Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott Not Eyeing Discount?

The quarterback market has grown rapidly over the past year and change, and Dak Prescott stands as the latest passer in position to benefit. Entering his contract year, the 2016 offensive rookie of the year has been negotiating with the Cowboys for several weeks.

Cowboys management has floated the idea of convincing the quarterback to take a slight discount in order to help the team retain a strong roster around him. Prescott, who is attached to a fourth-round rookie contract (four years, $2.7MM), may not be on board with that line of thinking.

For somebody to say you can only take so much because of the salary cap or you can only do this or that, I don’t know how fair that is to say,” Prescott said, via Jori Epstein of USA Today. “Because with gambling, with everything going into this league, everything is going to continue to keep going up.”

The salary cap has steadily risen by approximately $10MM annually over the past several years, and the recent rumblings have many owners ready to see what loosened gambling restrictions could do for the league’s revenue. The NFL and NFLPA are also negotiating a new CBA, which could be a game-changer for player salaries.

This points to a friendlier marketplace, particularly for quarterbacks. While franchise signal-callers out-earn their position-playing teammates, the league now has eight QBs averaging at least $27MM per year. Two summers ago, it had zero. While Prescott has not shown himself to be a top-tier quarterback, he has piloted the Cowboys to three winning seasons and quietly has two top-five QBR marks (2016 and ’17).

It’s important for all these guys to get every bit of their worth. I want to see Zeke (Elliott) the highest paid. I want to see Amari (Cooper) the highest paid,” Prescott said. “I want to see myself up there. And I don’t think any of that is too far-fetched. Because at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, a year or two later, you’re not going to be the highest paid. That’s just the way the game goes.”

A recent report indicated the Cowboys were comfortable paying Prescott in the $30MM-AAV neighborhood. It sounds like they will need to get to that place, and perhaps higher, to strike a deal with their fourth-year starter. The Cowboys have been studying Carson Wentz‘s $32MM-per-year deal as they move forward with Prescott, but hurdles remain.

I mean, steps have to be made,” Prescott said. “They’re simple steps. For the most part, obviously you want to get closure and obviously you want to get it done, but the Cowboys probably feel the same way that I do: Nobody wants to take anything that’s not fair to the other.

I don’t think it’s fair to sit there and say, ‘This guy can’t get that because he needs the rest of the team.’ The rest of the team can all get theirs with the way the league is trending.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Prescott, Cooper, Elliott, Collins, Smith

The Cowboys are fortunate to have a lot of young talent. But one downside that comes with having a lot of young talent, is that sooner or later you have to pay them all. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper are all looking for extensions, and Dallas is going to have to break the bank. Prescott is likely looking to top what Carson Wentz just got, meaning he’ll demand $30MM-plus annually. Quietly, there have been some rumblings that the team isn’t in any rush to extend Elliott. It makes sense because Elliott has the most time left on his deal, but it’s interesting nonetheless. There’s been a lot of concern about how they’ll fit all three players under the cap, but Calvin Watkins of The Athletic writes that you shouldn’t be concerned.

Talking about those key three as well as safety Byron Jones, Watkins writes that the team is “optimistic they can take care of all of them.” Watkins says that the Cowboys did in fact put Elliott on the back-burner before, but that’s no longer the case. “The team no longer believes they can wait on extending him in 2020,” as he could get too expensive by then, Watkins writes. They’re now going to try to lock him up this summer as well, and Watkins does some of the math that shows they should be able to squeeze them all in. Watkins does admit there could be some possible complications, but everything seems on track for the Cowboys to be able to extend all their guys.

