Dak Prescott

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.

Cowboys Haven’t Talked Deals With Prescott, Cooper

While the Cowboys are reportedly at an “impasse” in negotiations with pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, the team apparently hasn’t even gotten that far with Dak Prescott nor Amari Cooper. Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram writes that the organization hasn’t started contract negotiations with the quarterback or wideout.

Both Prescott and Cooper are entering the final year of their contracts. As Hill notes, the two players are signed for 2019, and with their agents focused on their current free agent clients, there hasn’t been a particular rush to start negotiating. In fact, a source tells Hill that we may not seen either player signed to an extension until after the draft or during OTAs.

Either way, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out, it won’t be particularly easy to sign either player, especially when you consider the Cowboys’ current standoff with Lawrence. Prescott or Cooper could leverage the franchise tag, similar to what Lawrence is currently going through. If one of the two offensive players signs an extension, that would seemingly boost the leverage of their unsigned teammate. Florio notes that running back Ezekiel Elliott could also push for a new deal.

It’s clearly a slippery slope for the Cowboys, but vice president Stephen Jones made it clear that none of the hypothetical extensions are dependent on each other.

“Each negotiation is in its own place,” Jones said. “If we could get Dak done today, we would. If we could get Amari Cooper done today, we would. I wouldn’t necessarily say one has to come before the other. We’ll just see how each of those negotiations proceed.”

Following a midseason trade to Dallas, Cooper recaptured the potential he had shown during his first two years in the league. In nine starts, the wideout hauled in 53 receptions for 725 yards and six touchdowns. We heard earlier this week that the Cowboys were ready to discuss an extension with the receiver. Meanwhile, Prescott had another solid season in 2018, finishing with a career-high 3,885 passing yards to go along with 22 touchdowns vs. eight interceptions. We heard earlier this month that the team had met with the quarterback’s agent, but we can probably assume that no formal negotiations took place.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Rumors: Earl Thomas, Witten, Draft

Seahawks free agent safety Earl Thomas is expected seek $15MM a year with his next deal, The Athletic’s Calvin Watkins tweets.

Watkins notes that figure might be too high for the Cowboys. Though possessing plenty of cap space this offseason, the team is expected to use most of that money in signing Demarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal and working on extensions for players like Dak Prescott and Byron Jones.

Thomas and the Cowboys have long been linked ever since the All-Pro safety told head coach Jason Garrett to “come get him” following a 2017 game. The Cowboys and Seahawks were in talks on trades for the star defender in the offseason but could not come to an agreement on draft-round compensation.

Thomas, a Texas native and longtime Cowboys fan, reportedly will not take a “hometown” discount with the team and is also expected to be courted by the 49ers.

Here’s more surrounding the Cowboys:

  • When asked whether the newly signed Jason Witten is a “coach in waiting,” owner Jerry Jones said that he will be with the team in the future, whether that is as a coach or in another position, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweets. After a year-long hiatus, Witten made a shocking decision when he decided to come back for another season in 2019. Long considered a future NFL coach, Witten is sure to make a move in that direction following what is, presumably, his last season.
  • Speaking of Witten, when the future Hall of Famer rejoined the team, it was expected the Cowboys would not take a tight end early in the draft. That might not be the case, as the team has already met with Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, The Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota tweets. Though they might have interest, the Cowboys do not possess their first-round pick thanks to the Amari Cooper trade and the college standout will likely be gone before their Day 2 selection.
  • Like we said earlier, the Cowboys are expected to use most of their cap space to resign their own players this year. The team has already met with the agents for Prescott, Jones and Cooper, and are expected to meet with Lawrence’s agent tonight, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill Jr. tweets. They have not met with Ezekiel Elliott‘s agent yet, but have indicated plenty of interest in resigning him at some point.

 

Kellen Moore Leading Candidate For Cowboys’ OC Job?

Kellen Moore may well be set for a staggering rise within the coaching profession. The 30-year-old former quarterback-turned-quarterbacks coach spent one season on the Cowboys’ staff and has been linked to the recently available offensive coordinator job.

Moore appears to be the favorite to land the position, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes.

Jerry Jones is eyeing an internal hire to take the job Scott Linehan held, and Moore — whom the organization regards as a “bright football mind” after making a strong impression this season as QBs coach — is receiving heavy consideration for the role, per Davison. Tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier is also a candidate, Jones said.

