DALLAS — July has arrived and the Dallas Cowboys are up against the clock now. Whether this is how they planned to go about the business of signing Dak Prescott to a long-term deal or not, the reality is they now have two weeks to get it done or face more acrimonious negotiations down the road.
We’ve heard Jerry and Stephen Jones say over and over again that deadlines make deals. Well, the end date on agreeing to have Prescott stay with the Cowboys past the 2020 season has arrived.
The team and its quarterback are on the clock.
Prescott extension watch has officially begun.
In truth, the clock has already been ticking. The notion of signing Prescott to a new contract dates all the way back to the start of last year’s offseason. Nevertheless, the team and Prescott’s people were never able to agree on a deal. The Cowboys never seemed willing to shell out the huge money Prescott’s representatives coveted, and the talks broke off once the 2019 season started.
The absence of a long-term deal before the 2019 season felt like the Cowboys were waiting to see how the young QB would respond to playing in a contract year — and then Prescott went out and put together his finest statistical season.
4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns later has led us to this offseason, where the Cowboys were forced to slap the franchise tag on Prescott after failing, yet again, to agree on a long-term deal. The tag came with a July 15 deadline. Prescott has already signed the franchise tender but he must agree to a new deal by that date or there can be no negotiation until after 2020.
Prescott proved himself when Dallas asked him to last season, so both sides are aware that he’s earned top dollar. The biggest issue now, as reported, remains the number of years. Dallas wants five years. Prescott wants four.
No one knows what the plan is for the Cowboys. It’s all conjecture now - and possibly all we’re going to get in the next two weeks – but perhaps this is what the organization wants. Maybe the Cowboys see using the franchise deal, spending the $31.4 million this season and then signing Prescott to a four-year deal in 2021 as a way of getting their fifth year included.
For Prescott, that would include a hefty amount of guaranteed money for not only this season, but in any four-year deal. The team would have gotten its five years, but will likely pay a handsome fee to do so. This type of plan would benefit Prescott’s pocketbook, but it also keeps the star QB in Dallas for the future.
Despite the risk, it’s also a better plan than to keep placing the franchise tag on Prescott year after year to the point of making him too expensive to keep until all options have been exhausted and he ends up in another uniform. The Kirk Cousins path is not something the Cowboys should entertain, but it is a possibility.
A big piece to the uncertainty about what the franchise will do is tied into the effects of the coronavirus. The salary cap was supposed to skyrocket in 2021 and beyond, but now might not see much of an increase if the NFL plays in empty stadiums. A stoppage or interruptions would cost the league billions of dollars in lost revenue and the cap might not expand as expected.
Not having the projected cap space for what will surely be one of the most expensive deals in the league would be a major complication in getting a deal done for Dallas. If it’s been this hard to get a lucrative long-term contract done in a perfect setting, imagine how difficult it is to agree to a deal in these ambiguous times.
Regardless, this is the reality of the situation between the Cowboys and Prescott. A deal that really should’ve been done last offseason is now dragging into another year. For everyone’s sanity, there doesn’t need to be a third offseason of doing this dance.
Let the Prescott watch begin.
Do you think Dak Prescott will sign long-term with the Cowboys before the deadline? Share your predictions with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.