The biggest free-agent name on the Cowboys’ free agency slate.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Cowboys are likely to use the franchise tag on quarterback Dak Prescott as contract talks remain at an impasse.
No specific number has been reported to the public as most recent reports leaked Prescott’s camp was hovering in the neighborhood of $40 million.
The number to franchise Prescott is projected to be $26.9 million.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson currently stands as the highest-paid QB at $35 mil per year after signing a four-year $140 million extension last offseason.
Veteran quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers rounded out the top-three at $34 and $33.5 mil, respectively.
Prescott is coming off a career year where he threw 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns (both career highs) but failed to lead Dallas to the postseason.
Dallas finished the season 8-8 but had a chance to lock up the division crown in a Week 16 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. Prescott finished that game 25-of-44 for 265 yards and zero touchdowns.
The issue with Prescott doesn’t come with his ability to lead a winning team, but his ability to lead a team without optimal talent. Of the first six highest-paid QBs, only two have skill position players inside the top-10 highest-paid at their position.
Goff ($33.5 mil/yr) has Todd Gurley and Brandon Cooks, while Matt Ryan ($30 mil/yr) has Devontae Freeman and Julio Jones. Though neither team made the postseason this year, both quarterbacks have led their teams to the Super Bowl in recent years.
The Cowboys are projected to have $80 mil in cap space this offseason but have 30 free agents set to hit the open market — including big names like Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, and Robert Quinn.
Amari, at minimum, is looking at being paid upwards of $15-17 mil/year, while a top-10 contract for Jones will land him at upwards of $12-13 mil/year.
Robert Quinn was the only Cowboy to reach double-digit sacks and will most likely be looking to increase upon his $11 million cap number from 2019.
It’s a team’s job to optimize the talent around their quarterback. However, constantly pouring dollars into players that have yet to yield the desired results is a quick way to land in salary cap purgatory.
Here are some important dates to circle while we wait on the future of Prescott:
- February 3: Waiver system begins for 2020.
- February 11: Beginning at 12 p.m. ET, NFL clubs may begin to sign players whose 2019 CFL contracts have expired. Players under contract to a CFL club for the 2020 season or who have an option for the 2020 season are not eligible to be signed.
- February 24-March 2: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
- February 25: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
- March 10: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
- March 16-18: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2019 player contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 18. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 18.
- March 18: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2020 on all players who have option clauses in their 2019 contracts.
- March 18: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
- March 18: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2019 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
- March 18: Top 51 begins. All clubs must be under the 2020 salary cap prior to 4:00 p.m. ET. All 2019 player contracts will expire at that time. Trading period for 2020 begins at 4:00 p.m. ET after expiration of all 2019 contracts.
- March 18: The 2020 league year and free agency period begin at 4:00 p.m. ET. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4:00 p.m. and 11:59:59 p.m. ET on March 18.
- March 18: Trading period for 2020 begins at 4:00 p.m. ET after expiration of all 2019 contracts.
- March 29-April 1: Annual League Meeting, Palm Beach, Florida.
- April 6: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2019 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
- April 17: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
- April 20: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
- April 23-25: 2020 NFL Draft, Las Vegas, Nevada.
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