The Dallas Cowboys are getting ready to enter a dangerous position as a franchise. For the last three seasons, they have had the luxury of having a starting quarterback on a rookie contract, a fourth-round rookie quarterback at that.
The Cowboys were not able to take advantage and win a Super Bowl the first three years but appear to be in prime position to make another run in 2019.
Before Dak Prescott took over as Cowboys quarterback in 2016, the Cowboys were not expecting to have a rookie quarterback until Romo went down in the preseason.
Now, as Dak enters his fourth and final year on his contract, it is almost time to pay him and those conversations are ongoing.
The number that has been mentioned the most when it comes to a contract has been $30 million and Dak reportedly turned that down.
It has also been reported that Dak is looking to top Russell Wilson’s contract from this off-season, which will pay Wilson $35 million a season.
Recent history shows that you put your team in a compromising position once you pay your quarterback that type of money, even if your quarterback is elite.
That puts the pressure on the Cowboys to correctly evaluate where Dak is headed going forward and not just based on his intangibles and performance the first three years of his career where he was the best value in the NFL.
None of the top 5 highest paid quarterbacks were able to lead their teams to the playoffs in 2018. Those names include Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford.
When you look at the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks since 2011, none of the quarterbacks have been ranked in the top 5 in salary at the position.
What that says is, while the quarterback is the most important position on the field, they still need a capable supporting cast in order to win and their greatest value is before they start making over 11% of your cap. That is where the Cowboys other contract situations come to the forefront.
Other notable upcoming expiring contracts for the Cowboys include:
2020: Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, La’el Collins, Maliek Collins, Jaylon Smith(restricted free agent)
2021: Ezekiel Elliott, Tyrone Crawford, Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Xavier Woods
2022: Michael Gallup, Connor Williams, Leighton Vandesch(club option)
The biggest question I have with Dak as a quarterback is “Can Dak still produce wins with less talent?” The leadership is there and the numbers show that Dak is a better than average quarterback.
The problem is when you lock yourself into 35+ million dollars at the quarterback position you need your quarterback to be elite to have any chance to win a Super Bowl because you will not be able to pay some of these other talented players above.
Jerry recently said in an interview that he would feel comfortable letting Dak play out this season without a contract if they are unable to agree to a deal.
The “wait and prove it” philosophy has burned the Cowboys a lot recently and could be a dangerous strategy to play here as the price will only go up if Dak has another productive season and Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes becoming eligible for contract extensions next off-season.
In this case, I believe the right move is the “wait and prove it” approach because Dak is on the books for around 900k for the 2019 season.
When you look at the seven games before Amari last season and the six games without Elliott in 2017, I saw Dak shrink when the circumstances and talent around him were not perfect.
That leaves me wanting to see more from him without Scott Linehan and I am willing to let him go into the 2019 season without a contract.
The Cowboys have the ability to use the franchise tag for the 2020 season, which will pay Prescott around $32 million. Then, if you franchise him again, it will cost around $38 million. At that point, I have enough information to move on or I definitely know that he is my guy and we do a long term deal after the 2021 season.
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