How fast have the years flown since the fourth-round quarterback out of Mississippi State made his first appearance in a Dallas Cowboys uniform? Though Dak Prescott’s predecessor had a unique journey of his own into the spotlight of Dallas stardom, the expectations of a late-round prospect to save Dallas from another Tony Romo injury was a mere fantasy st the time. Especially given what had transpired the year prior to Prescott’s arrival. Yet, since then, Prescott has exceeded those expectations, surmounted many of the quarterbacks drafted before him and, more importantly, outplayed his rookie contract.
Though Prescott has yet to endure a losing season, many still doubt just how much can he shoulder when it comes to offensive production. And rightfully so. The past season and a half have displayed an unpredictable, and at times, unbearable display of offense. Even with the offensive struggles that have been in part to his performance as a quarterback, he wins. And with a year remaining on his rookie contract, it has placed many fans and analyst in a befuddling state when it comes to predicting how much Prescott has earned and what he deserves.
According to Prescott, he expects Dallas to pay what is owed. A vague statement that provides no additional clarity on what exactly his value is. As good businessmen do, they will turn to the market to decide what exactly that numerical value is. But, with how this team is presently constructed, the market may provide evidence on why Dallas holds leverage in deciding what exactly Prescott “is owed.”
What Does the Market Say? (Avg./Year)
|1.||Aaron Rodgers||$33.5 million|
|2.||Matt Ryan||$30 million|
|3.||Kirk Cousins||$28 million|
|4.||Jimmy Garoppolo||$27.5 million|
|5.||Matt Stafford||$27 million|
|6.||Derek Carr||$25 million|
|7.||Drew Brees||$25 million|
|8.||Andrew Luck||$24.6 million|
|9.||Alex Smith||$23.5 million|
|10.||Russell Wilson||$21.9 million|
The surface-level argument is how the top-six quarterbacks didn’t make the playoffs this past season. It’s a narrative that has been used to counter the willingness of team’s to pay quarterbacks these large sums of money. It boils down to the belief that when you pay a large percentage of your cap to one position then other positions on the team will indeed “suffer.” And in a world where a “Dak-friendly offense” exist, the Cowboys have devoted premium resources in ensuring Prescott can perform at his optimal state. I.E. the offensive line.
Top-10 Quarterbacks offensive line pay-rate (Avg./Year)
|Green Bay Packers||$36.9M|
|San Francisco 49ers||$30.7M|
|New Orleans Saints||$34M|
(Numbers provided by spotrac.com)
When adding up the top-five highest paid linemen on each team the Oakland Raiders are the only team who comes close to the Cowboys $44.6 million they spend each year on their projected starters. Green Bay is in a distant third, trailing nearly $9 million behind Dallas.
How Dallas differs from the likes of Oakland, Green Bay, Atlanta and New Orleans is the runner they put behind those stacked offensive lines. Of those teams listed, the only two teams to finish with runners inside the top-10 is Seattle and Washington. Seattle running back Chris Carson finished fifth among NFL rushing leaders, even though his contract falls behind the $2.6 million Rashad Penny is getting paid. While Adrian Peterson, for Washington, was a one-year bridge until Darrius Guice returns from his season-ending injury.
Enter Ezekiel Elliott, who made a little over $6 million in 2018 and is unanimously seen as one of the premium running backs in the league. Elliott has been on record stating he wants a new deal as soon as possible. And it can be assumed his asking price will be in the realm of Todd Gurley’s four-year $57 million deal he signed a year ago.
It’s a unique problem only a few teams have but will be in the discussion when negotiating with Prescott. Not to mention the first-round investment they’ve placed in Amari Cooper, whose deal will also expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season. With players like T.Y. Hilton, Devante Adams and Doug Baldwin all exceeding $11 million/year, you can bet Cooper’s numbers will start somewhere in the $12-13 million/year range.
With Jerry Jones assuring Prescott will get extended there’s not arguing against Prescott continuing to be the man behind center. But what can be debated is how much help he needs to be successful. Just a matter of how much money is he willing to sacrifice to ensure he has the best pieces next to him.
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