Dak Prescott

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Offense

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to the second reduction in NFL salary cap history last year, the 2022 cap made a record jump. This year’s salary ceiling ($208.2MM) checks in $25.7MM north of the 2021 figure.

While quarterbacks’ salaries will continue to lead the way, a handful of blockers and skill-position players carry sizable cap numbers for 2022. A few of the quarterbacks that lead the way this year may not be tied to those numbers once the regular season begins. The 49ers, Browns and Ravens have made efforts to alter these figures via trades or extensions.

Here are the top 2022 salary cap hits on the offensive side of the ball:

  1. Ryan Tannehill, QB (Titans): $38.6MM
  2. Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs): $35.79MM
  3. Kirk Cousins, QB (Vikings): $31.42MM
  4. Jared Goff, QB (Lions): $31.15MM
  5. Aaron Rodgers, QB (Packers): $28.53MM
  6. Carson Wentz, QB (Commanders): $28.29MM
  7. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers): $26.95MM
  8. Russell Wilson, QB (Broncos): $24MM
  9. Lamar Jackson, QB (Ravens): $23.02MM
  10. Kenny Golladay, WR (Giants): $21.2MM
  11. Garett Bolles, T (Broncos): $21MM
  12. Dak Prescott, QB (Cowboys): $19.73MM
  13. Derek Carr, QB (Raiders): $19.38MM
  14. D.J. Humphries, T (Cardinals): $19.33MM
  15. Keenan Allen, WR (Chargers): $19.2MM
  16. Taylor Decker, T (Lions): $18.9MM
  17. Sam Darnold, QB (Panthers): 18.89MM
  18. Baker Mayfield, QB (Browns): $18.89MM
  19. Matt Ryan, QB (Colts): $18.7MM
  20. Ronnie Stanley, T (Ravens): $18.55MM
  21. Donovan Smith, T (Buccaneers): $18.4MM
  22. Ezekiel Elliott, RB (Cowboys): $18.22MM
  23. DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Cardinals): $17.95MM
  24. Cooper Kupp, WR (Rams): $17.8MM
  25. Laremy Tunsil, T (Texans): $17.71MM
  • The Chiefs’ cap sheet looks a bit different this year, with Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu off the roster. But Mahomes’ cap number rockets from $7.4MM in 2021 to the league’s second-largest figure in 2022. This marks the first time Mahomes’ 10-year contract is set to count more than $10MM toward Kansas City’s cap, with the AFC West champs not yet restructuring the deal this year.
  • Tied to a few lucrative extensions since relocating to Minnesota, Cousins’ third Vikings deal dropped his cap number from $45MM. The fifth-year Vikings QB’s cap number is set to climb past $36MM in 2023.
  • Prior to negotiating his landmark extension in March, Rodgers was set to count more than $46MM on the Packers’ payroll.
  • The 49ers are aiming to move Garoppolo’s nonguaranteed money off their payroll. That figure becomes guaranteed in Week 1, providing a key date for the franchise. San Francisco is prepared to let Garoppolo negotiate contract adjustments with other teams to facilitate a trade.
  • Wilson counts $26MM on the Seahawks’ 2022 payroll, due to the dead money the NFC West franchise incurred by trading its 10-year starter in March.
  • Jackson, Darnold and Mayfield are attached to fifth-year option salaries. Jackson’s is higher due to the former MVP having made two Pro Bowls compared to his 2018 first-round peers’ zero. The 2020 CBA separated fifth-year option values by playing time and accomplishments. The Browns and Panthers have engaged in off-and-on negotiations on divvying up Mayfield’s salary for months, while a Jackson extension remains on the radar.
  • Golladay’s cap number jumped from $4.47MM last year to the highest non-quarterback figure among offensive players. The Giants wideout’s four-year deal calls for $21MM-plus cap hits from 2023-24.
  • Prior to being traded to the Colts, who adjusted their new starter’s contract, Ryan was set to carry an NFL-record $48MM cap hit this year. The Falcons are carrying a league-record $40.5MM dead-money charge after dealing their 14-year starter.
  • The Texans restructured Tunsil’s deal in March, dropping his 2022 cap hit from $26.6MM to its present figure. Because of the adjustment, Tunsil’s 2023 cap number resides at $35.2MM

Contract information courtesy of Over The Cap 

Cowboys Rework Prescott, Martin Deals

The Cowboys have restructured quarterback Dak Prescott‘s contract to create roughly $15MM in cap space, per a club announcement. Meanwhile, they’ve also reworked the contract of guard Zack Martin to free up an extra ~$7MM in room. Between the two moves, the Cowboys have an additional $22MM to work with in advance of free agency. 

