Dak Prescott signs exclusive franchise tag tender — is a long-term deal still in the works?

The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott still don’t have a long-term contract hammered out, but they at least have a deal.

On Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported that the Cowboys QB planned to sign the exclusive franchise tag tender for the 2020 NFL season, and on Monday, Prescott did exactly that.

Prescott then celebrated the best way a Cowboy can.

This doesn’t mean a long-term deal is off the table — both sides have until July 15 to work out a compromise. Instead, Prescott’s decision simply ensures he will not hold out from training camp.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport elaborated on Monday morning, explaining that part of the reason Prescott will sign the franchise tender is to guarantee himself a deal, considering players are still unclear on exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect 2020 NFL season.

“So many players are now wondering about their future, about their security. Everything that we have heard is that the NFL is going to have a season in its entirety, but no one can say for 100 percent certainty that it is going to happen, which is why you’ve seen a lot of franchise tag players lock in their money by signing, whereas in previous years, they have not done so. Count Dak Prescott in that category.”

Negotiations have been ongoing since Prescott became eligible for his second contract in early 2019 and reached a boiling point this offseason. There were reports in May that Prescott had turned down a five-year, $175 million deal from the Cowboys, but those were quickly debunked. Instead, the two sides seem to disagree on the number of years on a potential long-term contract.

Prescott reportedly wants a four-year deal, allowing him to re-enter the market shortly after the NFL re-negotiates its current broadcast agreements that run through 2021 for Monday Night Football and 2022 for the other packages. Dallas, meanwhile, prefers the security of a fifth year on Prescott’s potential long-term contract.

While details of that $175 million offer were inaccurate, the Cowboys have reportedly offered Prescott a contract that would make him among the highest-paid players at his position. Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson will be the highest-paid QB in 2020 at $35 million, with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger set to make $34 million.

Prescott made a little over $2 million in 2019, the final season of his rookie contract, and has earned less than $5 million total for his career — so he’s in line for a hefty raise this season, regardless of what happens next. But could the two sides still work out a long-term deal over the next 24 days?

The NFL Network’s Jane Slater states that’s still the team’s goal:

And CBS Sports’ Patrik Walker reports talks between the two sides are expected to “reignite” in the next week or so:

“The Cowboys are going to make a very, very passionate push to get this done before July 15th so they can have their quarterback locked in for the future.”

For our Skip Bayless, though, it makes more sense for his Cowboys to let Prescott play out this season and next on franchise tenders, which would pay him a total of $69.1 million over the two seasons, or an average annual value of $34.55 million.

Prescott’s value is perpetually a hot topic, and last season represented the best individual campaign of his four-year career. After passing for 3,885 yards and 22 TDs in 2018, Prescott threw for 4,902 yards in 2019 – second most in the NFL – and 30 TDs, good for fourth best in the league.

He was one of only three quarterbacks in the NFL to pass for over 300 yards per game (306.4) and his QBR of 70.2 was fourth best in the league. He also set a Cowboys record for most passing yards in a 2-game span in franchise history.

Although Prescott played well, the Cowboys regressed.

After finishing above .500 in each of Dak’s first three seasons, winning two NFC East Division titles and making two playoff appearances in the process, the Cowboys finished 8-8 in 2019 and missed the postseason, with Prescott struggling against the best teams in the league.

And because of the way the NFL’s salary cap works, Prescott’s franchise tag deal would be the biggest salary cap hit for any team in the league — a fact that doesn’t necessarily bode well for the Cowboys.

On Monday, the same day that Prescott plans to sign the franchise tender, Colin Cowherd discussed Dak’s contract situation in Dallas, comparing him to the current quarterback who essentially made playing under the franchise tag famous – Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins.

“He is the perfect ‘franchise tag quarterback,’ where it feels like he’s 12th or 15th best quarterback in the league … I’ve always felt the same about Dak – the things I like about him really aren’t the football things. His arm is average. He’s an athlete but not great … I thought to myself, ‘Let me get a [comparison] for Dak.’ … And there’s a really good comp: Kirk Cousins … Kirk Cousins was Dak … With both I feel the same way … There are old guys that are still better and there’s a bunch of young guys that look like they have higher ceilings. Do I wanna pay my guy top of the market, or near it, and he kinda feels like B? Not A … I like Dak more than Kirk, but not a ton more.”

Cousins played the 2016 season under the non-exclusive franchise tag in Washington, and then played the 2017 season under the exclusive franchise tag with the Redskins, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to play consecutive seasons under the tag.

Heading into the 2018 season, Cousins signed a 3-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Minnesota Vikings, worth $84 million.

On the bright side for Cowboys supporters: Dallas has the sixth best odds to win the championship this season, per FOX Bet, and Dak’s squad is a -118 favorite to win the NFC East, followed by the Eagles (+140), Giants (+900) and Redskins (+1400).

But before the Cowboys can try to live up to those expectations, it sounds like both the team and Prescott will try to figure out how to make sure their relationship lasts quite a bit longer.

 

Stay tuned for more updates.