  • While the aforementioned four players can all expect to be taken care of, the same can’t be said of offensive lineman La’el Collins. Watkins writes that Collins “could be one player out the door,” in order to make room for the extensions in future years. Collins “is due for a new contract next spring, but Cowboys officials are expected to let him test free agency,” Watkins reports. The team’s right tackle, Collins has started all 16 games each of the last two seasons, so this would be a big departure. Although he’s been reliable, the team has never seemed too enamored with him, so this isn’t shocking. Collins is still only 25 and will be seeking a massive contract next offseason, and it sounds like he could get priced out of Dallas’ range.
  • In the same piece, Watkins also has some news on linebacker Jaylon Smith. Smith was the 34th overall pick in 2016, and normally a 2016 second-round pick would be scheduled for unrestricted free agency next offseason. But because of language in the CBA, Smith will have only accrued three years of service time once this year is over. Smith, of course, was inactive his entire rookie season due to a serious injury suffered toward the end of his college career. Because of this, Smith will be a restricted free agent next spring. A source told Watkins that “the team is expected to place a second-round tender on him.” That means the Cowboys will be able to match whatever offer Smith gets from a team, and if they let him walk that team would have to give Dallas their second-round pick. Most teams aren’t willing to pay that price, which means the Cowboys will likely get Smith back at a discount next year.
  • In case you missed it, Elliott won’t be suspended by the league.

Cowboys Notes: Prescott, Cooper, Elliott

Scheduled to earn $2.025MM in 2019, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott stands as one of the best values in the entire NFL. But, without the fifth-year option at the Cowboys’ disposal, they’ll have to pay a hefty sum to lock down the former fourth-round pick.

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com looked at Prescott’s case for a new deal and concluded that he could push to make more than Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who just re-upped on a new contract worth $32MM/year. In fact, he hears the Cowboys have been studying Wentz’s contract to see how it may impact negotiations with Prescott and he believes that it will serve as the main comp for talks.

It’s tricky to compare the two quarterbacks, but the tale of the tape does show some advantages in Prescott’s corner. Prescott has more career wins and division titles than Wentz, so it’s possible that the soon-to-be 26-year-old could wind up as the latest member of the $30MM/year club and the highest-paid QB in the NFC East.

Here’s more from Dallas:

The Curious Case Of Dak Prescott

We learned yesterday that the Cowboys and Dak Prescott are still far apart in their extension talks, and the relationship between player and team could become strained if this situation drags out into the regular season. Prescott’s base pay jumps from $630K in 2018 to just over $2MM in 2019, which is a tidy raise, but still far below market value for a three-year starter, two-time Pro Bowler, and former Rookie of the Year who has quarterbacked his team to two playoff berths.

But while the resume that Prescott has put together during his brief time in the league is quite impressive, there is still plenty of skepticism as to whether he will continue on an upward trajectory or if he will settle in as a decidedly above-average quarterback that needs a strong supporting cast to succeed. It is telling that both of Prescott’s Pro Bowl nods (2016, 2018) came when star running back Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing, and even with a productive Zeke, Prescott wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire in 2018 before the arrival of Amari Cooper helped to spark the offense.

At the same time, it’s unfair to expect any quarterback to thrive without surrounding him with talent at the skill positions and on the offensive line. The adage that suggests a good QB should make his teammates better is often overused and only true to a certain extent. You can’t, after all, get blood out of a stone, and asking your signal-caller to consistently elevate a collection of mediocre players is not a workable strategy.

Prescott is undoubtedly eyeing the massive extension that Carson Wentz just landed from the division rival Eagles and wondering why Dallas can’t offer him that kind of cash. Prescott may never be the type of player to throw for over 30 TDs a season, but he has been nothing but durable during his first three years in the league, which Wentz certainly cannot say. For what it’s worth, Spotrac pegs Prescott’s market value at $29.4MM per year, not too far south of Wentz’ new pact, which carries an AAV of $32MM.

Yesterday’s report indicated that negotiations could last until at least training camp, and obviously both sides are motivated to get something done. Unlike Wentz, Prescott’s earnings potential would likely take a major hit if he were to sustain some sort of significant injury, and the Cowboys have several other contracts to address (including those of Cooper and Elliott).

There is a lot of work to do, especially for a team that knows all too well the constraints of a roster that offers little salary cap flexibility. It would still come as a shock if Prescott plays for anyone other than the Cowboys for the foreseeable future, but until a new deal is signed, there will be room for doubt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys, Dak Prescott Far Apart In Talks

Plans for the 2016 quarterback class’ extensions became clearer this week, with the Eagles extending Carson Wentz and the Rams appearing set to approach a Jared Goff re-up next year. The Cowboys do not have as much time, as Dak Prescott is entering his first contract year.

