The Dallas Cowboys have a little over two weeks to get a long-term deal done with Dak Prescott. Whether that deal gets done is still in question. There are those who think Prescott deserves a new deal, and those that don’t.
The subject of deserves is obviously a difficult one to quantify and that’s why it is helpful to have some experts weigh in. NFL Media’s analytics expert Cynthia Frelund recently pondered over players around the league that deserve new contracts. Here is her logic.
Using my win-share model results and forward-looking projections to estimate future win impact, I’ve ranked 10 high-profile players in line for potential new deals according to the urgency with which their teams should approach negotiations, with the universal caveat that adjustments made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic could throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings. You can see all 10 players ranked below, listed along with 2020 win-share projections and my model’s deal priority ratings (these are presented on a scale from 1, or least urgent, to 10, or most urgent).
Quarterbacks have a big impact in the game of football and that is why they are so valuable. That is part of the argument of those pushing for paying Dak, the play that he has exhibited to this point combined with the position that he occupies merits a franchise quarterback contract.
It should come as no surprise to you that the most-deserving player of a new contract by Frelund’s methodology is Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes. What he has done to this point in his career is remarkable and soon enough his contract will more closely reflect his value to that organization.
Frelund actually has Mahomes tied with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in first place as players that are most-deserving of new deals. Given that they were taken in the same draft not too far apart and their current financial values are somewhat similar, that makes a bit of sense.
Dak Prescott may have signed his franchise tag on Monday which upped his own financial value for 2020, but that doesn’t change that he is high on this list. He comes in at number two behind Mahomes and Watson’s first-place tie.
2020 win-share projection: 4.5 (QB 11). Deal priority rating: 8.
Prescott, who signed his $31.4 million exclusive franchise tag this week, has until July 15 to sign a long-term extension with the Cowboys. His ranking here is interesting, because Dallas’ non-QB offensive players have a higher collective win-share total than the supporting casts of all but two teams. In other words, the Cowboys’ offensive line, running backs and pass-catchers add a lot more win-share value than most quarterbacks work with around the league. And yet, Prescott is crucial to the Cowboys’ success. Consider that Next Gen Stats show Prescott ranked third in the NFL in passing yards per attempt on passes of 10-plus air yards (13.0) in 2019; he also threw 18 touchdowns on such passes (third-best). And for all the value the receivers add, Dak’s pass-catchers dropped the most passes in the NFL (43), per Pro Football Focus. If he ends up playing on the tag, Dak will be the seventh-highest paid QB in the NFL on an average annual basis, per Over the Cap.
Cynthia Frelund outlines in her analysis that Dak Prescott has more around him in terms of the offense he operates than most quarterbacks do around the league. This has been argued by some to be a crutch for Dak Prescott and noted to be something that should be a factor in negotiations, more than anything it highlights just how much talent the Cowboys theoretically have all throughout their offense.
If we are to assume that Dak is among the top quarterbacks in the NFL (say top 10 for the purposes of this discussion) and that he has one of the best ensembles around him, then the future of the Cowboys, especially under Mike McCarthy, should be prosperous. While it is never ideal to give up a lot of money for a player the reality is that Dak has a strong statistical résumé.