Should the Dallas Cowboys make Dak Prescott the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback?
“On today’s episode of As the Jerry-World Turns…”
Kidding. Seriously though, Dak Prescott’s contract negotiations are turning more and more into a soap opera by the day.
For months, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and the franchise’s front have been at odds over his contract. Dallas slapped Prescott with the exclusive franchise tag back in March, which would equate to a a one-year, $31.4 million deal. However, the two ends have remained at a crossroads in negotiating a long-term deal.
Things got a little harrier on Friday, when Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, son of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, joined Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio on the PFT PM Podcast to discuss all things Dallas. Of course, one of the topics was Dak Prescott and the never-ending contract negotiations.
“There’s all sorts of analytics out there that show if your quarterback takes up too big a percentage of your salary cap, that it decreases your chances to win. We’re just trying to figure out the right fit.
Jones also added: “I mean, at the end of the day I know everybody’s out there, ‘How have you not paid Dak?’ At the same time, we’ve tried to pay him, and he has to accept what he want to pay him. But the deal’s got to be right for Dak and it’s got to be right for us. As you know, the salary cap makes this a zero-sum game for owners. This is not something where Jerry and myself are trying to save money so the Cowboys can make more money for the Jones family.”
Prescott is going into his fifth year as the Cowboys’ starter. Last season, he passed for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns, both career-highs. However, the Cowboys missed the playoffs, finishing with an 8-8 record.
Still, Prescott has taken Dallas to the playoffs twice as a starter, and won a playoff game in 2018.
What’s the hold up with the contract? Is Prescott asking for too much money? Are the Cowboys just not convinced? Should Dallas be paying attention to the analytics?
According to the NFL Network’s Jane Slater, the issue isn’t the money – it’s the contract length. The Cowboys want five years on the deal, while Prescott’s camp wants four.
But ESPN’s Marcus Spears isn’t convinced we know all the facts.
“I’m not sure if that is the case. I think something about the structure of this contract is giving Dak and his agent pause as far as signing. I’ve never known a guy to fight over year if he’s going to get $100 million guaranteed because usually that’s all that matters to NFL players. But this right here is a situation where I think Stephen Jones finally came out and said something that gave us a glimmer into the darkness of the money not being a thing they are agreeing on either.”
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) May 11, 2020
Slater also said that the Cowboys’ current offer would be richer than that of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff’s 4-year, $134 million deal.
With that, Skip Bayless agrees with Jones’ assessment that in order to build a successful team, the Cowboys can’t pay Prescott what he’s asking.
Bayless also adds that he’s not sure Prescott has proven he’s worth the price.
“The kind of demand that they are asking for that will make even the Kansas City Chiefs officials swallow hard because they don’t even want to pay Patrick Mahomes the kind of money that Dak and his new agent are asking for right now. I told you it’s out of bounds. It’s unrealistic. It’s simply wrong, and Jerry knows it’s wrong – and Jerry Jones has a reputation for overpaying players. Jerry Jones is finally digging in on his side and saying, ‘I’m sorry that’s just too much.'”
"As much as I love Dak Prescott, I can't wreck our chances of improving our football team for the next 4 years if I give him $40M+, all of it guaranteed. It's not a sure shot, he's 1-2 in the postseason." — @RealSkipBayless pic.twitter.com/sZx7tLCqTG
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) May 11, 2020
Max Kellerman doesn’t believe that Dak is worth what he’s asking either, just based on common sense: the more money you spend on a single player, the less money you have to pay other players.
Plus, the analytics are indeed against paying quarterbacks top dollar. Currently, the 10 highest paid quarterbacks in the league for the upcoming season will be Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz, Prescott (on the franchise tag), Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill and Jacoby Brissett.
None have won a Super Bowl since Wilson in 2014, five years before he signed his massive deal.
“[Stephen Jones] is absolutely right. No quarterback who has been the top paid guy has ever won the Super Bowl in this century, which is already two decades old. It just doesn’t happen, and if someone’s going to break the mold and say, ‘To hell with it, we’re going to pay this guy,’ boy, that guy better be able to carry a team, like Patrick Mahomes … Dak Prescott ain’t Patrick Mahomes.”
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes has served as Chiefs’ starter for two seasons. In 2018-19, he took Kansas City to the AFC Championship, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. Last season, he led the Chiefs to the promised land, winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 50 years and winning Super Bowl MVP in the process.
Mahomes was also named NFL MVP, First-Team All-Pro and NFL Offensive Player of the Year, all in 2018. He will make a base salary of nearly $25 million in 2021 before he becomes a free agent. At that point, everyone in the football universe believes he will become the first NFL player to make $40 million or more per year.
Back to Dak.
Shannon Sharpe is on the opposite side of the argument. He thinks Jones’ analytics argument is ludicrous because the Cowboys, according to recent history, have never been concerned with analytics. For him, if everyone else on the team has gotten the big bucks, Dak should, too.
“Analytics also said you shouldn’t take a running back in the first round. They also said you should not pay a running back top dollar. What do they say about paying offensive lineman, and making three of five of them the highest paid at their positions? Now all of sudden you want to look at analytics when it comes to Dak Prescott.”
"If you don't have a good QB, analytics will show it decreases your chances of winning a SB even more than a QB eating up cap space. Analytics said 'don't draft a RB in the 1st round & pay him top dollar.' Now you want to look at analytics when it comes to Dak." — @ShannonSharpe pic.twitter.com/LJ78en15S3
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) May 11, 2020
In September, the Cowboys signed Zeke Elliott to a 6-year, $90 million extension, with $50 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid running back in the NFL.
ESPN’s Domonique Foxworth believes that it’s not Prescott’s job to worry about the analytics – it’s his job to play at a high level. And he’s done that during his time in Dallas.
“I think those are frankly faulty analytics. It doesn’t make it more difficult necessarily to win the Super Bowl as much it just shifts the responsibility. Right now the responsibility is on the underpaid quarterback to overplay his contract. Once you start paying a quarterback his market value, then the responsibility goes to the general manager to build a competent team around him.”
Dak has done his part. Now it’s time for management to do their part. pic.twitter.com/8Ds8ZtViVg
— Domonique Foxworth (@Foxworth24) May 11, 2020
Whatever the reason, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are still at odds, and we’re still left to speculate.
Maybe Dak will play under the tag. Who knows, maybe he’ll hold out.
Until this thing gets done, however, we’re all forced to sit and wait – similar to another guy in Dallas.