The Cowboys and Prescott began negotiations weeks ago, and a report of progress emerged last month. The parties seem to have hit a standstill in talks. Prescott and the Cowboys are “really far apart” on terms at this point, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link) — to the point they will likely press pause on these discussions. This process looks set to drag into training camp, Garafolo adds.

Wentz’s $32MM-per-year deal (with $66MM fully guaranteed) likely raises Prescott’s floor. While he may not ultimately receive what the Eagles passer did, the likelihood of the 2016 offensive rookie of the year accepting much less is not high. The Cowboys may not be fazed by a deal worth approximately $30MM AAV, but executive VP Stephen Jones bringing up the prospect of a team-friendlier deal (because of the marketing opportunities that come with Prescott’s role) may complicate matters — especially with the Cowboys having several high-profile extension candidates.

Like Russell Wilson four years ago, Prescott faces the prospect of earning a mid-rounder’s salary for a fourth straight year. Considering the Cowboys’ effusive praise for their fourth-round find, it’s likely they and Prescott will find a middle ground. But the team has some leverage in Prescott’s $2.025MM base salary this season. Conversely, the value of being a contract-year quarterback on a team that has other key priorities — like deals for Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott — stands to work in the soon-to-be 26-year-old passer’s favor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Elliott, Frederick, Prescott

Travis Frederick is tentatively on track to return to the Cowboys’ starting lineup after missing the 2018 season due to an illness discovered late last summer. The perennial Pro Bowl center has been present for Cowboys workouts thus far this offseason, but Guillain-Barré Syndrome and offseason shoulder surgery were not the only medical issues the seventh-year veteran has dealt with recently. He also had a procedure done to address a hernia issue, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic notes (subscription required). This was not as serious as a sports hernia, though, so it should not be too much of an impediment to a Frederick return. While Frederick has returned to partial work with his teammates this year, Watkins notes the Cowboys do not expect him to participate fully until training camp. In the event Frederick cannot recover in time, 2018 starter Joe Looney remains an insurance policy. Third-round rookie Connor McGovern has also received center time.

Here is the latest out of Dallas:

  • Ezekiel Elliott was involved in an incident with a security guard in Las Vegas over the weekend. Las Vegas police officers observed the Cowboys running back push a security staffer to the ground at approximately 3 a.m. Sunday, Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Officers then placed Elliott in handcuffs, but the victim did not press charges, Hairopoulos adds (via Twitter). Elliott was released without being arrested. The incident will not play into the Cowboys’ extension discussions, whenever they begin, executive VP Stephen Jones said (via Todd Archer of ESPN.com, on Twitter). The team is gathering information.
  • Despite Jaylon Smith being mentioned as a player the Cowboys would like to lock up long-term, no extension discussions between the Cowboys and the fourth-year linebacker have begun, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Unlike Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Byron Jones, Smith can be controlled via RFA tender in 2020. The Cowboys would be expected to place a second-round tender on the linebacker, Hill adds. Smith’s stay on the NFI list as a rookie created this path to restricted free agency, rather than unrestricted free agency, after four seasons.
  • Stephen Jones brought up the prospect of some of his team’s extension candidates taking less money because of the endorsement opportunities that come with playing for the Cowboys. But Watkins adds Prescott is not expected to do a team-friendly deal. “It’s not their job to manage the cap; I understand that,” Jones said. “But it is my job and Jerry’s job, so they will understand why we’re negotiating hard to make the very best deal we can, because the money, if we can talk them into not maxing out – doing well, but not maxed – then that allows us to have other good football players around them.” Watkins estimates Prescott soon signing the richest contract in Cowboys history, projecting a deal worth between $120-$130MM — which would make it a likely four-year pact — containing north of $70MM in guarantees. This jibes with what we’ve heard about Prescott’s potential price.

Latest On Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper

The Cowboys have made more progress in their contract talks with quarterback Dak Prescott than wide receiver Amari Cooper, a source tells Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram. A new deal for Prescott would come in at around $30MM per year, Hill hears, but the Cowboys seem unfazed by that figure. 

