The Dallas Cowboys didn’t pay Dak Prescott this offseason, instead having him on the franchise tag. After his compound ankle fracture, will they negotiate?
When Dak Prescott’s right ankle crumbled under the weight of a clean tackle by New York Giants defensive back Logan Ryan on Sunday, it appeared his future as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback might have crumbled along with it.
Prescott, who bet on himself this season, was in the midst of a historic start to his 2020 campaign with 1,690 passing yards, nine touchdowns and one interception in four-plus games. This before fighting back tears as he was carted from the AT&T Stadium field into the darkness of the tunnel of uncertainty surrounding his next round of negotiations, let alone what it will take to return to football.
Yet, judging from the reactions of Prescott’s teammates, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and sources who spoke with FanSided, he might not in fact have much to fret over.
“I don’t think this is going to impact him, or his negotiations with the Cowboys at all,” a prominent NFL agent who has negotiated a mega-contract with Jerry Jones in the past, tells FanSided.
“Don’t worry about Dak Prescott,” a second agent told FanSided. “They can do amazing things that shorten the recovery time of injuries like this these days. If surgery checks out, he won’t see a huge loss.
“Remember, he’s a quarterback, a very good one at that, so that’s all taken into account. If he was a running back, a wide receiver, even a linebacker or cornerback maybe it would be different.”
An injury as significant as Prescott’s, a compound fracture of his right ankle that required immediate surgery to repair Sunday night, could make the Cowboys hesitant to make him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league sight unseen before next season.
Former Tennessee Titans general manager and NFL Executive of The Year winner, Jeff Diamond, believes the only thing Prescott should concern himself with is getting back on the field.
“Stephen Jones is saying as long as he fully recovers, which it sounds like he should, nothing changes,” Diamond told FanSided. “Dak was so productive early this season and has a successful track record, so he’ll possibly get tagged again if the Cowboys can afford the $35-plus million under the cap, and they’ll again try to work towards a deal that pays him in the Deshaun Watson range.”
At least one current NFL general manager agrees that the Cowboys will do right by Prescott.
“It’s all contingent on where he is physically after this,” the GM tells FanSided. “But, I don’t think this will impact the contract talks at all.”
The general manager believes Prescott is still in line for a contract that pays him somewhere in the area of $35 million annually, which would put him somewhere between Russell Wilson’s $35 million APY as the third highest-paid quarterback in the NFL and Watson’s $39 million per-year deal that trails only Patrick Mahomes in terms of quarterback contracts.
Word around the league is Prescott’s return to AT&T Stadium in 2021 will be much more enjoyable, lucrative, even triumphant than his heartbreaking departure Sunday.
What to do Las Vegas Raiders do with Derek Carr?
Speaking of quarterbacks, Derek Carr offered up a signature performance in Sunday’s stunning 40-32 Las Vegas Raiders win over Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead.
Carr put on a masterclass against the Chiefs’ swarming front-seven and cut Kansas City’s talented secondary down to size. He completed 22-of-31 attempts for a season-high 347 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, while raising all kinds of questions about where the Raiders go from here at the sport’s most important position.
With Henry Ruggs’ game-breaking speed on the outside, an explosive and versatile running back like Josh Jacobs, and a matchup nightmare in athletic tight end Darren Waller, the Raiders’ offense might be the most exciting show on the Vegas strip.
But, is Carr, who has two years remaining on his deal and is a career 64.5 percent passer who hasn’t thrown more than 30 touchdowns since 2015, the quarterback to maximize said talent?
“I thought he was more of a quarterback you win with, rather than a quarterback you win because of,” a current AFC scout tells FanSided. “You can win with him, but he isn’t going to win games when the team around him isn’t playing well … Think Patrick Mahomes vs. Jimmy G in the Super Bowl. Mahomes made the big throws, Jimmy G missed about three that would have gotten them over the top.”
However, coaches around the league see Carr in a completely different light after his performances the first five weeks of this season.
“He certainly appears to be their guy long-term,” an AFC offensive coach tells FanSided.
One NFC head coach believes the best is yet to come for Carr and the Raiders.
“He’s really growing in that system,” the head coach tells FanSided. “He can make every throw. He’s athletic, and he’s stopped throwing interceptions. They can absolutely win with him.”
Andy Reid and Mahomes aren’t going anywhere. Both appear destined for the Hall of Fame. Yet if Carr continues to play at this high a level, the Raiders might pose the closest thing to a threat to the Chiefs’ achieving perennial AFC West supremacy.
Fixing the Falcons
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank finally had enough with the blown second-half leads (don’t crack a 28-3 joke, don’t crack a 28-3 joke, don’t crack a 28-3 … ), and pulled the plug on general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn on Sunday.
Unfortunately, their replacements will have their work cut out for them.
Since collapsing against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, Atlanta is 35-34, but off to a disastrous 0-5 start to this season.
