FRISCO - The NFL’s window for using the franchise tag is now open. So, a source tells us, are the talks between the Dallas Cowboys and free-agent QB Dak Prescott.
But the Cowboys need to be open to something else: A "Dak Doomsday'' scenario - a plan that would allow them to trade Prescott, sometime soon, as the deadline clock ticks ... all just in case a long-term deal is not forged in time.
Former NFL team executive Bryan Broaddus of 105.3 The Fan reports that his survey of league officials suggests that Dallas could get "two first-round picks'' in a Prescott trade.
National reporter Peter King, writing about a Dak peer in Houston QB Deshaun Watson, has guessed that it would take six premium pieces - Chase Young, another starter and three or four high picks - for, say, Washington to win the bidding on Watson.
And ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum, a former NFL GM, suggest a Texas quarterback swap with the Cowboys pulling off a sign-and-trade with Prescott for Watson.
“They could get (Prescott) signed and they could trade him straight-up for Deshaun Watson,” Tannenbaum recently noted. “It’s player-for-player. It solves one problem for one team and another for Dallas. ... (the Cowboys) get a player who is slightly better under contract for five years.”
All of these concepts about the path of the Cowboys, who have until March 9 to make a decision on whether to use the franchise-tag designation on Prescott for the second straight season, are speculative. But the point is, Dallas owes it to itself to explore just enough to know more about the "doomsday'' details beyond "speculation.
As we at Sports Illustrated revealed early Tuesday, the Cowboys are optimistic about the team’s chances of reaching a long-term deal with Prescott rather than using the tag. As we wrote:
“The Dallas Cowboys, aware of the deadline milestones that are approaching quickly, have opened talks with Dak Prescott’s agent and, a source tells CowboysSI.com, are ‘hopeful’ of sealing a long-term deal before the franchise-tag deadline of March 9 ... The franchise-tag window opens on Tuesday – but in a very literal sense, at this moment, Dallas cannot “afford” to tag him. The Cowboys have two weeks to create an agreement. Without that, Prescott will by the next deadline of March 9 be given a second tag, this one coming at a cost of $37.7 million.”
In other words, the tag is not a present option (barring a series of contractual restructures with other Cowboys players) because Dallas cannot afford it.
Eventually, the Cowboys can and will create some restructures and maybe even some drastic cuts to help. But at the same time, if there is nothing that can be done to "help'' both sides agree to a long-term deal? The Cowboys need to know the landscape in terms of what could come next.
Two first-rounders? More? A blockbuster trade that brings back a Pro Bowl QB? These are all just educated guesses. The Cowboys cannot afford to guess what might be available and therefore be caught off-guard.
The Cowboys need to know. So it's no insult to Prescott, and it's no sign of a lack of commitment, that they prepare - just in case - for a "Dak Doomsday Deal.''
CONTINUE READING: Dallas Cowboys 'Hopeful' As Talks Open With Dak