[RELATED: Cowboys Franchise Tag Schultz]

This appears to be a simple restructuring — one that converts 2022 base salary into a signing bonus. Prescott has done this before, agreeing to tweak his contract last year to give Dallas an extra $5MM in space.

Injuries limited Prescott to just five games in 2020, but he managed to play in 16 games last year. He finished the year with an 11-5 record in his starts with 4,449 yards and 37 touchdowns against ten interceptions. That marked the best TD% of his career to date (6.2). Statistically, that’s what the Cowboys were hoping for when they inked him to a four-year, $160MM extension in March of ’21. His contract — which made him the league’s second-ever $40MM/year player — remains largely the same after today’s adjustment.

Martin, a seven-time Pro Bowler, missed six regular season games in 2020 with a calf injury. In 2021, he bounced back strong with 16 starts and yet another All-Pro nod.

Cowboys Notes: Cooper, Elliott, Prescott

The Cowboys face the possibility of losing a number of their big-name players on both sides of the ball. The most notable of those – not just in terms of pedigree, but also how much his contract will affect the rest of the team’s offseason plans – is Amari Cooper. Recent comments from executive vice president Stephen Jones won’t be confused with a ringing endorsement of the wideout.

As ESPN’s Todd Archer writes, Jones was non-committal when asked if Cooper would remain with the Cowboys through next season. “It’s too early for me to address that yet… we’re continuing to have conversations”, he said. Questions surrounding the 28-year-old have increased recently, due to structure of his contract. There is no more guaranteed money left on Cooper’s deal, creating the possibility the team could get out of a $22MM cap hit in each of the next three years, while incurring relatively little dead money.

The former fourth overall pick had his least productive full season in Dallas last year. While his numbers (68 catches for 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games) were still noteworthy, they fell short of expectations given his Pro Bowl pedigree, along with his contract. Moving on from Cooper could lead to a substantial overhaul of the Cowboys’ receiving corps, as Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson are each pending free agents, leaving CeeDee Lamb as essentially the only sure thing at the position.

Here are some other Dallas notes, including more remarks from Jones:

  • In contrast to Cooper, Jones spoke with more certainty about Ezekiel Elliott, saying “He’s going to be here, no question. We’re fortunate to have him”. With his money being guaranteed, that confirmation shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, Archer notes, but it is still notable given the fact Elliott played through a knee injury all season. Despite being banged up, he produced 1,289 scrimmage yards and 12 total touchdowns in 2021.
  • On a more general note, Jones suggested the Cowboys won’t treat this offseason as an ‘all-in’ year while sacrificing future cap flexibility. “We could do some things that would allow us to keep most of our guys if we wanted to push it all out, but then we’d have a much bigger problem next year and the year after”, he said (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jon Machota). The Cowboys are currently projected to be over the cap, with several big-ticket free agents (including Randy Gregory and Dalton Schultz) still to be re-signed.
  • Lastly, head coach Mike McCarthy announced at the Combine that Dak Prescott had surgery on his left (i.e. non-throwing) shoulder at the beginning of the offseason, Field Yates of ESPN tweets. McCarthy has “no concern” about Prescott’s availability for offseason workouts, an encouraging sign given his injury history in Dallas.

NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Darnold, Cowboys

Imagine a loaded Buccaneers offense with…Jonathan Taylor at running back. It could have been a possibility, as the Buccaneers had their eye on the Wisconsin product during the 2020 draft, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Bucs were armed with the No. 14 heading into that draft, and Taylor was on the “short list” of players the organization was considering with that selection. The team ended up with their preferred prospect, offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs, and they traded up to No. 13 to make sure they got the lineman. However, if Wirfs was off the board at that point in the draft, then Tampa Bay likely would have pivoted to Taylor, who didn’t hear his name come off the board until midway through the second round.

