National Football League

Is Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott going to get his big pay day?

March 4

By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist 

A lot of deadlines have come and gone in the eternal saga of Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, and here comes another one next Tuesday.

March 9 is Dak Day – the latest Dak Day, for there have been a few cutoffs that slipped on by without development. Could there be progress on a long-term deal? Sure.

Just don’t count on it.

The reason deals don’t usually drag on anywhere near this long is that in most cases they are not an even fight. Typically, the team has an abundance of control. They are the ones with the multitude of billions, they are in charge of the purse strings. This time, the more months have passed, the edge has shifted firmly towards Prescott.

With their actions so far, it seems the Cowboys have failed to get their head around the fact that here, the player has the greater array of options. By the time they realize it, it might be too late.

It is an impasse, but of the strangest kind. The Cowboys and Prescott’s representatives have now spent the past two years unable to agree on what the 27-year-old quarterback is worth, without the relationship breaking down.

It is a tale where Dallas wants Dak and Dak wants to stay in Dallas, yet they still can’t find enough common ground to make sure this remains a team/QB marriage long into the future.

It is a standoff … while standing next to each other. According to reports, Prescott is completing much of his ongoing rehabilitation inside the Cowboys facility. It’s all very cordial. It’s just that no one is giving an inch.

"Pay him," FS1’s Brandon Marshall said to TMZ. "Let the world know he is the guy."

"The sky is the limit for him as an individual," Marshall added on First Things First.

The reason for Prescott’s rare opportunity to turn the page is that there simply aren’t enough high quality QBs to keep every team satisfied in the NFL. More and more top guys are moving closer to retirement. A commodity like Prescott, who threw for 502, 472 and 450 yards in the games before his season-ending ankle injury, has all the serious value that the shortage brings.

At this point it has become far less about what Prescott is worth amid the parameters of public perception and comparisons to others, and almost entirely about what benefit he holds to the Cowboys.

Fans will scoff at talk of the $40 million Prescott reportedly wants, especially when Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers make significantly less. But it is more nuanced than that.

The nature of being a sports fan compels us to rank who is making what, and what it all means. Yet there is no true comparison to Prescott’s scenario. The Cowboys QB backed himself into this position by refusing to agree to a lesser sum than he believed was correct. Now he is positioned to test the appetite Dallas has for either losing him altogether, or risk paying a far higher sum.

"If Dak is saying he’s worth Patrick Mahomes money, I’m going to struggle with that," FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd said on The Herd. "You’ve got to kind of know the temperature in the room." 

Prescott, according to reports, is seeking to be paid higher than any other QB except Mahomes, who inked a 10-year, $503 million extension last year. Second place in this race would still be a lucrative prize.

The Cowboys aren’t used to this. It is an uncommon situation for NFL decision makers. They offered Prescott a $30 million average back when that was a lot, then a $35 million average a year ago when that was weighty and veritable too. But the QB market continues to surge quicker than a Bitcoin boom.

Prescott knows the figures, and they play well for him. To franchise tag him this year would cost Dallas $37.1 million, which the organization could live with. Doing so again next season for an eye-popping hit of $54 million would be unworkable. But if they don’t do that, he’s a free agent.

Need further proof of how the shift in power works in the NFL when it comes to using the franchise tag on a player? Look no further than what happened to Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins during his time with Washington.

Back in 2017, Washington was unable to reach a long-term deal with their signal-caller, which led to Cousins becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to play back-to-back seasons under the franchise tag, earning just under $24 million that season.

The following year, Cousins hit the free agent market and was able to cash in on a historic three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings.

Prescott believes he is in charge of this now. He has some cause to feel that way. Barring another injury even worse than the one he suffered this past year, he’s in line to either get the deal he wants or to hit the open market and wait for teams to line up to throw sackfuls of cash at him. Their hunger may only grow.

"When you bring the type of leadership and presence that Dak Prescott brings to this team and this locker room, that’s not something you can easily replace," Super Bowl-winning wide receiver Greg Jennings added, on First Things First. "When it comes to his ceiling – there is no ceiling."

Is Prescott right to hold out for $40 million-plus? Is there any reason why he shouldn’t?

It is not emotional. It is not greedy. It is not an inflated sense of his self-worth. It is not even sports, to be honest.

It is money. It is market factors and understanding the principles of scarcity, position and leverage. It is about weighing up risk and reward and how to benefit most if you are prepared to take a chance.

Prescott hasn’t played his hand like a gambler, he’s done it like a Wall Street theorist. And he’s won. He’s either going to get a monumental contract, or he’ll get a lot now and even more later. Soon enough, the real Dak Day is coming.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

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