On Wednesday night it was reported that the NFL is likely going to add an extra wildcard team to each of their conferences upping the total number of playoff teams to 14. It is yet to be seen whether or not the Dallas Cowboys will benefit from that. Perhaps they will be the third wildcard team at some point in the future and ride that wave to a Super Bowl title like Mike McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers did, but in the immediate future this news is going to significantly hinder the organization.
On Thursday afternoon NFL owners approved a new collective bargaining agreement which moves the process along significantly. The thing about this, though, is that should this come to pass, the Cowboys could be in a very unfortunate position here in the 2020 offseason.
A new CBA likely means only one tag is available to NFL teams this offseason
For about a year now we have been talking about this offseason and a very particular detail of it that could prove to be very beneficial to the Cowboys. It is the “Final League Year” of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The 2020 offseason is the final one of the current CBA and the contract within it notes that this offseason NFL teams are eligible to use both the franchise and transition tags, in normal offseasons they have to choose between one or the other. Doubling the number of tags, and therefore players that you can prevent from losing, is a huge benefit for a team like the Cowboys that has at least two players that will be highly sought-after in free agency (Dallas has three).
Obviously we do not know which duo the Cowboys would tag if it came to that, but odds are high that it would be Dak Prescott receiving the franchise tag with either Amari Cooper or Byron Jones receiving the transition tag. That makes a lot of sense.
Considering the fact that Prescott would be very likely be receiving the franchise tag, that means that a new CBA is something that his representation must really want.
A new CBA therefore likely gives Dak Prescott all the more leverage
It’s possible, likely even, that the Dallas Cowboys have already resigned themselves to the idea that they are going to have to apply the franchise tag to Dak Prescott. This has been reported in certain capacities numerous times already.
The franchise tag currently exists as a smash-glass-in-case-of-emergency option for the Cowboys as they obviously do not want to lose their quarterback. They do not want to lose Amari Cooper and/or Byron Jones either, but given the financial situation they find themselves in they have likely accepted that they could part ways with one.
If a new CBA does materialize soon now that the owners have approved it, then this means that the “Final League Year” element of the old CBA would effectively be washed away. This means that the loophole that was available to NFL teams would suddenly be disappear. This means that the Cowboys, like everyone else, would only have one tag available to them. With that going to Dak Prescott this means that Amari Cooper and Byron Jones would both be susceptible to be lost to free agency.
As it currently stands (as in this literal moment... this is all moving rather fast) the Cowboys likely feel somewhat safe (using that word loosely) with their Dak/Amari/Byron situation. It makes sense for them to accept that they are likely going to lose one, but with the door opening extremely wide for them to lose the two that they don’t tag suddenly the temperature has likely risen.
Dak Prescott already has an enormous amount of leverage due simply to the position that he plays. You can factor in all sorts of other things on top of that if you’d like, but objectively we all agree that he has far more working in his favor than either Amari Cooper or Byron Jones. Now Dak’s camp has a new factor putting wind behind their sails - if you don’t get the deal done as soon as possible now, you might lose your other two as a result of it.
In an ideal world the Cowboys would get a deal done with Prescott (or really any of the three) before any of this happens which would allow them to still protect another and buy time to work on that extension. The reality for them though is that with a new CBA gaining serious steam so is the notion that their protected player group is dropping by 50%.
It should also be said that it’s possible that a new CBA even expedites the talks between a player and the Cowboys. Plenty of players have likely been waiting for the new CBA so as to get as many benefits through it as possible.
Time is ticking.