Tuesday, October 20, 2020

3 quick thoughts as Dak Prescott signs Cowboys franchise tag

Dak Prescott has finally put pen to paper on a deal with the Cowboys, and that noise you heard was Cowboys Nation breathing a collective sigh of relief. The prospect of Andy Dalton starting for Dallas in 2020 is fading into memory like a bad dream. But not so fast

This was not the four or five-year deal that they’ve been thrashing about with since March. No this is just the franchise tag deal. This is $31.4 million one-year. This leaves a lot of scenarios on the table and some of them are downright horrendous for the Cowboys. So what could it all mean:

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have until July 15th to work out a long term deal ©  Patrick
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have until July 15th to work out a long term deal © Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Option 1 – Dak Prescott signs long term deal

The best, and still most likely, outcome is that Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will make a long-term deal. It’s in everyone’s best interests for this to happen and I still see this at the end result. With the franchise tag signed, it guarantees Dak is in the house right now to learn the offense and be good to go once the season is underway. Winner.

So first thing up is that this gives us a solid base to go forward in 2020. Everyone knows where they stand. The two parties still have until July 15th to make a long-term deal, and that is still 22 days away. Plenty of time. A long term deal will also reduce Dak’s cap number which will help the team, as currently there is just $10,509,043 in cap space per spotrac.

A 4-year $120-million deal is still the region we can be expecting, with the possibility of a fifth-year, or a fifth-year option. It’s not a done deal, but all signs have been pointing to the two sides not being miles apart. So this is still the likeliest outcome.

Option 2 – Sign and Trade

It happens all the time in the NBA and has happened in the NFL with players like Jarvis Landry. The chances of this happening with Dak Prescott however, are very slim. At this point, there are only two teams with the cap space to take his franchise tag deal, the Browns and the Redskins.

The Browns have Baker Mayfield, and Washington has Dwayne Haskins (I know). Plus the likelihood of Dallas trading Dak to a division rival is less than zero. So the receiving team would have to do a long-term deal with Dak to make it workable. That being said, there are some teams with cap space that may be up for some cap gymnastics to work out a deal.

The Lions($28m) have an aging and disgruntled QB in Matthew Stafford, the Colts($23m) potentially have no QB at all after 2020, and the Jaguars($20m) have Gardner Minshew. However, all three would need to heavily backload the deal. The Colts would be the most likely destination with Rivers and Brissett clearing $46-million off the books at the end of the 2020 season, and they could always cut bait with Brissett now and save $8.8-million.

But this option is highly unlikely.

Option 3 – The Kirk Cousins scenario

Kirk Cousins turned the same situation into the NFL's first 100% guaranteed contract
Kirk Cousins turned the same situation into the NFL’s first 100% guaranteed contract

It’s been touted around and shouted from the rooftops by Mike Florio for a while now, and as much as it pains me it’s a definite possibility. Dak Prescott signing his deal now puts the Cowboys in a bind. They can no longer withdraw the franchise tag and play hardball with the quarterback. All indications are that they had no intention of doing that, but now it’s off the table.

This means, if no Dak acceptable long-term deal is on the table it would cost Dallas $37.68 million to tag him again in 2021. That’s a tough ask, but if they still couldn’t get a long-term deal done, the franchise tag figure in 2022 would be $54.3 million! That’s not going to happen.

But that’s the path the Cowboys and Dak Prescott could be on. You can view the situation one of two ways: Dak has done the right thing by the team and is now in house for the season preparation, or he’s just played the ultimate card and locked the Cowboys into a bigger deal than they really want to pay.

Make no mistake, this is closer to reality now than it was before. While we can not know what is being said in the meeting rooms, we can surmise that a long-term deal isn’t close. If it were there would be no reason for Dak Prescott to sign this deal at this time. The only reason to sign now is leverage.

I still expect a deal to get done, but I do think this increases the overall value of the contract. The idea of the Cowboys entering 2021 in search of a franchise quarterback isn’t one that should fill anyone with any joy. So for all our sakes let’s hope this deal gets done soon because the longer it goes on the more acrimonious things are likely to get and the more likely the Cowboys are to lose Dak Prescott.

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