cowboys opt to tag him again in 2021, he can make nearly $70MM over the next two years.

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