FRISCO - Is there a "win-win'' available to a Dallas Cowboys team that seems to like (as opposed to "love'') Dak Prescott ... a "win-win'' that also allows the QB his desired quick additional "bite of the apple'' ... while also making it all cap-friendly?
As Tuesday's deadline to franchise-tag Prescott looms, get ready to hear more about this idea: A three-year contract, with two voidable ("dummy'') years tacked onto the end, all of which makes Dak the second-highest-paid player in NFL history.
The puzzle pieces ...
*The tag doesn't have to be wielded as a weapon; it can be a tool. That's happening right now with Denver safety Justin Simmons, another client of agent Todd France. The Broncos placed the tag on Simmons on Friday, but the involved parties talk openly about the desire for a long-term deal.
Dak's tag ($37.7 million) can simply be a placeholder. But in Dallas, the problem is that total eats up too much room to allow the Cowboys to do much other business.
*Dak wanted a shorter-term deal a year ago. Four years was his desire, the logic being another crack at free agency shortly after the NFL would have a new TV deal - which would cause the cap, and stars' new contracts, to skyrocket.
*Dallas' logic at the time? A desire for a longer (five years) contract. But as time as passed, what if Dallas' strategy has changed? Is there some ceiling on what they think Dak is worth - and what they think he is as a player?
Assume so, for the sake of this exercise. In that scenario, maybe the Cowboys aren't comfortable making a $40 million-APY-times-forever commitment.
What if "Cowboys for Life'' isn't on the radar ... but "Cowboy for three years while we use the time to draft your heir''? is?
So ... the Cowboys get the the QB they "like.'' But they're not married to him forever (because - three off-seasons of foot-dragging suggest - it's not quite "love.'' ... a concept that's been mentioned by 105.3 The Fan's Bryan Broaddus.) And they have a three-year tie, which would likely be attractive to Prescott.
There is one more key element, a “compromise” ... except Prescott barely even really need to say “yes” to it because it’s simply an “accounting instrument.”
Tack onto the actual three-year deal a couple of voidable years.
Voidable years are “dummy” years. Dallas does this commonly (and will soon be doing it again with restructures of guys like DeMarcus Lawrence and Amari Cooper and others to help make Dak fit) and they do not in any way “count against” Dak.
What does “count”? The way Dallas could take the total value (say, three years and $120 million) and for cap purposes, spread the impact over five years (hat-tip to Joey Ickes and to ESPN's Todd Archer, with his six-year idea, for noting that five years is the maximum length that can be used to spread out a signing bonus.)
This won’t be all that painful if, by 2025, Dak is gone while Dallas is still “paying the cap.” ... or at least not as painful as it would be to face a $40 cap charge this year.
By using “dummy” years, the apparent full value would be gigantic ... but the real money would still be three years and $120 million. Oh, and because of the voidable years, this contract would be effectively "guaranteed,'' not in writing, but in practice.
Dak could demand that a "no-tag clause'' be included so he can't be stuck here in 2023. And maybe things go so well in the next two seasons that the two parties agree to an extension and he never does leave.
But overall, in terms of a deal in the coming days? France gets to claim a victory because it will look like one of the biggest NFL deals of all time. Dak gets to claim a victory because he’ll be the second-highest paid QB (behind only Patrick Mahomes), he gets to stay in Dallas and he gets to anticipate another huge contract in three years.
And the Cowboys achieve the long-desired goal to cement a Dak deal ... along with a way to eventually escape the cement.