Dak & DeShaun: What Do The Cowboys Have To Be Nervous About?
FRISCO - Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys are at a contractual impasse and just this side of "The Last Dance,'' it's probably the most talked-about subject in American sports.
"Yeah,'' one Cowboys official half-jokingly tells me, "because you media guys are bored.''
If you consider the rest of the 2020 NFL franchise-tag recipients ... he's got a point. ... though the buzz from Houston suggests we're about to have a different way to fill our time.
An extension for QB DeShaun Watson, the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson reports, now stands atop the Texans' priority list and "could range between $40 million and $42 million guaranteed" per season.
Now do we understand why Dak Prescott sits tight?
The Dallas QB has been tagged and has yet to sign that $31.409 million tag, and obviously, has yet to forge a new long-term deal. That's being treated as "alarming'' in some quarters, in part because what's on the table is a five-year offer from the Cowboys that includes $35 million APY and more than $106 million guaranteed, all of which would put Dak near the top of the heap among all-time NFL paydays. (Until and unless Watson gets his.)
So, should Cowboys Nation be worried? About the Watson angle, probably. But relative to the rest of the NFL transaction wire? Nah.
Let's examine the other 14 franchise-tag players in 2020, and the status for each:
Shaquil Barrett, OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tender NOT SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Bud Dupree, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Tender SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Tender NOT SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Anthony Harris, S, Minnesota Vikings: Tender NOT SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans: Tender SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers: Tender SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs: Tender NOT SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Matthew Judon, OLB, Baltimore Ravens: Tender NOT SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars: Tender NOT SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED, TRADE being discussed.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys: Tender NOT SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Justin Simmons, S, Denver Broncos: Tender NOT SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Brandon Scherff, G, Washington Redskins: Tender SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Joe Thuney, G, New England Patriots: Tender SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED, TRADE being rumored.
Leonard Williams, DE, New York Giants: Tender SIGNED, contract NOT SIGNED.
Let's add 'em up: The NFL presently has 14 players with franchise tags. Not only are all 14 of them not yet signed to long-term deals, but eight of them haven't even signed the tender yet! And three are subject of trade talks!
We can argue that Prescott's status as a QB creates an added level of uncertainly for the Cowboys, but ... the Bucs' Barrett topped the NFL with 19.5 sacks last year. The Steelers' Dupree was an 11.5 sacks guy. The Vikings' Harris tied for the league lead in interceptions with six. Ravens: The Ravens' Judon led the team in 2019 with 9.5 sacks. The Redskins' Scherff was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 Draft and is already a three-time Pro Bowler.
The Titans' Henry is the NFL's leading rusher!
These are critical players, all of them. And without contracts, all of them. Those facts don't lessen the importance of Dallas coming to terms with Dak Prescott. But maybe they lessen the panic. ... not counting DeShaun Watson (and eventually Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes) and Cowboys Nation's next way to fill the time.