It’s astounding how much the Falcons have under-performed in recent years with arguably the game’s most dangerous wide receiver, Julio Jones, a promising young talent across the field from him in Calvin Ridley, quarterback Matt Ryan, and plenty of defensive talent.
Still, Dimitroff’s replacement is going to have tough choices ahead. Even if the Falcons wind up with a top-five pick in next April’s NFL Draft, it isn’t as easy as picking a new quarterback.
“Ryan is there for two more years and carries way too much dead money,” Diamond said of Ryan’s contract that includes $35.13 million in cap penalties over the next two seasons. “They can’t feasibly get out of his deal by cutting him or trading him until 2023. So, it all starts with getting him back to playing at a higher level.”
Jones has been hobbled by injuries, including a hamstring strain, but Diamond still says if he were running the Falcons next season that Ryan and Jones would remain the franchise’s cornerstones.
“It starts with keeping Ryan and Jones healthy,” Diamond explained. “Then, they have to rebuild around them. Especially along the offensive line, at running back, and on defense.”
As it stands, the Falcons are $25 million over the cap in 2021, so hitting the needs on Diamond’s checklist might take heavy lifting …
Hot seats warming up under several GMs
Following the Houston Texans’ long overdue decision to part ways with general manager and head coach Bill O’Brien, and the Falcons pulling the plug on Dimitroff, the seats under several general managers are beginning to heat up.
I’m told by one Houston Texans player that news of O’Brien’s firing received mixed reactions inside the locker room.
“A lot of guys, particularly who have been here for a while felt relief,” the player told FanSided. “Other guys were pretty pissed off.”
O’Brien and Dimitroff aren’t likely to be the last general managers fired this season. Here’s a look at which GMs could be the next to be shown the exit:
– New York Giants’ Dave Gettleman: One year after Gettleman foolishly traded a third-round pick to the Jets for Leonard Williams on an expiring deal, it might be time for co-owner John Mara to finally send Gettleman packing to Cape Cod.
The Giants are an abject disaster at 0-5, second-year quarterback Daniel Jones has regressed, the offensive line is in shambles, and the secondary outside of cornerbacks James Bradberry and Logan Ryan is a revolving door of mediocrity … or worse.
The Giants have some tradable commodities, but Gettleman should not be trusted to oversee another trade deadline.
– Detroit Lions’ Bob Quinn: Quinn has followed the misguided strategy of trying to import the Patriot Way by bringing in ex-Pats like Trey Flowers, Duron Harmon, Danny Shelton, and Danny Amendola. He has learned the hard way it doesn’t work.
Head coach Matt Patricia has rightfully shouldered the main share of the blame for the Lions going 10-23-1 during his tenure, but if Detroit fires Patricia soon, Quinn should be carrying a cardboard box out alongside him.
– New York Jets’ Joe Douglas: Douglas is in the unenviable position of having not hired the Jets’ head coach Adam Gase, or drafting a mediocre quarterback in Sam Darnold, and yet potentially being on the hook because of them.
There’s a real possibility the Jets go 0-16, even after one Draft overseen by Douglas and two disastrous offseasons. If the Jets go winless this season, it’s difficult to imagine Douglas being trusted to continue this messy rebuild.
What I’ll be watching Sunday
Browns-Steelers has sneaky playoff implications.
Ben Roethlisberger had one of the finest regular-season performances of his career last Sunday against the Eagles. The 38-year-old went 27-of-34 for 239 yards and three interceptions, all while rookie Chase Claypool had three touchdown catches and a rushing score.
Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield has completed 60 percent of his passes over the past two weeks for 414 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions over the last two contests, allowing Cleveland’s rushing attack to do the main work.
This could be an old-fashioned, physical slugfest between bitter rivals with the winner well positioned to challenge the Ravens for the division down the stretch.
“Young kid was out there taking a lot of hits today. Our front-seven got after him pretty well. He made a lot of great plays down the stretch … He may be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.”
– New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, via NOLA.com, was impressed by Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert’s 264-yard and four touchdown performance Monday night, echoing the praise an offensive coach offered FanSided of the hotshot rookie taking the NFL by storm.
The NFL’s voting initiative might be the most impactful thing the league has ever done.
Beyond the injection of positive publicity surrounding the campaign to register voters in hopes of raising turnout from when just 55 percent of eligible Americans cast their ballots in 2016, teams offering up their home stadiums as polling places will make actually voting — the most fundamental right of being an American — accessible for millions of people has the chance to make a tangible effect on the outcome of November’s election.
In an election cycle where Harris County, Texas is limiting to just one ballot drop box and fake drop boxes are turning up across the country, good for the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks opening the gates of their stadium for citizens to cast their ballots.
What are the other 21 stadiums and teams waiting for?
Matt Lombardo is the site expert for GMenHQ, and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday for FanSided. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL.