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Tag, you’re it! How holdups in the Dak Prescott negotiations could land Amari Cooper more money

The pendulum could be swinging for which player has the most leverage.

Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Raise your hand if you believe that Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper will both be playing for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020? Great. I’m glad to see that most of us are in agreement. Prescott and Cooper aren’t going anywhere.

Maybe your hand went up because both of these guys are great players and love watching them connect for big plays. Or maybe it’s because you’ve heard how emphatic Jerry and Stephen Jones have been when talking about retaining these guys. It’s not hard to see the picture that has been painted by this organization over the last few years. Big, I mean gargantuan, decisions have been made when it comes to these guys. Whether it’s moving on from Tony Romo or trading off precious draft capital, the team has already stamped their approval on the idea that these guys will remain in Dallas for many years to come. The only thing left to hash out is the price.

It’s that price that is causing all the discord in the two sides failing to have already come to an agreement. Of course, we use the term “discord” lightly because this type of disharmony is all part of the business that is the NFL.

With every new day that these guys remain unsigned, a greater sense of urgency starts to creep in as we near a deadline. And that deadline is March 12, which is a week from Thursday. That’s not very far away.

The deadline in question is the final day teams are allowed to place the franchise tag on players. With the possibility of only one tag being available, the Cowboys may have a tough decision to make. And what decision could that be? On the surface one might think the decision is who to tag - Prescott or Cooper in which some may question why that is even up for debate. It’s Dak, right? He gets tagged.

Absolutely it’s Dak. Jerry Jones has already made it clear that there is no way Prescott is entering the free market.

“I am not in any way going to not have his rights, for one minute.”

You can’t get any clearer than that.

One way to interpret this is simply Prescott is more important to this team than Cooper. That’s fair. Dak’s a quarterback. But what this decision really means is that the team will likely save more money by tagging Prescott and outright signing Cooper to a long-term deal before free agency begins.

The team has professed that they hope to get a deal done with Prescott before having to resort to using the franchise tag for him. Doing so would then allow them to tag Cooper and give themselves more time to work out his deal. If the front office is genuinely committed to keeping both players, then neither can hit the market. One gets paid, one gets tagged.

If plan A is getting Dak signed first, then it must mean the team is closer to a common ground on his contract than they are with Cooper. However, if for some reason they can’t get to the sweet spot, it may then be time to go with plan B, which would be to just give in and sign Cooper. Such a plan could result in Cooper eclipsing Odell Beckham Jr. in becoming one of the three highest paid wide receivers in the league. It may cost the Cowboys a little more money for Cooper, but if they’ve done their math right, it could ultimately lead to more money saved once they finally agree to terms with Prescott.

Prescott is the priority, but Cooper could be the beneficiary. If Dak gets tagged, the threat of being tagged is eliminated from Cooper, and the only thing that stands between him and the open market is a juicy new deal from the Cowboys. Conversely, if Dallas does manage to sign Prescott without having to used the franchise tag, then that’s bad news for Team Cooper as the chances he plays for the one-year rental price of $18.4 million increases quite a bit.

How do you think this thing plays out? If you can only tag one, who do you think makes the smarter choice?

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