We are sold on Dak,” Jones said in a recent radio interview. “We do want to have him for the long term. We think he is worthy of investing in for the long term. He is going into his fourth year in the NFL. When you look at the snaps he has had, the situations he has been in and how he has got here and you see he has performed, we see real upside in Dak. You don’t have it all yet. We love the way he logically progresses through a game. You see when the going gets tough when he’s got to come from behind when he turns it loose a little bit. You see him make those plays. He emboldens me to make a deal with him that puts him here for the long term.”

They’d also like to lock up Cooper for the long haul, though his deal likely wouldn’t be less than $16MM/year. Cooper underwhelmed towards the end in Oakland, but he bounced back when came to Dallas in a midseason trade. In nine starts, Cooper hauled in 53 receptions for 725 yards and six touchdowns.

For now, the Cowboys have Cooper under contract for $13.924MM in 2019 thanks to his fifth-year option. Prescott, meanwhile, is on course for unrestricted free agency after his four-year rookie deal expires following the ’19 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cowboys, Elliott, Prescott, Cooper

With the Cowboys having begun negotiations with both Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, they appear to be ahead of Ezekiel Elliott in the team’s extension hierarchy. Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones confirmed as much this week.

During an appearance on Pro Football Talk Live (via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram), Jones said the Cowboys would like to have Prescott and Cooper extended before the season because it is “the right thing to do.” However, no timeline exists for Elliott, despite his superior production compared to his aforementioned teammates.

He’s the straw, if you will, that stirs our drink. He’s a key part of what we’re about,” Jones said. “Certainly, he’s a priority in terms of ultimately getting him signed. But there hasn’t really been a timetable put on this.”

At this point, Elliott has no holdout plans, Hill adds. This was rumored to be a possibility going into Dallas’ offseason program. But it is somewhat safe to assume that stance could change, depending on how talks unfold — if they unfold — this offseason. Elliott’s fifth-year option has him under Cowboys control through 2020.

Jones said at the Combine that Todd Gurley‘s four-year, $57.5MM deal will likely be the starting point for Elliott. He reiterated that position this week. Gurley, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell changed the running back marketplace. After no running back was attached to an eight-figure-per-year salary a year ago, Gurley, Johnson and Bell now each make north of $13MM per year. That provides a better road map for Elliott. However, Gurley now faces uncertainty because of a knee injury and Johnson is coming off the worst season (from a per-touch standpoint).

Elliott has accumulated far more touches through three years (1,003) than either Gurley or Johnson, but mileage probably isn’t a concern yet regarding the 23-year-old back. But it’s not certain Zeke will have a new deal in place by Week 1. That would take this situation to a more interesting place, especially if both Prescott and Cooper are signed by then.

The Cowboys have been reported as being unlikely to enter Russell Wilson financial territory for Prescott, and while Cooper’s price point is not known, it would be a bit of a surprise if the inconsistent wideout eclipsed Antonio Brown‘s deal. But it’s clear the Cowboys want these talents taken care of early. They would follow DeMarcus Lawrence in being extended. Elliott, Byron Jones and Jaylon Smith remain as young Cowboys eligible for new deals, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Begin Extension Talks With Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper

Barely two weeks ago, the Cowboys had not entered into extension discussions with their quarterback or No. 1 wide receiver. They have now.

Following DeMarcus Lawrence‘s re-up, the Cowboys are in talks with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Both players are part of Dallas’ extensive extension equation, which may also involve Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones and Jaylon Smith.

Certainly if there are opportunities there that make sense, then we’ll progress,” Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said during an interview with 105.3 The Fan (via Pro Football Talk). “I think pretty much everybody’s on it pretty good that there’s some pretty active discussions now with Dak and Amari, but it doesn’t mean that some can’t pick up in short order with other players that we have on our roster that we certainly want to keep here in Dallas and have them remain Cowboys in the future.”

While Elliott, Jones and Smith would certainly qualify as other players on Dallas’ roster that factor into the franchise’s long-term plans, talks beginning with Prescott and Cooper represent a key step this offseason. Both players are entering contract years. Each will likely be a key Cowboys cog into the 2020s.

