The Dallas Cowboys’ front office will win the offseason if they can find a way not to overpay quarterback Dak Prescott, signing him to a team-friendly deal.
The Seattle Seahawks are not on the schedule so it will not be possible to beat them in the regular season. But the Cowboys are certainly competing with them this offseason to build a competitive team.
The Seahawks announced a new deal for their quarterback Russell Wilson this week. The four-year, $140 million deal is the richest average per year deal in NFL history.
Wasn’t it not too long ago that quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo held that distinction. One thing for certain, it’s good to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
The Cowboys are facing a dilemma with their quarterback Dak Prescott. The team has enjoyed the luxury of his rookie deal with Prescott’s play far exceeding the value of his contract.
Prescott is due a raise. This is not disputed. The Cowboys could sign him this year to an extension or wait until next season and use the franchise tag to keep him for another year while working on a long-term extension.
The Cowboys have publicly stated that Prescott’s contract needs must be team-friendly. The Seahawks just made that harder for Dallas to Prescott’s delight.
The contract negotiations between Prescott and the Cowboys have three interested parties. The team is intent on signing their quarterback at a cost that will allow the Front Office to build Super Bowl competitive teams.
The player is intent on maximizing his earnings while playing for a competitive team that one day might win the Super Bowl. The fans, the silent third-party watching these negotiations from the outside, only care about winning the Super Bowl.
It is with this perspective that I suggest the Cowboys wait to sign Dak Prescott. It is far better for Dallas to let Prescott earn his $2 million rookie deal salary and let his play far exceed the value of his contract and then use the franchise tag to protect their rights.
Recent history is full of quarterbacks who were paid who then failed to win another Super Bowl. Russell Wilson won his Super Bowl on his rookie deal and has not been close since signing a $21.9 million average per year (APY) contract in 2015 which represented 15.3 percent of the 2015 salary cap.
Aaron Rodgers won the Super Bowl on a contract he signed in 2008 with an APY of 12.7 million (11 percent of the salary cap). He then signed a new deal in 2013 at $22 million APY (17.9 percent of the cap) and his latest extension in 2018 at $33.5 million (18.9 percent of the cap) and the Packers are now in disarray and have not made it back to the Super Bowl.
Drew Brees signed his free agent deal with New Orleans in 2006 with a $12 million APY (11.8 percent of the cap) and the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010. Brees then signed new deals in 2012 at $20 million APY (16.6 percent of the cap), 2016 at $24.3 million (15.6 percent of the cap) and 2018 at $25 million (14.1 percent of the cap) and the Saints have not hoisted the Lombardi trophy since.
Tom Brady, after winning three Super Bowl’s early in his career signed a deal with the Patriots in 2010 at $18 million APY (15 percent of the cap) and the Patriots lost once in the Divisional round, twice in the AFC championship and once in the Super Bowl on the contract.
After signing his next contract in 2013, at $11.4 million APY (9.3 percent of the cap), Brady and the Patriots returned to the Super Bowl to win in 2015. Brady signed a new contract in 2016 at $19.2 million (12.4 percent of the cap) and the Patriots won two Super Bowls in the contract term.
The commonality between all these Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks is that it is much harder to win another Super Bowl when the franchise quarterback consumes so much of the salary cap. Brady learned this lesson and quickly adjusted his next deals to stay below 12.5 percent of the salary cap when the deal was signed and the Patriots rekindled their dynasty.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, a Nobel prize-winning economist wisely deduced that the teams that win in the NFL have players that have performance exceed the value of their contract. The Cowboys would be wise to hold their team-friendly contract position with Prescott.
You need competent quarterback play to be successful in the NFL. A smart front office will win the offseason by not overpaying the position just because other teams, who have now built barriers to win the Super Bowl, foolishly overspend on one player.