Dallas Cowboys: Why Dak Prescott’s leverage grows by the day

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Even with the recent free agent signing of quarterback Andy Dalton, Dak Prescott’s leverage over the Dallas Cowboys continues to grow by the day.

Dak Prescott has the Dallas Cowboys in tough spot right now. No longer under contract, Dak Prescott has been slapped with the exclusive franchise tag. This makes it impossible for another NFL team to steal him away and pays him over $31 million this season in the process.

Dak, still eager for a multiyear deal, has not signed the offer. This relieves him of any offseason team obligations (meetings, mini-camps, training camp, etc…) but still promises to pay him fully as long as he eventually signs and reports before the start of the season.

The Dallas Cowboys have until July 15 to get a long-term deal hammered out. If they can’t, Dak will play 2020 on the tag and this already-ugly situation gets downright untenable heading into next offseason.

Fans eager for resolution have been growing impatient this offseason. Some are turning on the team and others are turning on the player. Regardless of which camp in which you may fall, the situation favors Dak Prescott more by the day.

Let’s play this whole thing out, shall we?

Step 1: A Dak Prescott Holdout

Dak Prescott may hold out this summer as a way to pressure the team to come to decision more quickly. With a new coaching staff in place, practices are more important than ever. As such, it seems wise to withhold services for a period of time. Such an act isn’t just accepted, but it’s expected.

Step 2: Report on Time

But nobody actually expects Dak to put the $31.5 million in jeopardy. A guy who’s only made $3.5 million in his career isn’t going to leave that amount of coin on the table after all.

If he plays on the tag this season his cost on the open market in 2021 will rise even more.  This is all but assured given the annual 8% QB inflation rate (discussed here) and after having another dominant season under his belt.

Dominant season, you ask…

Step 3: Build Value

What do you expect from the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2020? Consider it honestly. Dallas was a top-3 offense by most accounts last season, but now they upgraded their tight end, slot receiver, and coaching staff in the offseason.

Add in the natural progression from Tony Pollard, Michael Gallup, and Dak Prescott, and you have what could be THE top offense in the entire NFL (not just yards but points and DVOA). Especially considering the defense may struggle in Year 1 of Mike Nolan, the offense may be required to score ridiculous points.

What do you think that’s going to do to Dak Prescott’s stock?

Before Dak and Amari Cooper got hurt last season, Dak was a legit NFL MVP candidate already. If they both have healthy seasons in 2020…he’s going to be at Mahomes-level money.

Step 4: Offseason 2021

So if Dallas can’t re-sign Dak before July 15th this summer, and are forced to play him on the tag with their fully-loaded roster in the fall, they’re either going to have to tag him again or sign him to Patrick Mahomes money. If the Dallas Cowboys want to tag him again next season the cost goes up 20% over this year, meaning Prescott will cost roughly $37.8 million to tag.

The only other option is to trade him. But Dallas could only trade Dak at that point if they had roughly $40M in space to tag him first. And Dak would have to sign the tag right away while other teams still had cap space. And other said teams would have to come to a quick contract agreement.

As you can see, this is a very difficult situation for the Dallas Cowboys to win. Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys know this too, that’s why Dak has all the leverage. If this drags on past July 15th the Cowboys are hosed.

It also means annual compensation begins at $34.65M since that’s the average cost of franchising Dak these next two years. If Dallas wants to lock him in longer than that, they’ll need to pay more than that annually. It’s pretty simple.

The Andy Dalton factor

The idea that Andy Dalton’s presence somehow impacts Dak Prescott’s leverage in long-term contract negotiations is popular in some Dallas Cowboys fans circles these days. The basic idea is Dak is a replacement level talent and Andy Dalton can be just as good as Dak in an offense like this.

More from Dallas Cowboys

Forget for a moment their evaluation of Andy Dalton and/or Dak Prescott is laughably delusional, instead we just have to look at what we know: The Dallas Cowboys are willing to commit somewhere between $33-35M over 5-years to keep Dak, but were unwilling to sign Dalton for more than one year at $3-7M. That right there tells you they value Dak more than 5x more than Andy this year alone.

We also need to accept Dak is going to play because $31.5 million is a lot of money for a guy who’s long been chronically underpaid his entire career. He’s not going to sit out and open the opportunity for anyone else. He’s going to play and drive up his value. Each day that goes by he’s getting closer to that moment. The moment where his value goes to astronomical levels.

Predicting the Cowboys Final 53 man roster. dark. Next

The only people who think Andy Dalton changes things for Dak Prescott and his negotiations with the Dallas Cowboys are those who don’t think Dak is a good QB. No one in an NFL front office thinks this. Later this week we’ll dive into Dalton as an investment this year. He’s a great signing that tells us a lot about the Cowboys outlook this season.

  • Published on 05/06/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 05/06/2020 at 11:47 AM