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Cowboys news: Breaking down the winners and losers from the Dak Prescott stalemate

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Plus, more news on the failed negotiations between the Cowboys and their star quarterback.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

ICYMI: Cowboys fumble opportunity to secure Dak Prescott long-term, franchise tag deadline passes with no deal - Cole Patterson, Blogging The Boys

In case you were living under a rock yesterday, the Cowboys and Dak Prescott failed to agree to a long-term deal.

Although it may not be a huge sample size in terms of quantity, it is certainly worth taking into account. Most teams extend their quarterback before the franchise tag is a viable option, but the Cowboys have decided to not go that route and are risking losing the face of their franchise in the long-run because of that.

The franchise tag will pay Prescott $31.4 million this season, and if the team opts to place the tag on him again next offseason (which would be very likely), Prescott will earn more than $37 million in 2021 — giving him a total of $69.1 million over the next two years. If the Cowboys choose to place the tag on Prescott for a third time (not as likely but still a possibility), that number rises to $123.3 million over three years before hitting free agency in 2023.

No deal for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys - Picking winners, losers and dominoes - Bill Barnwell, ESPN.com

Winners, losers, and what dominoes will fall now that Dallas and Prescott officially failed to reach an agreement.

This doesn’t do the Cowboys any favors. For one, unless Prescott totally bombs in 2020, his price is only going to go up. History tells us that quarterbacks only get more expensive with each passing year. Watson is likely to sign an extension this offseason, and Prescott will be able to negotiate off that deal next offseason. The salary cap, which typically rises every year, also makes it so that player salaries grow each season.

Things could be different in 2021, but that’s going to hurt Dallas more than it will hurt Prescott. As I mentioned back in May, the salary cap in 2021 might shrink as a result of a reduction in local revenue. The NFL and NFLPA are in negotiations to try to smooth any possible cap reduction by spreading it over several years, but there’s no guarantee the two sides will come to an agreement.

The problem for the Cowboys is that while their cap number is tied to revenue, Prescott’s cap number for 2021 is tied to his 2020 salary. If they can’t get Prescott to sign a long-term extension next offseason, they’ll be forced to either let him leave for nothing more than a possible third-round compensatory pick or pay him $37,690,800 for the 2021 season. The price tag would be the same regardless of whether Dallas uses the franchise or transition tag to retain Prescott, so there’s little reason for the team to choose the latter option.

If Prescott’s number rises while the cap falls, the Cowboys could be in an extremely vulnerable position this time next year. The league’s standard salary cap in 2020 is $198.2 million, and Dallas was able to roll over $19.5 million in unused space in 2019 for a total of $217.7 million. Prescott’s one-year, $31.4 million franchise tag amounts to 14.4% of the team’s cap.

If Jerry Jones always gets his man, what stopped him from extending Cowboys QB Dak Prescott? - Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News

Over the years Jerry Jones has built the reputation of always getting his man. Why didn’t he with Prescott?

Most organizations seem to intuitively understand that quarterbacks are not only more important than running backs, good ones are so much harder to find. Ask Cleveland. It’s why they’re so much more expensive than running backs. Jerry certainly didn’t have any problem paying Tony Romo. For that matter, he’s often paid top dollar by position. As he’s reminded us more than once, if he wants to keep a guy, he does.

But as Wednesday’s missed deadline proved, Dak has confounded Jerry. Once the owner didn’t get a deal done after Dak’s third season, we probably should have seen this coming. Carson Wentz and Jared Goff signed big extensions after their third seasons. But they also made significantly more money off their rookie contracts. Wentz, the second pick of the 2016 draft, earned a $17.6 million signing bonus, about four times what Dak has made the last four years combined. He’s making up for lost time and money by following Cousins’ lead.

Over the last four years, no one in the NFL has made more money than Cousins, who signed two tags with Washington and then a couple of lucrative contracts with the Vikings. You can argue that a quarterback who plays under the tag is taking a big gamble. What if he gets hurt? What if he plays poorly? What if he doesn’t win? All true. But it’s worked out far better for Cousins than it has for Washington since.

Film room: 3 Cowboys you shouldn’t forget about heading into camp, including a young safety with upside - John Owning, Dallas Morning News

Players that have the best chance of making an impact in 2020.

Bryant also helped spring Blake Jarwin for a touchdown against the New York Giants in early November, showing impressive hustle to get back in position to make a crucial block as Jarwin was en route to the goal line. This year, Bryant faces some seriously stiff competition to make the roster. He will compete with Wilson, Smith, Johnson and Noah Brown, plus undrafted rookies Aaron Parker, Stephen Guidry and Kendrick Rogers, for the last two or three receiver spots on the 53.

Although Kellen Moore was retained as offensive coordinator, Bryant needs to earn the respect of the new staff just as he did with the previous one. It’s not crazy to think the 6-3, 205-pound Bryant will do just that because it’s hard to find receivers with his size who are nimble enough to contribute on special teams and coordinated enough to have skills that can be developed.

Other names are generating more buzz, but Bryant has as good a shot as any of them to make the roster. As you contemplate the Cowboys’ complete receiver corps in 2020, don’t forget about Bryant.

Safety: Will Darian Thompson’s Role Increase? - Jonny Auping and Nick Eatman, Dallascowboys.com

The hope is that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is an upgrade at the safety spot.

HaHa Clinton-Dix, who signed a one-year deal in Dallas, will bring his own veteran presence to the Cowboys' locker room. The 27-year-old spent four of his six seasons in Green Bay with McCarthy, who drafted him out of Alabama. Last season, he signed a one-year deal in Chicago where he started 16 games. Over his career, Clinton-Dix has 522 tackles and 16 interceptions.

The expectations for the Cowboys' offense will be high, and the defense will need to hold up its end of the bargain. In a secondary with a number of intriguing young players, McCarthy clearly felt that Clinton-Dix can be depended on to start at safety without being considered a weak link. Clinton-Dix has given up some big plays over the course of his career, but he's also shown pretty tremendous ball skills over that span, and the Cowboys have at times seemed starved for turnovers over the past few seasons.

McCarthy also brought on another former member of his Packers' secondary to lead the unit. Former Pro Bowl cornerback Al Harris will serve as secondary coach under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. With the challenges faced due to various COVID-19 restrictions, it's set to be a particularly tough year to implement new faces. It's certainly helpful when some of those new faces in the coaching staff and even players are familiar with the man in charge and how he conducts his team.

Rank'Em: After Dak, Who Else Needs New Deal? - David Helman and Nick Eatman, Dallascowboys.com

Who other than Dak do the Cowboys need to be look at extending?

So the July 15 deadline came and went. And here we are, with Dak Prescott still without a long-term contract. Now, he does have a rather hefty payday in front of him as he signed his $31.4 million franchise tag for this year, assuring that Prescott will be the Cowboys' quarterback for this year.

But without a long-term deal in place, the future is certainly cloudy for Prescott, who could be franchised again for around $38 million in 2021. But that could be problematic depending on what happens with the salary cap after what will likely be a unique season for the NFL in 2020.

But while no contract negotiation in the NFL has gained more attention than this one, the Cowboys will likely have other players seeking new deals as well. Let's look at 12 players, Dak included, that could potentially be next in line for a new payday.

BTB Podcast

There is no long-term deal for Dak Prescott which means that there is a lot to discuss.

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