Dak Prescott officially signed his franchise tender last Monday. Prescott signing the tender so early came as a bit of a surprise because the sides have until July 15 to agree to a longterm extension. It has been reported that the sides aren’t any closer to an agreement at this point, but I would expect those talks to heat up closer to the July deadline.
By signing the tender, Prescott will make at least $31.4 million(Highest base salary in the NFL) during the 2020 season. It also ensures that he will be in camp on time and takes away the always unlikely scenario where the Cowboys would rescind the franchise tag and let Dak become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Now, the question is why did Prescott decide to sign it so early?
One scenario that I have seen out there that makes some sense is the Jamal Adams scenario.
Charles Robinson tweeted out that by officially having Daks $31.4 million on the books, it would make it tougher to trade for a player like Adams who is ready for a longterm extension himself, although there is a belief there that he would be willing to give some sort of a discount if he was traded to Dallas.
We have already seen Dak skipped in the pecking order last offseason when Ezekiel Elliott and Jaylon Smith received contract extensions so while I don’t think that trade is going to happen, Dak protecting himself and making sure he remains the priority this offseason makes a lot of sense.
Another scenario is that Dak is ready to start getting together with coaches and teammates in preparation for the 2020 season. This one makes a lot sense from the standpoint that the Cowboys will have some changes to the offense with new head coach Mike McCarthy. Live reps with teammates have been far and few between since they haven’t been allowed at the facilities for the majority of the offseason due to the pandemic.
So, now I want to transition over the long term effects of the tag and why the Cowboys need to make a decision to give Prescott what he wants or decide to move on.
A lot of people would argue that there is no reason a longterm extension hasn’t been reached after the season Dak had in 2019 and seeing guys like Carson Wentz and Jared Goff from his same draft class receive their extensions last offseason.
There is also an argument to be made about Tony Romo never having to wait this long to receive his extensions. Tha leads to the question of why is Dak being treated differently.
Whenever I think about this situation, I always think back to the reports that came up during the season where Jerry Jones would go into staff meetings after several games and ask, “Is this our guy?” I can’t fault the thought there because I can think of a few games where I had the same thoughts go through my mind and I don’t think Jerry is the only one within the organization that has questions about their quarterback.
I also didn’t have a problem with the Cowboys being hesitant to pay him last offseason but I can say Dak improved in some areas during the 2019 season.
However, I still have questions about his ability to “put the team on his back” and go win a game when the conditions around him aren’t ideal, which is bound to happen once you sign a quarterback to a massive extension and that becomes even more problematic with the expected increase to the salary cap no longer expected to happen due to the pandemic. The cap is now expected to go down or stay the same.
What that means for the Cowboys is that if they franchised Dak again in 2021 and have to pay him around $37 million, they would have to move some pieces around because the roster is so top heavy. The top 10 paid Cowboys combine for roughly $138 million of the $198.2 salary cap.
Then, if you manage to make that work and a long term extension still isn’t reached, the 2022 salary on the franchise tag for quarterbacks is expected to exceed $50 million, so it definitely wouldn’t make sense to tag Dak for the third year.
So, with the way the team is currently constructed with the amount of longterm contracts already on the books and the effects the pandemic will have on the salary cap, the 2020 season should be the only season Prescott plays on the tag.
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