Cowboys might not have to pay Dak Prescott as much if salary cap takes a hit in 2021

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys may catch a break regarding Dak Prescott’s contract negotiations. They may not have to pay him as much in 2021 because of the salary cap.

The Dallas Cowboys’ negotiations with Dak Prescott may only get more complicated.

While Dallas did use the 2020 franchise tag on the former fourth-round quarterback, the Cowboys are going to have to commit to him long-term or not here soon. Prescott has brought stability to the position for the last four years, helping the team transition off an aging Tony Romo. By delaying the inevitable, it seemed as if the Cowboys were destined to overpay Prescott.

However, things might have broke in the Cowboys’ favor in the strangest of ways. On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter appeared on the My Sports Update NFL Podcast. He talked about how the coronavirus could negatively affect the league’s revenue for the 2021 NFL salary cap. The cap stems from revenue generated the year prior. Without fans in the stands, it could drop massively.

While FanSided‘s Matt Verderame reported at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine up in Indianapolis the 2021 NFL salary cap could reach upwards of $240 million, it might be $30 to $80 million lower than the $198.2 million it is for 2020. If we’re looking at something in the $150 million range for 2021, there is no way Prescott will garner $35 million on a new deal from Dallas.

Schefter mentioned teams with no long-term attachments to expensive quarterbacks like the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots could come out of this pandemic fine financially. However, he did say another team could have issues down the line with paying its star quarterback. That player is obviously Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs.

While the Chiefs will do everything in their power to play Mahomes as much money as possible to keep the greatest football player in the league on their team forever, the Cowboys may feel increasingly lukewarm about paying Prescott top dollar.

Should he sign the franchise tag, he’ll get the average of the top-five annual salaries at the position in 2020. If he was a top-10 quarterback in the league, we’d get it, but he’s closer to top-15 than getting into the single digits realm. Add in the Cowboys signing a cheaper and more seasoned option in Andy Dalton and this could get even more complicated.

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That’s not to say Dalton will replace Prescott in Dallas, but keep in mind new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t draft Prescott. His predecessor Jason Garrett was his coach back in 2016. The Cowboys may have no state income tax on their side, but they are in line for some more tough financial decisions if the 2021 salary cap craters because of COVID-19. Prescott may not get paid.