The Dak Prescott contract saga has been the talk of the offseason, especially concerning Cowboys fans. Prescott is one of the more polarizing players across the league and is coming off of his best individual season as a pro, but the Cowboys have yet to reward him with a contract extension.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season and the salary cap is likely playing a role in extending players. Sure, we have seen the Chiefs recently sign Patrick Mahomes to a large deal, but the market had been mostly quiet this offseason. Chris Jones was another player awaiting an extension, but he inked a four-year deal with Kansas City on Tuesday. Still, players such as Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffen are still free agents and are looking for a deal to sign.
Quarterback is certainly the most important position in football, if not all sports. That makes these contract talks between Dallas and Prescott even bigger. Prescott has been a bargain for the Cowboys while playing on a fourth-round rookie contract, and he believes he deserves to cash-in now.
Unless something changes between now and Wednesday, Prescott will be playing on the franchise tag — giving him $31.4 million for the 2020 season, a significant pay raise from what he was making previously. However, if Prescott does end up playing on the tag, history is not on the side of Prescott remaining in Dallas for very long.
#Cowboys QB @dak is the 8th QB to be designated a franchise player since 1993 but only 2 have actually played a season under the tag— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) May 27, 2020
• Drew Brees in 05 (Chargers)
• Kirk Cousins in 16 & 17 (Redskins)
Both would go on to sign deals with a different team the following season
Both Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins played a season under the franchise tag. Brees would leave the San Diego Chargers before elevating his game under Sean Payton with the New Orleans Saints. It is probably safe to say that things worked out for Brees in the long-run.
Cousins, meanwhile, played two seasons under the tag with Washington. Washington selected Cousins in the same draft as Robert Griffin III, and the Michigan State product emerged as the starter after RG3 battled injuries. Despite being a productive signal-caller, Washington — a franchise not known for making smart or good decisions — let Cousins walk.
The Vikings jumped at the opportunity to bring Cousins to their team, inking him to a fully-guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal — the biggest deal in league history at the time. While Cousins has his doubters, he has proven to be a quality quarterback in Minnesota and is certainly underrated within the national media. Washington is still trying to find their franchise quarterback, and it remains to be seen if Dwayne Haskins is the answer.
Interestingly enough, it was Cousins that gave Prescott some advice regarding playing on the franchise tag. The former Washington signal-caller told Prescott to embrace it and to use the tag “to your advantage”.
“I believe the franchise tag can be your friend. I don’t think it’s something to be disappointed with. I think it enables you to be well-compensated, and deservedly so, for the upcoming season.”
“And then I always say the cream will rise to the top. If you’re good enough the cream’s gonna rise to the top and you’re gonna get compensated the way you want to. Sometimes it doesn’t happy as quickly as you would like, but if you deserve it and you’ve earned it, it’s gonna happen. So you’ve just got to stay the course and stay patient. And certainly in my journey it all worked out. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.”
“And so my message to Dak, when I saw him midseason last year, was hey, whatever happens, don’t be afraid of the tag, it can be your friend and you can use it to your advantage.”
Cousins certainly used the franchise tag to his advantage, cashing-in in a big way. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out on Monday that from Cousins’ first season on the tag through 2020 “will have earned more money than any player in the NFL”.
If Dak Prescott does not sign a long-term deal by Wednesday’s deadline and goes the Kirk Cousins route, it could pay off financially:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 13, 2020
From 2016 - his first season under the franchise tag - through 2020, Cousins will have earned more money than any player in the NFL: pic.twitter.com/v57HBPweie
Prescott holds the leverage in negotiations, but it does not appear the Cowboys are ready to bite just yet. The Mississippi State product is coming off a 4,902-yard, 30-touchdown campaign a season ago and his trajectory appears to be trending upwards.
The addition of Mike McCarthy at head coach and the continuity with Kellen Moore as play-caller are just two reasons that make it logical to assume that Prescott will continue to improve his game. Dallas would be smart to go ahead and lock in their franchise signal-caller for the foreseeable future.
If they do not, however, the history is not on the side that Prescott will be in Dallas for too much longer.