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DeMarcus Lawrence situation serves as reminder of what could happen if Cowboys don’t pay Dak Prescott

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Timing contract extensions is a tricky game in the NFL.

NFL: Pro Bowl Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are in a complicated situation when it comes to star pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tank played the 2018 season on the franchise tag (an almost $17M total value) and if he were to do so again he’d make north of $20M (he doesn’t want to, though). This gives the “just pay him now” crowd of a year ago ultimate bragging rights because had the Cowboys locked him down last offseason they’d be paying him less than they will in a world where Khalil Mack’s contract exists.

This is simple economics, really. Sometimes assets accrue more value over time and their overall worth is raised. Market value also plays a role in this and that’s exactly what’s happened here. Pass rushers are worth more than they worth a year ago and DeMarcus Lawrence plays that position. It can happen when you wait to pay a player.

It’s partly for this reason that those opposed should be more open to paying Dak Prescott now (besides the fact that it’s extremely likely to happen). Dak plays the quarterback position, by far the most expensive in the game, and he’s going to make an enormous amount of money.

All of the evidence points to the fact that Dak is going to get paid

There are plenty of data points and trends that show Prescott is the next quarterback who’s bank account will suddenly be flush with friends. His career so far speaks for itself, it compares more favorably to Derek Carr’s when he got his pay day, and our own Tom Ryle recently outlined why this is all a foregone conclusion.

So if you’ve accepted that this is going to happen, shouldn’t you do it now? Before value, worth, and all of that in between changes? Don’t you want to pay immediately since you know that you live in a world where the cost continues to only rise?

This is the price that we’re paying, no pun intended, with Tank Lawrence. While it may not have been as much of a certainty that a big contract was headed his way a year ago as it is that there’s one for Dak now, the Cowboys will indisputably pay more now than a season ago. They shouldn’t make that mistake with Dak, and you shouldn’t want them to.

Dak’s price tag will only continue to rise

Recently here at BTB Danny Phantom took a gander at what Dak Prescott’s contract could look like considering the quarterback world that we live in. Warning, it’s a lot.

True free agents can demand a big payday, but it’s a little harder if they’re still under contract. And some of these contracts are rather small if the players are taken later in the draft. So when they have an opportunity to cash in on their big contract a year early, that’s a good deal. Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Derek Carr got contract extensions entering the final year of their rookie contract. It’s good for the player as they don’t have to wait as long for their bank accounts to suddenly become really large. It’s also good for the organization because they now get a future contract for the current-year price. Not only that, but they can now shift their signing bonus to the current year, reducing their cap hit later.

This is the group Dak falls into. If he is worth 15% of the team’s cap space, that’s going to equal a deal that brings in $28.5 million annually. In the news, he’ll be announced as the third-highest paid quarterback in the league. And he will be. But he’ll also be just like other rising star quarterbacks before him that signs a new deal before his contract expires.

PREDICTION: Five-year, $142.5 million (average = $28.5 million), $20 million signing bonus

Danny did some excellent work in discussing the percentage of cap space that quarterbacks are worth. While percentages won’t necessarily change over time the salary cap obviously will, so a fixed percentage could actually be beneficial.

But what if it isn’t fixed? What if Dak gets more than 15%? The longer the Cowboys wait the higher that likelihood becomes, especially if he plays at the pace we’ve seen over his first three seasons. Delaying the inevitable only rolls the dice on a risky play. We don’t want to be sitting here a year from now talking about a contract worth 16% or more of the overall pie. We definitely don’t want to be sitting in a situation where Dak’s contract has expired and he has more leverage. DeMarcus Lawrence is already in that boat and he’s made it clear that there’s only one thing on his mind.

Dak Prescott is going to get paid, we know this far more than we did the same of DeMarcus Lawrence a year ago. It’s time to learn the lesson and put it into practice. It’s time to pay now to avoid a larger cost in the future.