Friday, October 30, 2020

Time to pay Dak Prescott his money

As the Dak Prescott saga drags on towards the usual start of training camp, he still sits without a deal going forward. The Cowboys franchised Prescott on the 16th March, but there has been limited progress on an extension since.

While the franchise tag will pay Dak $31.409 million in 2020, and should the Cowboys tag him again in 2021, a further $37.69 million for that season, it’s in the best interest of both parties to get the deal done as soon as possible.

Dak Prescott franchise quarterback?

The argument over whether Dak is worth the $35-milllion per year he apparently wants, or whether he has done enough to justify being paid as one of the top-five quarterbacks in the league are largely moot at this point.

The signals from Jerry Jones have been somewhat mixed on the star QB. Back in August, Jones said this of the contract situation with Dak: “I don’t think there is any doubt that he is at the top level of paid quarterbacks. There is no question in my mind about that. Now how we make this all fit to have the best team around him, that is what we are trying to work on.”

Dak Prescott will likely become the highest-paid QB in the NFL © Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Dak Prescott will likely become the second highest-paid QB in the NFL © Patrick Smith/Getty Images

And since that time the pieces around the QB have been taken care of with extremely lucrative deals. Ezekiel Elliott signed a 6-year $90-million deal on September 4th, and Amari Cooper signed a 5-year $100-million deal on March 16th.

When you sign extensions with players making them the number one paid WR (joint with Julio Jones), and the number two paid RB (behind Christian McCaffrey) it sends a message. And whether they like it or now, whether he’s proved it or not, Dak has to get paid.

With just $4.138 million left in cap space, per spotrac, the Cowboys could certainly do with extending Dak’s deal and making his cap number much less than the franchise tag currently sits at. However, there is no sign that the Cowboys would even consider stripping Dak Prescott of the franchise tag.

The signing of Andy Dalton as Prescott’s backup certainly adds some protection for the Cowboys on offense, but Dalton is far from a future franchise QB. So Dak Prescott is still the focus going forward.

Going into another preseason with a holdout isn’t what the Cowboys want, and there is no evidence Dak will do that. He is not Ezekiel Elliott, and the plight of quarterbacks isn’t as urgent as that for running backs.

But the possibility is there, and a second consecutive offseason could be disrupted over a contract extension that everyone knows will eventually get done which is no way to run a team. This offseason is already complicated enough without adding unnecessary flies to the ointment.

Couple that with a new head coach, and you really don’t want Dak Prescott’s preseason work to be disrupted any more than it has to be. At a time when the entire NFL is scrambling to turn this pandemic to their advantage the Cowboys should be pulling ahead with their stacked offensive talent, not shooting themselves in the foot.

Andy Dalton is just insurance not a genuine back up plan? © Ron Jenkins/Associated Press
Andy Dalton is just insurance not a genuine back up plan? © Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Dalton doesn’t give the Cowboys any leverage

All the cards are currently in Dak Prescott’s hands it seems, so the Cowboys need to suck it up and get this deal signed as soon as possible. If Dak balls in 2020, his price will only go up. Sure if he fails you can maybe cut bait with slightly better optics.

But no-one wants this to fail. If it fails you have two of the highest-paid position players in the NFL with no quarterback. Of course, there will be options on the free-agency market next season, but that’s not exactly a cost-effective way to build a franchise.

Jameis Winston may rehabilitate himself in New Orleans, or Cam Newton may prove he is healthy, but are either genuinely upgrades over Dak? You could argue Winston has more arm talent, but it’s hard to see all of those mistakes been eradicated in one relief season in New Orleans.

It’s time to sign Dak Prescott.

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