How the Cowboys will have a huge financial advantage going forward

Jan 15, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) under center against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) under center against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

With their starting quarterback playing on the cheap, the Dallas Cowboys have a huge financial advantage over the rest of the league for possibly the next 5-6 seasons.

The Dallas Cowboys could have a major advantage these next few seasons, provided they assess talent correctly. If they play their cards right, the moves they make today could have a positive effect for the next half-a-dozen years.

Dak Prescott currently gives the Dallas Cowboys something very few NFL teams ever get to experience – inexpensive franchise quarterback play. For the next three seasons Dak Prescott is under contract for less than $1 million per season. In an age where the average franchise arm typically pulls in $20 million per season, Prescott offers Dallas significant savings.

Savings that can be used elsewhere.

The money that Dak Prescott saves the Cowboys doesn’t go to Jerry Jones’ retirement fund; it gets invested elsewhere on the team.  That means the Dallas Cowboys can afford to sign and/or re-sign players they otherwise couldn’t afford to (and in a way they normal wouldn’t structure a deal).

Last week Todd Archer touched on the subject when he mentioned Tony Romo’s salary, combined with Dak’s cheap contract, will afford the Cowboys to frontload a contract extension for guard Zack Martin. While frontloading a deal deviates from the Cowboys normal way of doing things, it takes advantage of the unique situation the Cowboys now enjoy.

Down the road

This isn’t just about the next two years. It’s about much further down the road as well. If Dak really is everything he appears to be – a franchise quarterback – then the Dallas Cowboys will need to pony up some cash sooner rather than later. So if we’re being honest, Dak is going to be given a shiny new mega-contract BEFORE his rookie contract expires.

In other words, Dallas probably only has two years of cheap QB1 pay and as such, they must take advantage of that immediately. They do so by offering multiple frontloaded contract extensions to players they want to build around.

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We know Zack Martin is going to get his extension shortly. The deal will very likely be the biggest contract for a guard in the NFL. Considering his age and the Cowboys financial situation, frontloading it to some extent seems a forgone conclusion.

Such a move takes advantage of the Cowboys inexpensive QB situation.  But the savings don’t stop there. They continue well beyond the two or three cheap years Prescott offers.

Consider this:

While the first half of the frontloaded contract may be expensive year-to-year, the second half would offer cost savings. Those cost savings would come at a time when Dak Prescott’s (and Ezekiel Elliott’s, for that matter) second contract come into play.

Once the first two or three years of cheap QB1 and RB1 pay expire, the Dallas Cowboys can go back to their preferred method of backloading deals. That means, provided they assess talent correctly and invest in the right players, their roster will be abnormally loaded with talent for the next 5-6 seasons.

That provides an enormous window of opportunity for the Prescott-led Cowboys.

The right deals for the right players

Giving a big deal to the wrong player negates any advantage Prescott gives them right now. That’s why it’s extremely important they invest in the right guys. It’s also a reason they had little interest in paying inconsistent players like Morris Claiborne or J.J. Wilcox, or in nearly over-the-hill players like Brandon Carr and Barry Church.

The Dallas Cowboys are wise to avoid giving out speculative contracts as well. They last did that with Tyrone Crawford and that has not turned out well for them. Zack Martin is a perfect player to re-sign to a frontloaded deal. His risk is minimal. That’s how they must assess their contract extensions the next two seasons because they can’t afford to squander this special opportunity.

Next: Tyrone Crawford is playing for his job in 2017

The Dallas Cowboys potentially have a huge financial advantage going forward. With such few dollars going to what is typically the most expensive position on the team, they can devote money elsewhere and build a team to dominate for the next 5-6 years.