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Cowboys, Prescott fail to sign a deal by franchise tag deadline. Here's what that means

Quarterback Dak Prescott will play the 2020 season for the Dallas Cowboys under the franchise tag. Negotiations can resume when the season ends.
Credit: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott speaks during a news conference following a loss to the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, in Chicago.

DALLAS — The deadline has come and gone. The Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott failed to reach a long-term deal, meaning Prescott will play the 2020 NFL season on the franchise tag for $31.4 million.

The inability to overcome the contract impasse by Wednesday’s 3 p.m. CT deadline also means the Cowboys and Prescott will have to wait until after the season to come to terms, which puts Prescott’s long-term future as a Cowboys in serious question.

The 26-year-old quarterback and the team have been negotiating about this new deal for more than a year. The most recent sticking point had apparently been the term of the contract, with Prescott apparently preferring a 4-year deal, looking for a quicker path to free agency.

Since 1993, there have been just eight quarterbacks hit with the franchise tag, and Prescott becomes only the third to actually have to play a season with it after a multi-year deal couldn’t be reached. The other two, Drew Brees in 2005 and Kirk Cousins in 2016 and 2017, both eventually signed free agent deals with other teams.

The contract math moving forward will only make it tougher for Prescott’s agent Todd France and the Cowboys to find common ground.

We could be in the same situation again at this time next year. Then Prescott would have more leverage, because he would earn $37.7 million if he would play on the franchise tag for a second straight year.

That leverage would be made even greater because a third-year franchise tag skyrockets to a salary-cup crushing $54 million in 2022.

Prescott owns a 40-24 record as the Cowboys starting quarterback.

He threw for nearly 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2019, with 11 interceptions, racking up a 99.7 quarterback rating. Those are certainly franchise quarterback numbers, but the team sputtered to an 8-and-8 record, missing the playoffs and leading to the ouster of then head coach Jason Garrett.

Last season was the fourth and final year of contact after the Cowboys selected Prescott in the fourth round in 2016.

As of right now NFL players are schedule to begin training camp July 28. But the league and its players union have yet to agree on a plan to return in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

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