DALLAS — Following their successful effort to lock up DeMarcus Lawrence long-term, the Dallas Cowboys’ front office will turn their attention to retaining the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones and Dak Prescott for the foreseeable future.
Elliott, as a top draft pick in 2016, still has two seasons left on his deal with the likelihood that his fifth-year option is picked up. First-round draft picks have an option for a fifth year as long as the team picks up that option in the offseason prior to his fourth season. Unless something drastic happens, the Cowboys almost certainly will keep Zeke around for that fifth year.
Much in the same regard, Cooper will be playing the 2019 season on his fifth-year option that was picked up prior to last season. With just this year remaining on his rookie contract, that means Cooper will be in need of an extension to keep him in Dallas and after trading a first rounder to acquire him, you should expect the Cowboys to work to get that done.
Byron Jones is also set to play on his final year of his rookie contract as Dallas' 'first round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. After years of moving back and forth between safety and cornerback, Jones flourished under the tutelage of new defensive backs coach Kris Richard, and ended up a Pro Bowler at CB. To that end, you should expect him to get paid by Dallas should they be able to work out an extension.
But even with those decisions on the horizon, the big burning question for the Cowboys to tackle next is just what to do for a new contract with franchise quarterback Dak Prescott.
The former Mississippi State Bulldog is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will likely be playing the season on a new deal, should Dallas be able to get something done. It's not going to come cheap, either.
The fact is, extensions to quarterbacks show that when a team finds a guy they think is capable of leading them deep in the playoffs, they are expected to lock them up and the position is paid on a much higher scale than any other in most cases.
Considering the thoughts vocalized by Jerry Jones over the last few years, the Cowboys feel like Prescott is one of those QBs which means they will need to pony up to keep him around. The most recent contract that could be a basis for Prescott’s next deal could be Kirk Cousins who is now in Minnesota.
In fact, two contracts will likely be the basis as to where Dak's agent will start with negotiations. Cousins signed a 3-year deal worth $28 million annually and Jimmy Garoppolo signed for $27.5 million annually.
One could argue with great conviction that Prescott is a better quarterback than both players in terms of what he has been able to do on the field. Garappolo signed his deal after playing six games in 2017 and winning all five of his starts. He has never appeared in more than six games in a single season.
Cousins signed his deal after receiving the franchise tag twice while a member of the Cowboys’ rivals in Washington. He finished his six seasons in Washington as a sub .500 quarterback with one playoff start that ended in a loss back in 2015.
Those deals would lead many to believe that Prescott will command more than $28 million annually. Only two quarterbacks currently make more than $30 million annually with those being former league MVPs Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers, and frankly, Prescott should be below that tier. So that's where you can begin to see the quandary about starting these talks.
Nevertheless, though the negotiations may be trying, and the price tag may ultimately be galling, it would behoove the Cowboys to try and get a deal done this offseason before other quarterbacks start to cash in.
Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz are all due new deals as 2020 unrestricted free agents. Goff and Wentz will likely get their fifth-year options picked up but they will get paid eventually. As many have now seen, as contracts are announced, they reset the market for quarterbacks.
The Cowboys front office staff should try and get a deal with Dak done before the price goes up once again. With Tank Lawrence getting his big payday, extending Dak Prescott becomes to next item to check off the list.
Do you think the Cowboys should extend Dak Prescott as soon as possible or should they wait and see how things shake out after another season? Share your thoughts with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.