Dallas Cowboys
What might Dak Prescott's next contract look like — and will it come with Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys

What might Dak Prescott's next contract look like — and will it come with Cowboys?

Updated Apr. 11, 2024 11:36 a.m. ET

We know by now the dilemma facing Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.

The 2024 league year is about a month old, and we've long let go of the idea that a contract extension is imminent. With the need to create cap space no longer urgent, it's a good guess there won't be movement on this front until the summer — if that movement comes at all.

Instead, there's nothing but time until training camp to weigh this entire situation.

We can consider the future later. In the coming weeks, it's worth looking at how the Cowboys might replace Prescott if he leaves, as well as which other NFL teams might sign him next spring.


For now, let's examine the idea of a Prescott extension, whenever it might get done.

It feels like a lifetime ago that Prescott made waves with a $40 million salary, signing a four-year, $160 million contract back in 2021. Suffice to say, the QB market has since heated up.

Roughly half the long-term starters in the league have signed major extensions in the time since, with 14 quarterbacks of varying degrees of experience cashing in.

The pertinent names are the foursome of Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson — all of whom signed a series of record-breaking extensions in 2023.

Hurts became the league's first $50 million per year quarterback last spring by signing a 5-year, $255 million extension. Jackson quickly slotted in on top of that 10 days later, and Herbert followed in mid-July. Burrow made the biggest splash of all on the first night of the 2023 season, when his 5-year, $275 million deal put him atop the pyramid at $55 million per year.

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If the top of the market is increasing at those intervals, it's understandable why Prescott is pegged to be the NFL's first $60 million quarterback. He's coming off an All-Pro season, he'll only be 31 when this 2024 season ends, has a no-trade clause and the Cowboys can't use the franchise tag to tamp down his market. Barring something drastic like a major injury, it's easy to imagine Prescott setting the market again in 2025. At the very least, it's a certainty the deal will be in line with the ones signed last year.

The specifics are hard to guess at this early, thanks to variables like the length of the deal and the guarantees involved. 

Spotrac projected Prescott's next deal at three years, $180 million back in February, but that was back when there was still optimism that the Cowboys might reach an extension before the start of the 2024 league year.

At this point, it feels like a good guess the actual deal will be longer. Prescott could secure a $300 million contract with more than $150 million in guarantees if he's willing to sign a five-year deal. But also remember that he fought for a four-year extension back in 2021, and that's a shorter term than the Cowboys have often preferred for their major contracts.

Would a four-year, $240 million contract with roughly half of it guaranteed get the job done?

Maybe the better question is whether that works for the Cowboys.

There have been suggestions this spring that a 2025 extension might work better for the Cowboys' finances, as it would allow them to delay a spike in his cap another year. 

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Even if that's true, the price still probably gives them pause. To be clear, they'll have money in the future. Even if the salary cap jumps much more modestly in 2025 than it did in 2024, NFL teams can still probably count on it landing somewhere around $270-275 million. Working in those parameters, the Cowboys are looking at roughly $100 million in salary cap space next year.

The issue is that the money disappears quickly. One way or another, CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons will soon sit at the top of their respective markets, commanding big cap hits of their own. Franchise cornerstones Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence have void-year charges on their expiring contracts that can hit the cap for as much as $34 million. And that doesn't include Prescott himself, whose void-year charges can hit the Cowboys for $40 million if he isn't extended.

It's amazing to think they could carry all that dead money under the salary cap just fine – though the challenge will intensify once Lamb and Parsons sign their extensions.

Maybe all those moving pieces help explain why the Cowboys haven't moved faster to finalize an extension. Though the harsh reality is that waiting will likely push the price up.

Prescott has plenty of incentive to wait. If he's not bowled over by a Cowboys offer, or if it never comes, there are currently 17 other NFL teams projected to have more than $50 million in cap space in 2025. With the franchise tag not an option, he could be 11 months away from finding out exactly how much the rest of the league values him.

That's something the Cowboys need to keep in mind if they're going to re-sign him before that happens. And if a deal doesn't materialize, that will be a big part of the reason why.

David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports and hosts the NFL on FOX podcast. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team's official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in producing "Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion" about the quarterback's time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter at @davidhelman_.


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