Regardless of the Cowboys’ hire here, Jason Garrett is expected to call plays next season.

Dak Prescott will play a “significant” part in determining his next OC, Jones said. Jon Kitna, who also backed up Tony Romo for a time prior to Moore’s arrival, is joining Dallas’ staff in a to-be-determined role — one that ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter said would be as the Cowboys’ QBs coach. Moore rising from reserve quarterback to OC within two years would be a Romo-esque leap within a profession. Moore, who made two starts for the 2015 Cowboys, retired as a player in January 2018.

The Cowboys are not expected to make any more outside hires, according to Stephen Jones (via the Dallas Morning News’ Kate Hairopoulos, on Twitter). The current staff’s roles and titles are being discussed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Roethlisberger, Prescott, Foles

We heard recently that the Steelers were hoping to extend Ben Roethlisberger soon, and now we have confirmation of that. Steelers owner Art Rooney recently confirmed the team intended to get a new deal done for Big Ben soon, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “That’s certainly something that is on the agenda for this offseason,” Rooney said. Florio then dove into what a potential new contract for Roethlisberger, who has one year left on his current deal, would look like. Florio thinks Roethlisberger and his reps will demand “at least $28 million per year”, and points out that his current deal only paid him an average of $21.85 MM per year, far below market value. He also writes that Roethlisberger could choose to just play it year to year and make the Steelers franchise tag him for the next couple of seasons if they’re unwilling to meet his demands.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of quarterback extensions, Dak Prescott will need one soon as well. 2019 will be the last year of his rookie contract, and what kind of extension the Cowboys offer him will be one of the more interesting contract developments this offseason. Former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry took a look at all of Dallas’ options, and came to the conclusion that inking Prescott to a new deal “may be a lot easier said than done.” He writes that the Cowboys may be reluctant to offer Prescott top of the quarterback market money because it would preclude them from extending other young players, but that Prescott’s agent Todd France has “a reputation for driving a hard bargain in negotiations”, and will be unlikely to back down. It’ll be fascinating to see how this one plays out, and whether Prescott ends up getting top quarterback money or has to settle for something in the lower $20MM’s.
  • Another quarterback to monitor this offseason is Nick Foles. It’s been made clear that Foles won’t be back in Philadelphia next season, but it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be traded or able to pick his own destination in free agency. Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer broke down all the scenarios for this spring, and included some telling quotes from Foles. The Eagles can exercise an option to keep Foles under contract for next year, which Foles could then void if he pays the team back $2MM, “essentially buying free agency” as Berman points out. Foles recently said “having the option to be a free agent is extremely important” indicating he would much prefer to choose his own landing spot rather than be dealt somewhere. But even if he does pay the voiding fee, the Eagles could still franchise tag him and then attempt to trade him. We should know a lot more by the start of free agency.
  • In case you missed it, the Chargers plan on extending Philip Rivers this offseason.

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones On Elliott, Linehan

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is determined to hammer out new deals with running back Ezekiel Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott, edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence, and cornerback Byron Jones. However, he’s stopping short of any guarantees on those fronts. 

I want him in the short-term and the long-term,” Jones said of Prescott in a radio interview (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas News).

He expressed the same sentiment about Elliott, Lawrence, and Jones while tempering expectations.

Now, getting [those contracts done]…hell, I want a bigger boat,” said Jones.

This was an up-and-down year for Prescott, but the Cowboys seem committed to moving forward with the 25-year-old (26 in July). As it stands, they have the former fifth-round pick under contract for an $816K cap figure through 2019, which should work to the team’s advantage – given his relative lack of earnings to date, Prescott may take the security of a below-market long-term deal over the gamble of free agency next year.

New deals for Elliott and Lawrence will be expensive propositions, but the Cowboys are planning to devote a big chunk of their $54MM+ in cap space towards keeping the band together.

Later in the interview, Jones declined to give offensive coordinator Scott Linehan a vote of confidence.

This is the time when these things are thought about,” Jones said when pressed on Linehan’s future (Twitter link). “This is the time when you may see an opportunity next week that you didn’t know existed next week, in the area of personnel or the area of coaching.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.