Duck Prescott’s contract, explained: Cowboys franchise doubles up on a long-term deal versus tag

The clock is ticking again for the Cowboys to sign quarterback Dak Prescott. A two-week window to apply to the franchise tag on a pending NFL free agent opens in 2021, with March 9 as the deadline for Dallas to do so if it so chooses.

Prescott played under the special tag last season and earned a $ 31.4 million guarantee. This year, should the Cowboys re-tag him, the number would increase 20 percent to $ 37.7 million.

The Cowboys and Prescott would prefer to agree on a long-term deal, however, both under contract beyond another season and locking large overall guaranteed money in relation to the top of the QB market.

Here’s how Dallas is positioned to go down the avenue with Prescott’s contract:

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What is the status of the Cowboys’ salary-cap for signing Dak Prescott?

The NFL-wide salary cap will have a $ 180 million floor for teams whose ceiling is not very high. For now, the Cowboys are in fairly good shape, finishing 12th in this league and $ 19 million below the cap.

That said, they cannot afford the cap tied to tag presscot for $ 37.7 million without restructuring contracts and releasing players from their deals.

His most logical source of savings would be to designate linebacker Jaylon Smith as a cut on June 1 after a setback season. It would come with $ 7.2 million in additional relief. The Cowboys can do this with two players, which should make them think of dealing with Tyrone Smith. They could have made another investment of $ 10.5 million there.

That would give Dallas $ 36.7 million under the cap in two moves, meaning they could work the tag on Prescott by cutting out another player. If they want to keep Tyron Smith and are still freeing up enough cap space, they will go to Anthony Brown, puncher Chris Johns, defensive end Randy Gregory, Tait and Blake Jarvin and some lower roster players to go to Jenelan Smith. Can be cut.

The Cowboys will be forced into some tough decisions to tag Prescott with other veterans and have zero cap space to do anything in free agency with players near or outside.

What would a second franchise tag mean for Dak Prescott

From Prescott’s point of view, the second consecutive tag is not too bad. That means he has earned $ 69.1 million in guaranteed money in two years, and the Cowboys still showed confidence in him as an elite, durable QB who despite an ankle injury spent his 2020 season in five matches. Are limited to.

It would again be the Curc cousin scenario from Washington at work. The Cousins ​​were consistently tagged as non-exclusive franchise players, guaranteed $ 20 million in 2016 and 20 percent to $ 24 million in 2017. A third tag from Washington raised his value 44 percent to $ 34.6 million in 2018. , Making sure that he collides with free agency.

The cousins ​​signed for three years by the Vikings for $ 84 million, all guaranteed to expire. Extending from ’16 to ’20, Cousins ​​received the equivalent of a five-year deal worth $ 128 million, all guaranteed.

The cousins ​​”bet on themselves” and hit the jackpot. Prescott may have been wary of trying to come out of his ankle surgery, but he played every game for four and a quarter seasons since entering the league as a fourth-round pick, before suffering an injury against the Giants. did. Draft pick in 2016.

If Prescott is re-tagged in 2021, its tag value will reach $ 54.4 million in 2022, well above the top of the QB market. He will force either the Cowboys or any other team to give him a high-end long-term deal, assuming he puts on a durable and productive comeback season.

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What should Dak Prescott’s contract with the Cowboys look like?

The report states that Prescott wants a smaller deal, so think more of Pahat Watson’s four-year limit ($ 156 million) than Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year limit (at $ 450 million). Both of those 2017 first-round QBs signed their mega deals in the summer just before the 2020 season.

Mahomes finished at an average of $ 45 million per season, with a guarantee of over $ 141.5 million, with $ 63 million guaranteed upon signing. Watson finished an average of $ 39 million in a season, signed with a total guarantee of $ 110.7 million, with a guarantee of $ 73 million.

Prescott already guarantees $ 31.4 million a year, so, in essence, the four-year deal will serve as an extension. Because being significantly lower as the best versus average annual salary on the market, don’t be surprised if Prescott is given an average of $ 40 million per season or a total of $ 160 million over four years.

This would translate to $ 191.4 million over five years, when by 2020, the true average would make $ 38.3 million, which seems correct as it would get Prescott on the tag in 2021.

Watson’s contract gives the Cowboys a good way of structuring the Prescots. A $ 75 million guarantee upon signing and a total of $ 115 million guarantee a lot in relation to the overall value of $ 160 million.

With the expansion of Watson, the Texans reduced their initial cap to $ 9.8 million in 2020 and $ 15.9 million in 2021 should they remain with the team. The contract does not jump to $ 40 million-plus against the cap until 2022 and 2023. Cowboys can create the same short-term flexibility with their hats and stay out of any kind of bond.

Bottom line, it would not be the worst thing for the Cowboys to re-tag Prescott, but once done in 2020 as the easiest solution, they would be much better off ending their long-term contract before 9. March. Otherwise, they may come dangerously close to letting presscots go into the open market in NFC free agency.

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