2018 isn’t technically a contract year for Dak Prescott, but it might as well be.
The Cowboys franchise quarterback is eligible for an extension after this season, his third year as spelled out by the CBA, and as a franchise quarterback he’s likely going to command a fair chunk of cheese.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan just became the highest-paid player in the NFL after signing a five-year, $150M deal. Soon enough, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers will top him. It’s just the way quarterbacks work in the NFL.
It’s hard to imagine a world next spring where Dak Prescott is given a deal larger than the deal Aaron Rogers’ will receive. This isn’t to say Dak Prescott isn’t a good, perhaps even great, quarterback now or won’t be by then, but he’s not Aaron Rodgers.
The thing about quarterbacks though is that that doesn’t matter. If you’re the next franchise signal-caller to get paid, you’re likely going to become the game’s highest-paid player.
Of course, all of this hinges upon Dak’s 2018 campaign. If he’s playing to his 2016 form then his odds increase, if he slumps, well that wouldn’t be good for his wallet. Dak is technically under contract through 2019, but any good agent is going to work some magic for a Prescott payday after 2018.
The Cowboys are well-aware of this and are preparing for it. Stephen Jones spoke to the local media about the prep work on Wednesday at the Cowboys annual golf tournament. From the Dallas Morning News:
“We certainly know that’s going to happen. We’ve got that planned in our budgeting for the salary cap. And I just want Dak to go out there and be the MVP this year of the NFL, that’s what I want. And we’ll deal with that.”
Between now and then the Cowboys still have a few contractual hurdles to overcome. There’s Zack Martin’s pending long-term deal, although Jerry Jones is confident that one will come. DeMarcus Lawrence is playing on the franchise tag and will therefore be up for a new deal in 2019, but other than that don’t have any pressing matters a year from now.
A potential frame of reference for Dak entering year three is Oakland’s Derek Carr. As a second-round pick in 2014, Carr was eligible for his payday after the 2016 season. Entering that pseudo “contract year” his statistics were interesting compared to Dak’s now:
- Derek Carr (entering 2016): 10-22 record, zero playoff appearances, 698/1,172 (60%) for 7,257 yards, 53 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions
- Dak Prescott (entering 2018): 22-10 record, one playoff appearance (zero wins), 619/949 (65%) for 6,991 yards, 45 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions
Carr turned in a statistical year quite similar to his 2015 season (albeit he trimmed down on interceptions), but what’s most important is that the Raiders were 12-3 in games he started. He proved he was capable of leading a team.
Prescott has proven that once before, but the latest sample size casted doubt upon it. If he’s able to play well enough in 2018, it’s fair to assume he could become the game’s highest-paid player next offseason just as Derek Carr did last year.