Why Dak Prescott Wants A 4-Year Deal (Or Fewer?)

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - It was not long ago when my analysis of Dak Prescott's contract negotiations with the Dallas Cowboys included this seemingly powerful take: "Dak cannot look the Joneses in the eye and say he should be paid like Russell Wilson.''

It was not long ago. But today, it seems like forever ago.

In speaking with people involved in the negotiations, some things as today's 3 p.m. CT deadline looms are unchanged. Has owner Jerry Jones in the past harbored questions about whether Dak is truly a "franchise QB,'' a "Super Bowl QB''? He has. But we were the first to report on Dallas' willingness to pay Prescott around $35 million APY on a five-year deal that would also include virtual guarantees of in excess of $106 million - and Jerry's willingness to write that check is, to him, also significant. 

While leaving Dak to play on the franchise tag of $31.409 million in 2020 remains an option - and as the clock ticks, it increases the likelihood that such an option is about to occur - those fat numbers - $35 million and $106 million - speak volumes, I think about Jerry's level of commitment.

They also resonate as they relate to Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks QB who has a resume of success that Prescott can, right now, only dream can be matched in Dallas.

A year ago, two-time Super Bowl QB Wilson signed a four-year contract extension with the Seahawks worth $140 million. 

Divide $140 million by four; that's $35 million - the number Dallas is already willing to give Dak.

Wilson's deal has $107 million in guarantees (and $70 million was fully guaranteed at signing).

That $107 million is essentially mirrored by the number Dallas is willing to give Dak. (The fully-guarantee portion is about out-of-pocket cash, and doesn't figure to be an obstacle for the Joneses.)

There can be a devil in other details (escape hatches that allow Seattle to part with its QB at some point are included in Wilson's deal and surely will be in Dak's). But really, the parallel between what Dallas is willing to give and what Seattle gave ... and what the two QBs have asked for ... is clear.

Four years.

Upon review, all Wilson has ever done in Seattle is sign four-year deals. The first one wasn't his choice; he was a non-first-round draft pick in 2012. But the second one, in 2015, was an extension of four years. And this one is the same. Wilson is presently 31. When he enters the final year of his latest deal, in the spring of 2023, he'll be 34 ... and, I'll bet, assuming he still wants to play, will begin negotiations on - you guessed it! - another four-year deal.

The short-term deal is the fulcrum in the Cowboys' "open-communication'' talks with Dak; as we've reported often, they'd like to wrap him up for a longer-term while Prescott wants another Wilson-like bite of the apple as soon as is reasonable following the 2022 season, after which a new TV deal will kick in, with an expected explosion in the salary cap - and players' salaries. (Sidebar: I've written a great deal about that explosion as it relates to TV. It's just now occurring to me that if the NFL finds its way into a tie with legalized gambling ... yeah. A double-explosion.)

Worth noting: I'll bet that agent Todd France has actually pushed for three years, due to that bite-of-the-apple wish - and that discussing four is, in Prescott's mind, concession enough. I'll also bet that France's four-year proposal includes a request for Dak to re-do'' that 2023 season - which would take some creativity on the part of the contract-writers and would mean Dallas almost agreeing to make it just three years. ... which simply hasn't been the Cowboys' approach. Ever. At all.

Once upon a time, it was a sound prediction that the Joneses will do what they've pretty much always done with "stars,'' and with franchise-tagged players: They come as close as they can to a win/win, and as close as they can to the deadline, and then, in many senses, they "give in.'' Dez Bryant. DeMarcus Lawrence. Ezekiel Elliott. Amari Cooper. The Joneses don't have a problem writing big checks ... especially at deadline time.

But most of the Cowboys' big deals have been spread over big years. Dez, Tank, Cooper, La'el Collins and Jaylon Smith signed for five years. Elliott and Zack Martin signed for six. Tyron Smith signed for eight! 

This does, at this moment, feel different. The Cowboys have their position. Prescott has his. And Dak's position is about a similarity to the Russell Wilson deal, a concept I found ridiculous not long ago but we find is reality today.

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