The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott finally agreed to a deal. The fact that the Cowboys will have Prescott for the next four years is a good thing. The fact that the Cowboys had to pay what they did is the result of the quarterback market being what it is, and the fact that they whiffed on getting a financially better deal done earlier.
The structure of the deal is not overly-complicated. Mike Florio does a great job of laying it out in this article at PFT so we’ll just summarize the highlights.
The deal is actually for six years with a couple of voidable years tacked on the end to help absorb the signing bonus. Todd Archer proposed a similar structure earlier this offseason and O.C.C. broke it down in this article.
Prescott is getting the largest signing bonus in league history ($66 million). His base salary of $9 million in 2021 means he’ll get $75 million in the first year, another record. Prescott gets a $20 million base salary in 2022 which is also guaranteed. That salary escalates to $31 million in 2023 and is guaranteed unless they cut him by the fifth day of the 2022 league year, which means it’s basically guaranteed. His 2024 base salary is $29 million plus a $5 million roster bonus.
The numbers certainly help bring down the potential cap hit the Cowboys would be facing this year, but it will be expensive down the line. The hope is that an elevated salary cap from the new TV deals that are coming will help the Cowboys absorb those future cap hits.
But as far as Prescott is concerned, he has to be very happy with this contract. According to Florio, the Cowboys will still officially tag Prescott this year so that if they ever do it again, it will be at the highly inflated number of a third-year tag. They won’t need that, though, because Prescott will get a no-tag clause inserted before the contract is officially signed, and will also get a no-trade clause.
As for the immediate payment over the next four years compared to other contracts around the league, Prescott is cashing in, and will be ready for another contract when he’s 31 years old.
At a minimum, Prescott has a three-year, $126 million deal. With no tag available in 2025, the Cowboys will surely try to convert the last year of the deal into a new contract. If not, he gets $160 million over the next four years. That’s $29.3 million more than Mahomes will make over the next four years, and he’ll still be under contract for seven years after that.
The deal also compares very favorably to the first four years of money paid to other top quarterbacks under their current deals. The $160 million payable to Prescott from 2021 through 2024 exceeds the first four years of Russell Wilson‘s current deal by $29 million. As to the first four years of Aaron Rodgers‘ current deal, it’s $35.5 million more. As to the first four years of Matt Ryan‘s current deal, it’s $42.5 million more. As to the first two years of Deshaun Watson‘s deal, it $49.2 million more. In comparison to the first four years of the Jared Goff contract, it’s $49.9 million more. As to the first four years of the Carson Wentz deal, it’s $56.1 million more. And as to the first four years of the Patrick Mahomes deal, the payout Prescott will receive exceeds the Mahomes contract by $56.4 million.
The Cowboys had to do it. It’s the price of doing business with a franchise QB. If they would have done it earlier, they probably would have gotten away with something a little cheaper. But it’s done.
Now comes the hard part. Winning big while paying your QB big.