The Dallas Cowboys are going to need to make a lot of hard decisions this offseason. First and foremost, the Cowboys are going to need to determine how they feel about their leadership as it goes without saying that everything else is just a line of dominoes waiting to have that first one pushed down. But until a decision has been made there, we remain in the middle of confusion.
At some point though, the Cowboys will have an answer for their head coaching situation and then will focus on building a roster that is capable of not disappointing them in the playoffs. If only it were so easy.
Every offseason is similar, but this one is rather significant for the Cowboys in that they have some massive deals that they will likely have to take care of. As it stands, CeeDee Lamb is set to enter the 2024 season on the final year of his rookie contract and Micah Parsons is eligible for an extension for the first time in his career. Logic suggests both will get paid rather handsomely in the coming months.
But there is another contract extension for the Cowboys that feels inevitable, and where Parsons stands to become the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, Dak Prescott will likely become the highest-paid player period.
The Dak Prescott top of market extension feels inevitable given all details
What we are about to discuss is a list of facts. Whatever conclusion you would like to make as a result of them all is up to you.
Fact Number 1: CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons are both likely going to get paid this offseason
Bad job by me in starting off our list of “facts” with speculation, but this feels factual. There is no way that the Cowboys should let themselves even get to Oxnard with Lamb not having a long-term deal in place and given that Parsons has been exemplary throughout his first three seasons and can finally cash in on that, he may not even show up to California without a secured bag in hand.
Acknowledging that this is a probable reality, consider what the highest paid players at wide receiver and edge rusher make on an annual average basis as this offseason begins.
Top 5 highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL (AAV)
- Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins ($30M per year)
- Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders ($28M per year)
- Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams ($26.7M per year)
- A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles ($25M per year)
- Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills/D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks ($24M per year)
Keep in mind that the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals are going to be dealing with the wide receiver market this offseason as Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase are both likely ready to sign second contracts. The price will continue to soar.
Top 5 highest-paid edge rushers in the NFL (AAV)
- Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49rs ($34M per year)
- T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers ($28M per year)
- Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers ($27M per year)
- Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns ($25M per year)
- Montez Sweat, Chicago Bears ($24.5M per year)
Bosa is the most relatable comparison for Parsons and the most recent one of this group to get paid as he did right before the season began. It is not hard to see how this is going to be an incredibly expensive offseason for the Cowboys.
Fact Number 2: The Cowboys will need financial flexibility which a Dak Prescott extension not only can provide but is almost necessary to provide
At this moment in time, Dak Prescott’s cap number for 2024 is just south of $60M. That is not tenable for the franchise to absorb in general let alone as a result of the pending Lamb and Parsons deals, as well as literally everything else they will need/want to do in terms of shaping their roster.
The only way that Dallas can lower this number is by way of an extension and obviously Prescott is only going to (assuming here, but a safe one) be if he is compensated properly. This means a top of market deal.
Top 5 highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL (AAV)
- Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals ($55M per year)
- Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers ($52.5M per year)
- Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens ($52M per year)
- Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles ($51M per year)
- Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos ($49M per year)
These are obviously some incredible numbers, but they will look pedestrian this offseason in all likelihood. Consider that the top four here are all deals that were negotiated between the beginning of last offseason and the 2023 regular season starting. All four of them have annual average salaries in the 50s and soon enough the NFL will likely see someone in the 60s.
Could that someone be Dak? It certainly seems probable. Beyond the fact that the Cowboys need the cap space an extension with him can provide, they are in a lose-lose situation in that he has a no trade clause (so they can’t move on from him) and a no tag clause in 2025 (so if they do decide to even ride this out they risk him walking away for nothing next year). Simply put, Prescott has all of the leverage. Oh, and he is coming off of an incredible season (obviously the playoff loss was horrible).
For what it is worth, NFL salary cap experts agree that this all does feel inevitable. One loosely predicted something along the lines of $60M per year with $250M in guarantees.
Dak Prescott's performance against the Packers doesn't change that he has $59.455M 2024 salary cap number, a no trade clause & a provision preventing a franchise tag in 2025, which still gives him leverage in talks about a contract extension.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) January 15, 2024
The Packers got draft picks in return for Aaron Rodgers. If Dak Prescott waived his no trade clause because of a contract impasse, the Cowboys would have $61.915M of 2024 dead money with a trade bringing back 2024 draft capital. https://t.co/mPe3qCKHSa— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) January 15, 2024
Yep. If Dak Prescott empowers his representatives to do what they see fit, I suspect the end result will likely have a lot of people thinking WTF about the numbers. https://t.co/wwOACfb8gy— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) January 15, 2024
Twitter will be a wild place when Prescott winds up at $60M a year with like $250M in guarantees— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) January 15, 2024
Again we are talking about facts as they relate to the contractual status of Dak Prescott (and others) with the Dallas Cowboys. Everything points in one obvious direction and it is that the quarterback is likely going to receive the richest contract in the history of professional football. People will scream. It will be chaotic. But it does seem inevitable.