Dak Deadline: Cowboys Have 5 Contractual Options

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys under the Jones family have a history of getting what they want - often just in the nick of time. Dak Prescott has a history of achievement in Dallas ... and by July 15, the deadline to either execute a long-term deal or play under the tag tender in 2020, he hopes to achieve yet again.

When the situation is boiled down in its simplest terms, the Cowboys  are essentially left with five options. Each of the options come with positives and negatives. They are ...

1) STAND PAT WITH THE TAG - Prescott gets $31.409 million this year. That's that. It's fully-guaranteed. Cash the check. Get ready for the season.

POSITIVE: If anybody in the building is still not sold on Prescott as the long-term guy, this serves as (another) "prove-it'' set-up.

NEGATIVE: A non-commitment can be damaging to a team's locker room, especially, we believe in this case, where Prescott has universal support among teammates.

2) TAG HIM TWICE - It's legal, and in 2021, he gets $37.68 million, fully-guaranteed. That’s $69.08 million for two years.

POSITIVE: The Cowboys have contractual control. Yay.

NEGATIVE: Lots of 'em. If the 2021 cap remains flat, $37.68 mil represents an inordinate percentage of that cap, hurting Dallas' chances of "affording'' talent alongside him. And then there is the "non-commitment'' issue, times two.

One more thought along these lines: ProFootballTalk.com is suggesting that maybe we take this to a third tag year. And yes, that is legal, too. But in 2022, that tag number is $54.25 million. "That’s a three-year cash flow of ... $123.33 million ... a tremendous amount of leverage,'' writes PFT.

But ... no. That's not anybody's plan. The Cowboys, based on their present mindset, anyway, will bend in many other ways before they execute a "triple-tag,'' which would cost them $41.11 million average per year - fully-guaranteed, fully-cap-crushing and $6 million more per year than is there present intention.

If Dallas is going to end up giving Dak $41.11 million per year for the next three years, as PFT suggests ... the Cowboys should simply give that to him now, in the form of an actual contract. And that's $6 million more per year than Dallas presently has on the table.

3) GIVE INTO THE 4-YEAR REQUEST: As we've long-reported in this space, Prescott agent Todd France of CAA has counter-proposed to Dallas' five-year/$35 million average per year offer a four-year idea.

The dollars in that four-year proposal (designed to give Dak another bite of the financial apple after 2022, when there will be a new TV contract and a cap explosion upward) are not known.

Assuming the existing four-year idea coming from Dak's camp is "realistic'' (in terms of the APY) ... give into it. Get it over with.

POSITIVE: Long-term "labor peace'' between the franchise and its "face of the franchise'' is highly-desirable, in whatever form. 

NEGATIVE: Dallas doesn't want to do this dance again any time soon. Nor does it want to expand its APY to the point where "all the slices of the pie fit.''

4) WORK WITH THE 5-YEAR OFFER: Prescott's side doesn't want to do the longer five years. But a compromise could come, in theory, if the dollars are larger. Is there a way for both sides to anticipate what Dak might make on the open market in 2024 (when he would be free, based on his four-year desire)?

POSITIVE: The longer the deal, the more spread-out the cap impact can be - which can allow Prescott to have more high-priced, highly-skilled teammates. 

NEGATIVE: Not many. The Cowboys get "desired years'' and Prescott gets "desired money'' - again, assuming that France's magic APY number is reasonable enough. (Worth noting: We reported in September that Prescott personally viewed $30 million APY as a "threshold'' of what great QBs are paid. We're way beyond that now ... But it suggests that the magic number doesn't have to be ridiculous.)

5) LET'S GET CRAZY!: "Crazy'' with creativity, that is. This is where Patrick Mahomes' new 10-year extension with Kansas City comes into play. A 12-year commitment? Let's talk about it. Creating the first-ever "percentage-of-the-cap'' contract (which was incorrectly rumored to be in the Chiefs deal)? Let's talk about it. Hiding an "option bonus'' in Year 2 (a la Carson Wentz in Philadelphia)? Let's talk about it. Real guarantees (a la Kirk Cousins in Minnesota) in exchange for lower totals)? 

POSITIVE: A discussion about "creativity'' is at least a discussion. Someone, soon, is going to pick up the phone. Someone bold will have to say, "Let's get crazy!''

NEGATIVE: None. Let the negotiation pendulum swing wildly with ideas in a few directions between now and July 15 ... and maybe the pendulum will settle in a new middle, with some clever ways for the franchise-tagged Prescott to simply be the franchise QB Prescott

Comments (2)
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  1. Trade Him! He is not that good! Get someone else in the draft next year! Watch Dalton light it up!

Dak is the QB for the foreseeable future....people need to quick with this Andy Dalton crap....