“I loved him,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said recently (via Schefter). “He could do it all, and it was just a matter of time — playing behind that offensive line — that he was going to be the force that he is.”

Taylor has obviously had a standout season with the Colts, leading the league with 1,348 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns (naturally, he’s also leading the NFL with 1,684 yards from scrimmage and 18 total scores). Of course, things have worked out fine for the Buccaneers. Wirfs has started all 28 of his career games, while the duo of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones were more than capable during Tampa Bay’s 2020 Super Bowl run.

Some more notes out of the NFC…

  • Sam Darnold seems to be out of the picture in Carolina, but the Panthers still owe the quarterback $18.8MM in guaranteed money in 2022. The team already paid Denver $7MM to inherit Teddy Bridgewater, leaving the organization with $17MM in dead cap. As a result, Joseph Person of The Athletic believes Darnold will stick around as a high-priced backup vs. being involved in a salary dump. Person specifically cites a 2017 trade where the Texans attached a second-round pick to Brock Osweiler to dump his salary on Cleveland; league sources tell the reporter that “an Osweiler-type trade involving Darnold is unlikely.”
  • Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards is a candidate for the head coaching job at his alma mater, Duke University, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). Edwards was a four-year player for Duke, and he served as an assistant on the Duke staff way back in 1996. He’s had a long coaching career since that time, including a recent six-year stint as the Vikings defensive coordinator. Edwards has been a senior defensive assistant with the Cowboys since 2020. Duke parted ways with David Cutcliffe last month.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com recently tweeted the 10 highest salary cap hits for 2022, and the top three spots all belong to the NFC. Falcons QB Matt Ryan and his $48.7MM cap hit leads the way, following by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers at $46.1MM and Vikings QB Kirk Cousins at $45MM. Other NFC players on the list include Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (sixth, $37MM), Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (ninth, $34.5MM), and Lions QB Jared Goff (10th, $31.2MM).

Cowboys Rework Dak Prescott’s Deal

The Cowboys have converted $6.25M of Dak Prescott‘s base salary into a signing bonus, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). With help from their star quarterback, the Cowboys have carved out an additional $5M in cap space for the current year. 

[RELATED: Cowboys’ Prescott On Track For Week 1]

Injuries limited Prescott to just five games last year, but he posted at least 450 yards between Weeks 2-4. The Cowboys are banking on another hot start from their franchise QB and a season similar to 2019 when he threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Prescott agreed to a four-year, $160MM extension in March, keeping him in place for years to come while avoiding the prospect of astronomical franchise tags. The deal made him the NFL’s second $40MM-per-year player, alongside Patrick Mahomes. Since then, Josh Allen has sandwiched himself in between at $43MM/year.

Prescott will make his return on Thursday night when the Cowboys face the Buccaneers.

Cowboys’ Dak Prescott On Track For Week 1

Good news for Cowboys fans. Quarterback Dak Prescott has had “absolutely no setbacks” in his recovery (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero) and remains on course to play in the season opener on September 9.

Prescott’s ailing shoulder is still healing on schedule and Pelissero hears that he could have even played in tonight’s game against the Texans. But, because there’s little to be gained in exhibition games, the Cowboys didn’t want to take any risks. The plan is to ramp up Prescott’s practice reps next week, which doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll take the field against the Jaguars on Aug. 29. In all likelihood, the Cowboys will take the cautious approach by protecting Prescott between now and Week 1 against the Buccaneers.

The sixth-year QB threw the ball around before the Cowboys’ second preseason game last weekend and didn’t experience any pain, another promising sign for the weeks ahead.

Injuries limited Prescott to just five games last year, but he posted at least 450 yards between Weeks 2-4. The Cowboys are banking on another hot start from their franchise QB and a season similar to 2019 when he threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns.

QB Notes: Patriots, Dak, Brady, Rosen

Shortly after the draft, Bill Belichick said Cam Newton was the Patriots‘ starter and Mac Jones would develop behind him. Through two-plus weeks of training camp, a competition could be brewing. The gap between Newton and Jones has narrowed, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. It is not certain if Jones can mount a legitimate charge to unseat Newton for Week 1, but modern NFL history — excepting the Packers’ blueprints — points to this transition happening this season. Newton has never played a backup role as a pro, so it would be interesting to see how the Patriots would proceed if Jones beats him out. If Jones does end up winning the job, Belichick giving Newton a choice to either stay with the Patriots or be released would not surprise Reiss. New England re-signed Brian Hoyer this offseason and has Jarrett Stidham on its roster.

