Now that the no-deal happened, can everybody put it behind them, or will there be repercussions in the future?
What once seemed unthinkable took form Wednesday afternoon when the deadline for signing the quarterback to a long-term deal came and passed. Prescott isn’t hurting financially. He’ll play this season on the exclusive franchise tag of $31.4 million, a figure six times more than what he’s earned his first four years in the NFL.
The problem is neither side got what it wanted. The issue is the uncertainty it fosters.
The principals will do what they can to minimize the damage when they do talk in the coming days and weeks. Club officials will continue to profess their faith in Prescott and his leadership. The quarterback will talk about what a privilege it is to play for the Cowboys and his drive to take this franchise back to the Super Bowl.
This won’t be business as usual. There are cracks in the foundation.
You can’t spend more than 16 months trying to reach a deal, fail, then have both sides claim there’s no emotional fallout. You can’t watch friends and teammates Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence receive lucrative, long-term contracts and not feel left out.
You can’t claim you want to be part of this going forward then do everything in your power to extract every, last dime — plus a little more — in negotiations because you can.
No blame should be cast. Neither side is at fault, although social media took tremendous glee in bashing both parties.
Not only will the Cowboys be hamstrung financially in 2020 by not reaching a deal with Dak Prescott, 2021 could be bad, too.
A second franchise tag on Prescott would cost the Cowboys $37.68 million in 2021, regardless of what happens to the league’s salary cap because of the coronavirus pandemic next season.
If the salary cap stays flat because of a lack of revenues for the NFL in the 2020 season, then the Cowboys could be in a challenging situation. The 2020 cap is $198.4 million. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the 2021 cap is projected to be $212 million based on normal circumstances, which would allow the Cowboys to have $36.2 million in room.
But if the cap does not increase, the Cowboys would be down to roughly $22 million in room if they don’t carry over any unused space from 2020. It’s easy to see that Prescott’s $37.68 million tag would not fit under that cap amount and Dallas would have to get creative in its accounting.
That creativity could lead the Cowboys to release players but will definitely lead to the restructuring of a number of contracts that would eat into the team’s cap room in future years. That is a mechanism the Cowboys have been routinely criticized for by capologists, who seem to ignore how much other teams do add to future cap figures by restructuring.
Could the Cowboys ownership have overestimated the idea of playing in Dallas being a perk?
Perhaps you guys can help me understand why the Cowboys seem to have so much difficulty negotiating long-term contracts compared to other teams in the league? Is it stubbornness or are they constantly trying to get greater value than what the market sets? – DAVE SMITH / LIVERMORE, CA
Nick: I don’t know if I’d agree that this is a trend. Jerry said last summer about Zeke, “when have I never gotten a deal done?” So this doesn’t always happen and truthfully, they haven’t really missed out on Dak yet. They can keep him for two more years if they want to. But Jerry is a businessman and he’s always been a tough negotiator. In this case, it sounds like the Cowboys were trying make Dak a top 5 QB financially. And there’s not many people who would rank him a top 5 QB in ability. So I don’t think they were trying to get added value.
David: I’ll give you two suggestions. Firstly, I’d point out that we pay much closer attention to the Cowboys’ contract negotiations than any other team’s. So I’m not sure it’s fair to say that no other team in the league deals with these issues – because honestly I don’t know if that’s true or not. But I will say this: it’s obvious that the front office views playing for the Dallas Cowboys as an enormous perk. They have said as much. It’s hard to disagree with them. Cowboys players are far more visible and far more lucrative than many of their counterparts because they play for the biggest, most popular team in the NFL. But when the front office approaches negotiations with that mindset, they’re not always going to see eye-to-eye with the player about the fair value of the deal. In my personal opinion, I think some of their problems stem from that.
Michael Irvin on how he avoided being drafted by Packers; Darren Woodson recalls wild story of how he met the WR - Staff, DMN
The Playmaker recalled some wild stories from his days in Dallas.
On how he avoided being drafted by Green Bay:
Irvin: “Back then, in order to go to the NFL early, you had to graduate early. I graduated. When I went into the draft, I had control over the draft in this sense. If any team drafted me that I didn’t want to play for, I could drop a class, finish up in summer school, the team would lose a draft choice and then I could apply for a supplemental draft.
“So Green Bay called with the seventh pick of the draft. They were like, ‘Michael, we’re thinking about drafting you.’ We were at home because they didn’t invite juniors to the combine at the time. We were at home and I started saying, ‘Green Bay!?’ Man, it’s cold in Green Bay. And the whole family started saying, ‘No way, Green Bay! No way, Green Bay!’ And we’re the brokest people in the world. What the [expletive] we talking about, ‘No way, Green Bay?’ But I knew that Dallas would draft me at 11. They didn’t even call, they just made the draft pick.”
Donovan Wilson has a chance to make a name for himself this season.
If the preseason games were a true indication of what to expect, then Donovan Wilson might be headed for great things.
And who knows, perhaps the former Texas A&M standout will become a great player for the Cowboys. He certainly shined when given the chance last preseason – picking off three passes, easily the most of anyone else on the defense.
Wilson, a sixth-round pick in 2019, did enough to make the 53-man roster. But once the games started to count for real, he didn’t have a huge role at all. In fact, he was inactive five times last year and in the game he did suit out, Wilson didn’t record a tackle on defense and just two on special teams.
But then again, all Wilson can do is thrive when he gets the chance to play. Maybe he showed the former coaching staff that he wasn’t ready by the way he practiced or prepared during the week. Or maybe players like Woods, Jeff Heath and Darian Thompson were all better options.
But as Wilson enters his second pro season, there aren’t a lot of other obstacles standing in his way. The Cowboys didn’t draft a safety and only signed one rookie free agent for the position.
If Wilson makes the usual progress of a second-year pro, look for him to compete for playing time, if not a starting job.
There is word on how the league might handle players who test positive for COVID-19 this season.
Per a league source, the league intends to change the injured reserve rules to create a COVID-19 classification. Players who test positive will be placed on the COVID-19 list for three weeks, creating a roster spot that would then be filled with a player who is negative for the virus.
The players on the COVID-19 list would be paid their normal salaries.
It’s unclear what will happen if a player on the COVID-19 list can’t return after three weeks, at which time he will be eligible to return to practice. He must be returned to the active roster within three weeks after that, or he will revert to IR (absent an injury settlement).
The goal will be to keep the roster strong and to avoid shutting players down for the full season. The broader objective will be to keep the league from collapsing if teams suffer outbreaks that shut them down.
Yahoo’s Charles Robinson had a great write-up regarding the Dak Prescott situation. He joined us on the podcast network to talk about everything that went down this week.
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