Dak Wants 'Bulletproof' Cowboys Contract - Meaning What?
FRISCO - A supposed “update” on Dallas Cowboys contract negotiations with Dak Prescott is full of catchphrases and buzzwords. But is it also just full of ... it?
"Not worried'' ... "Nothing's going to get done.'' ... "In a good spot'' ... "A bullet-proof contract.''
Those are the concepts tossed out on the air over the weekend by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler ... and it's frankly challenging to establish whether his report is "advancing the ball'' (providing new news about the negotiations) or "filling a segment'' (as we know ESPN reporters are literally mandated to create Cowboys content - whether a story exists or not.)
Here's Fowler's full statement:
"I'm told the Cowboys are not worried right now. They're going to play this all the way up to the deadline and they're hopeful that Dak Prescott will take their latest, best offer. Whether that's a new offer at the deadline or their old offer because they didn't hash anything out a few months ago. It's been very quiet since then, to the point where several league sources believe that nothing's going to get done here because Dak already signed his franchise tag tender. It's maybe conceding that nothing's going to get done, but the Cowboys feel they're in a good spot.They're prepared for him to play under the franchise tag if necessary. Dak wants almost a bulletproof contract, solid four-year structure."
Let's deconstruct this, item-by-item:
ITEM: The Cowboys are unworried. This is an empty claim. Prescott signed his franchise tender, meaning he will play under a one-year, $31.409 million contract in 2020 if a new deal isn't agreed upon by Wednesday. So that "comfort'' is in Dallas' pocket.
A lack of "worry''? Everybody involved in every negotiation should dismiss "worry'' and keep working. Find us a GM who admits he's "worried'' about ongoing negotiations and we'll find you a GM who should be fired.
ITEM: They'll take it to the deadline. Indeed. "Deadlines Make Deals.'' Again, the ball has not been advanced here.
ITEM: They're hopeful that Dak Prescott will take their latest, best offer. Whether that's a new offer at the deadline or their old offer ... A confounding assertion. ESPN is essentially claiming that the Cowboys are going to both a) hold steady with "the existing offer'' (which as CowboysSI.com reported months ago is five years, $35 million average per year, with about $106 million in virtual guarantees) AND b) make a "new offer at the deadline''?
ITEM: Several league sources believe that nothing's going to get done ... We won't question the existence of the reporter's "several league sources'' here. We will doubt that any of those sources are named "Jerry Jones,'' "Stephen Jones,'' "Todd France'' or "Dak Prescott.''
ITEM: They're prepared for him to play under the franchise tag if necessary. Again, this is self-evident. We're not sure anybody truly views it as a "good spot.'' But it's clearly one of Dallas' five options, as we illustrate here.
By the way: Fowler reports that Dak signing the tender is somehow an indication that he's conceding there will be no further movement. That's simply false; doing so was, as much as anything, a good-faith move for a QB who wanted to get to work.
ITEM: Dak wants almost a bulletproof contract, solid four-year structure. Whoa. If this is true - not the "four-year'' part, which we have reported for months (Prescott wishing for a Russell Wilson-like "faster bite at the apple'' when the present TV contract expires after 2022) ... the other part.
The "bulletproof'' part.
This particular buzzword - "bulletproof'' - is not a common part of NFL contractual parlance. In our 38 years of covering the NFL, we can't say we've ever heard it used before. And in a few minutes of googling, it's similarly uncommon. So ... where did ESPN's Fowler come up with the concept of "Dak's bulletproof contract''? And what does it mean?
Maybe Fowler created the term on his own, in which case it means nothing. Is it a reference to the lawyerly desire to write a contract that is "unbreakable,'' "iron-clad'' - "bulletproof'' in that sense? "No,'' a prominent DFW attorney tells us.
And that's not a "football term'' we're aware of ...
It's certainly not a Cowboys concept. No matter the length of a long-term deal, it is customary for Dallas deals (and most teams') to feature "escape hatches.'' Even Kansas City's "$500 million deal'' with Patrick Mahomes has that.
Could it be an idea that seeped out of France's CAA office? And if so, what is its definition? "Iron-clad'' doesn't fit; all NFL contracts are that.
Is ESPN saying "bulletproof'' meaning "fully-guaranteed''? This would come under the heading of a "creative'' option ... but it would also become just the second contract in NFL history (joining Minnesota's Kirk Cousins) in being truly fully-guaranteed.
If ESPN and Fowler are reporting that the Cowboys and Prescott are actually discussing the idea of just the second fully-guaranteed contract in NFL history, they have a massive scoop ... but they've buried the lead by tucking it into the bottom of a video conversation - and they've failed miserably and compounded their error by not writing a corresponding story.
One NFL source who is close to these negotiations this weekend used the phrase "media herd mentality'' when speaking to us on this sort of subject, meaning that in this day and age, "speculation'' disguised as "news'' is somehow, sadly, acceptable.
"Isn't that how it works in today's 'Sportswriter World?''' the sourced jabbed.
We'll take that to mean this report - pending confirmation that Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys are contemplating an almost unprecedented deal - is nothing more than a collection of safety-in-the-herd buzzwords and catchphrases.