Here is the latest quarterback news from around the league:

  • The Cowboys are being cautious with Dak Prescott‘s injured shoulder, but good news continues to emerge on the sixth-year quarterback. After a strange update by the Cowboys’ Twitter account indicated Prescott would undergo a second MRI, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes that exam took place Saturday and revealed progress. Dak’s ailing shoulder is healing on schedule (Twitter link). Prescott threw before the Cowboys’ second preseason game this weekend and experienced no pain in doing so, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (video link). Prescott is likely to return to practice this week, and Rapoport notes playing in one preseason game is on the table. It does not appear, at this point, Cowboys fans should be concerned about Dak missing Week 1.
  • Kyle Shanahan said recently Josh Rosen was trending downward. The former top-10 pick, who is vying for the 49ers‘ third-string job, took a couple of steps back in recent practices, per Shanahan (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch). In Rosen’s preseason debut with the team, he completed 10 of 15 passes for 93 yards but threw an interception. When asked postgame about Shanahan’s critique, Rosen said he does not receive many practice reps in the first place, per Branch, who adds it is unlikely Rosen gained ground in his competition with Nate Sudfeld to make the team’s 53-man roster. Sudfeld did not play in the 49ers’ preseason opener. The 49ers keeping both, with the competition’s loser on the practice squad, is in play. But Rosen losing this battle would represent another setback in a pro career filled with them.
  • As you’ve surely heard in recent years, Tom Brady wants to play until age 45. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer recently signed a Buccaneers extension that runs through 2022, and longtime trainer Alex Guerrero said during an appearance on the Adam Schefter Podcast (via Boston.com) his client should not be expected to retire after this season. Guerrero said Brady playing beyond 2022 would not surprise. Brady has kept this door open, though the 44-year-old quarterback has not committed to playing beyond next season.

NFC East Notes: Dak, Gregory, WFT, Eagles

The Cowboys went through three offseasons of Dak Prescott negotiations, finally bringing an end to the saga with a monster four-year, $160MM extension for the Pro Bowl quarterback. This drawn-out process ended benefiting Prescott considerably, given his value when the first round of negotiations began in 2019. Dak is now one of the league’s two $40MM-per-year players, joining Patrick Mahomes, and the sixth-year Dallas quarterback cannot be franchise-tagged after this extension expires. When addressing his top regret during his time as the team’s executive vice president, Stephen Jones said he “probably would have signed Dak the first time around; it would have been better for everybody,” via Pat Doney of NBC 5. The negotiations, which began in April 2019, led to a 2020 franchise tag and the QB’s price rising to the point he inked one of the most player-friendly deals in NFL history this past March. The Cowboys still have their fourth-round find locked up long-term, however. They just took a more difficult route to get here.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Randy Gregory has moved into position to be a full-time starter for the first time, being set to play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence on a regular basis this season. The Cowboys’ oft-suspended pass rusher alluded to then-defensive coordinator Mike Nolan preferring Aldon Smith due to “favoritism.” “I felt there was a little bit of favoritism going on … refusing to let me outshine their favorite,” Gregory said in a lengthy story by The Athletic’s Dan Pompei (subscription required). “They knew I could do it, so they did what they could to keep me at bay. I had my times when I was angry. … I truly felt I got robbed of a year last year.” The NFL reinstated Gregory in late October last year. Smith, who started 16 games after making his own comeback from suspension, is now a Seahawk. New DC Dan Quinn said, via Pompei, he was surprised Gregory (27.1 defensive snaps per game in 2020) did not play more in 2020 and added that the embattled defensive end will indeed see more time this season.
  • The Washington Football Team will unveil its next nickname in 2022. That new identity will not be the Warriors, according to team president Jason Wright, who notes discussions the team held revealed “deep-seated discomfort” with that potential moniker. Regardless of what the new name ends up being, the franchise will still use its burgundy-and-gold color scheme.
  • Lane Johnson and Derek Barnett‘s restructures created a sizable chunk of cap space for the Eagles. They now have an additional $14MM in cap space, according to Yates (via Twitter). They are up past $16MM, per OverTheCap. Following the Saints’ lead, the Eagles spread out Barnett’s 2021 fifth-year option salary onto future caps by using void years. Barnett’s base salary is now $990K, with the void years stretching through 2025. The Eagles also used void years in Johnson’s restructure, spreading out the right tackle’s cap hit through 2028. He is on Philly’s books for just a $1.1MM base salary this season.