The Cowboys’ most recent stance on Prescott was a wait-until-Russell Wilson-signs mindset. With Wilson having signed his record $35MM-AAV extension on Tuesday, it would appear time for Dallas to advance in talks with its multidimensional quarterback.

This could be a similar approach to the Lawrence negotiations, with the organization — though obviously high on its three-year starting passer — potentially eyeing a deal that will come in under Seattle’s Wilson pact. Prescott is five years younger than Wilson but obviously has not proven what the Seahawks veteran has, making this a dynamic similar to the Cowboys trying to bridge a gap for Lawrence between the Khalil Mack and Von Miller prices. The Cowboys also have leverage on Prescott, similar to what the Seahawks possessed with Wilson in 2015, with another year of a mid-round rookie salary on tap in 2019.

While reiterating a view Prescott’s next deal cannot put the Cowboys at a financial disadvantage, Jones pointed to Wilson and fellow $33MM-plus-AAV passer Aaron Rodgers having won a Super Bowl. This lends further credence the Cowboys are not planning to make Prescott the new highest-paid NFLer.

You’re talking about two guys there who, between Rodgers and Russell Wilson, have won Super Bowls that have had success year-in and year-out taking their teams to the playoffs,” Jones said. “So, yeah, those are guys who are going to make those type of (salary) jumps. But I’m not concerned. I think at the end of the day if there’s any position that has to keep an eye out, not only for the themselves, but they have to keep an eye out on their team in terms of how much cap space they take up, these quarterbacks are those guys because, at the end of the day, they’re going to make a lot of money.

The bigger for them in terms of their career and what they’re all about is how much did they win, how many Super Bowl rings do they have on their fingers, those are all huge deals. And they know if at some point they take up too much cap space at the end of the day, then it can hurt their chances in terms of winning.”

Cooper is entering his fifth-year option season. He is set to make $13.924MM in 2019. The Cowboys have been eyeing an extension for their 2018 trade acquisition since trading for him, so it is not surprising to see him join Prescott early in the team’s 2019 re-up queue.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Demarcus Lawrence Contract Details

On Friday, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys agreed to a five-year deal worth $105MM, making the defensive lineman one of the highest-paid defenders in the league. 

That deal will include plenty in guaranteed money, according to The MMQB’s Albert Breer (Twitter link). Breer broke the deal down like this:

  • 2019: $25MM to sign, $4.6MM roster bonus due on May 1, and $1.5MM base salary.
  • 2020: $16.9MM base that is fully guaranteed.
  • 2021: $17MM base with an injury guarantee that converts to a full guarantee in March 2020.
  • 2022: $19MM base salary.
  • 2023: $21MM base salary.

That’s $48MM fully guaranteed, but it is practically $65MM as the team would have to cut him after just one season to avoid paying that extra $17MM. It was reported recently Lawrence was seeking $22.5MM annually, and while he didn’t get that figure, he got close, with an average annual value of $21MM.

The Cowboys reportedly offered Lawrence an AAV of $17MM at the NFL Combine, which his camp countered with at least $20MM, The Athletic’s Calvin Watkins writes. Following the owners meeting, the Cowboys increased their offered to $20MM, but Lawrence’s agent, David Canter, pushed for $22.5MM. Dallas also reportedly originally offered Lawrence a six-year deal, but moved it down to five before the sides agreed on a price tag.

Now that he has signed his deal, Lawrence will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum. That procedure will take place on Wednesday, which will prevent complete dislocation, Ed Werder tweets. If dislocation happened, Lawrence would be looking at an IR stay, Werder hears.

With the new deal, the Cowboys gained an extra $10MM in cap space, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill tweets. Now that Lawrence’s deal is out of the way, the Cowboys are eyeing new contracts for several players, including Dak Prescott.

In Watkins’ piece, he notes the Cowboys are monitoring talks between Seattle and Russell Wilson before engaging with Prescott about a new deal. Regardless how that deal unfolds, Prescott is a near lock to sign a $100MM-plus contract with Dallas sometime soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.