The new league year officially begins on March 13th at 4:00pm ET. At that moment deals that have come together in the legal tampering period will become official. While the ball dropping on the NFL, so to speak, is an important part of official business, much of what happens at the exact moment in time happens in the lead up.
It has long been assumed that the Dallas Cowboys will be rather busy in the time leading up to this deadline as they have some contractual matters to take care of. While the new league year beginning will not impact the contractual situations of CeeDee Lamb (currently entering the final year of his deal) or Micah Parsons (eligible for an extension for the first time), there are other Cowboys players who will need to be retained.
If the Cowboys do want to have salary cap space to keep these players (Tyron Smith and Stephon Gilmore come to mind), or add new ones, then they are going to have to do something about quarterback Dak Prescott. As it stands Dak is entering the final year of his deal with the team and carries a salary cap charge of roughly $60M. Something has to be done.
The Cowboys can either strike a new deal with Dak Prescott that will get him paid, or they can restructure his contract and let him hit free agency in 2025. While we can sit here and debate the merits of any idea, Ian Rapoport on the NFL Network expects that Prescott and the Cowboys will have a new deal in place ahead of free agency. And in the report he mentions it should be a new deal.
The Insiders on @NFLGameDay: A look at some of the QBs who'll get paid this offseason, spotlighting #Vikings free agent QB Kirk Cousins, #Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, and #Cowboys QB Dak Prescott. pic.twitter.com/HbjdQiKM98— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 11, 2024
There is no question that Prescott has an enormous amount of leverage in this situation. He cannot be franchise tagged in 2025, and has a no-trade clause in his current contract, so unless the Cowboys come to terms that he likes he can simply ride the deal out and reach true free agency a year from now. That would be the restructure route and in that scenario the Cowboys risk losing him. While we can debate the value of Dak Prescott, that fact is he just finished second in MVP voting and would have many suitors on the open market.
The Cowboys will likely keep Prescott with a new deal, which would likely mean making him the highest-paid player in the NFL, and therefore in NFL history. It is likely that he will make something in the high 50s in terms of annual average value when this is all said and done. But they Cowboys would lower his 2024 cap hit
Buckle up and get ready.