Dak Prescott Expected To Participate In OTAs, Be Cleared For Training Camp

The second ankle surgery Dak Prescott underwent in December injected a bit of uncertainty into the Cowboys quarterback’s return timetable, but this year continues to unfold smoothly for the sixth-year veteran.

Two months after signing a monster extension, Prescott is expected to participate in the Cowboys’ OTA sessions, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. While Mike McCarthy said Prescott will likely be restricted to individual work during Dallas’ OTAs, the second-year coach expects his quarterback to be full go come training camp.

I have no reason not to think that,” McCarthy said of Prescott receiving full clearance by training camp, via Hill. “I think this week in Phase 2 (of the offseason program) will be a nice step in that direction. He’ll do most things. He’s really had some excellent workouts here in the last couple weeks. I’d see him doing most of the work.”

This certainly represents good news for a Cowboys team now fully committed to the former Offensive Rookie of the Year. The soon-to-be 28-year-old passer’s recovery timetable was to be between four and six months, and Hill notes the December cleanup procedure is not believed to have delayed the recovery process. The Cowboys begin Phase 2 of their offseason program Monday. Phase 3, the OTA portion, begins May 24.

The 2020 Cowboys certainly missed their starter during the final three quarters of the season, after Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle last October. From 2016-19, Dak did not miss a game and established himself as the Cowboys’ franchise QB. The Cowboys let Andy Dalton walk in free agency and did not replace him with a veteran.

Latest On Dak Prescott’s Cowboys Deal

The Cowboys used their franchise tag on Dak Prescott on Tuesday, but the move was procedural. Dallas did give Prescott the exclusive tag, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter), for the second straight year. However, the two-year saga is still ending. Prescott agreed to a four-year, $160MM extension Monday night.

This move will further protect Prescott against a future tag down the line. A third tag would bump up the quarterback’s price to an astronomical place. A third tag in 2022 would have cost the Cowboys more than $54MM. They finalized a deal Monday, rather than have his second tag price — $37.7MM — on their books going into free agency.

Players have been tagged three times before; Hall of Fame tackle Walter Jones played three seasons on the tag in the 2000s. But the system now calls for a 44% raise from the previous year’s salary. Dak’s extension contains a no-tag provision, but that applies only to this through-2024 deal. Tuesday’s second tag would make the prospect of the Cowboys tagging Prescott at the end of another contract effectively a non-starter. This will give Dak more leverage over the course of his career.

After counting $22.2MM against Dallas’ 2021 cap, Prescott will see his cap numbers spike to $33.2MM in 2022, $44.2MM in 2023 and $47.2MM in ’24, per OverTheCap. Prescott’s 2021 and ’22 base salaries ($9MM and $20MM, respectively) are fully guaranteed, with Joel Corry of CBS Sports noting the well-compensated quarterback will receive his full $66MM signing bonus — an NFL-record figure — by the end of 2021 (Twitter link).

The guaranteed base salaries and full bonus payout being due this year will give Prescott $95MM guaranteed at signing, making for another NFL record. Matt Ryan‘s $94.5MM full guarantee in 2018 previously topped that list. While Prescott’s 2023 salary ($31MM) is guaranteed for injury only, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes it will shift to a full guarantee on the fifth day of the 2022 league year. TL;DR: Prescott is now a far richer man.

Prescott’s total guarantees ($126MM) fall short of Patrick Mahomes‘ ($141MM), and the Chiefs QB still leads the football world with his $45MM-per-year average. But Prescott’s contract has now set records for signing bonus, fully guaranteed money and Year 1 payment. While Mahomes is signed through 2030, Prescott will have the opportunity to cash in again — assuming his play level does not nosedive in the early 2020s — before turning 32.