The Dak Prescott – Cowboys standoff will only end if the team blinks — or takes the extreme measure of rescinding their quarterback’s franchise tag.
The Dallas Cowboys have drawn a line with their quarterback. After giving Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper big contracts in the last two offseasons, the Cowboys don’t appear willing to budge on Dak Prescott’s offer and the stalemate that’s ensued may force Dallas to go so far as to rescind the franchise tag on him.
The top of the quarterback market is Russell Wilson, at $35 million per year, followed by Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million), Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff ($32.5 million) and Carson Wentz ($32 million). According to reports, back-to back offers to Dak Prescott over the last several months were for $33 million per year, with potential differences in guaranteed money and the structure of those guarantees. A new offer to Prescott back in March was reported to “nudge” toward $34 million a year.
The Cowboys bought time with Prescott the only way they could: by placing the exclusive franchise tag on him. That tag would pay him $31.5 million this year, thanks to Roethlisberger restructuring his contract to move money around, which is below the sure-fire starting point on a multi-year deal. Prescott, for his part, has not signed the tag and is therefore not under contract. So he’s within his rights to skip the Cowboys’ virtual offseason program as he intends to do.
The two sides now have until July 15 to get a multi-year deal done.
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The Cowboys seem to think there’s inherent off the field value in being their quarterback and so Prescott should willingly take less money. Even if that’s true in some ways, it has only applied to quarterbacks who stayed for awhile and were actually good. It also doesn’t mean Prescott should take a discount after betting on himself and delivering his best season in 2019.
The Cowboys also seem to think Prescott will eventually relent and take less, which he has shown no sign of doing.
It’s rare for a team to rescind a franchise tag. Back in 2016, the Carolina Panthers put the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman. When talks on a long-term deal went absolutely nowhere they rescinded the tag on April 20, the week before that year’s draft. He immediately became an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Washington Redskins. Doing so with a quarterback would be unprecedented and Prescott would hit the open market immediately.
The Cowboys would surely like to have Prescott in the (virtual) building to work with new head coach Mike McCarthy this spring and this stare down will likely only end if the team blinks.
If Prescott continues to exercise his leverage, and he should, he may push the Cowboys to consider every possible option before too long. Those options include rescinding the franchise tag, as unlikely as it seems.