In the first of a five-part series highlighting the Dallas Cowboys and their pending free agency decisions, today we start with the quarterback position.
The Dallas Cowboys season has been over since the final tick of the clock, December 29th, against the Washington Redskins. While the playoffs have moved on without them, the team has already started to position themselves for a brighter 2020.
After replacing almost the entire coaching staff, it’s now time to look towards the roster. Come March 16th, NFL teams are permitted to contact free agents and negotiate terms on new deals.
For the Dallas Cowboys, the most important position on the field will also be the most important free agency decision of the season.
It’s almost a foregone conclusion that if they cannot agree upon a long-term deal with Prescott, the franchise tag will be used to bring him back for 2020. Doing so, however, could create a negative environment surrounding a team that desperately needs to trend upwards next season.
I suppose there is a minute possibility that the Cowboys could choose to start all over at the quarterback position. That would qualify as one of the, if not the most absurd decision in the history of the franchise, however. Because of that, it is not even worth discussing further.
Now then, back to re-signing Prescott. Just how much money will it take to ink the 27-year old star?
To attempt an answer, we must first look at the most recent deals other quarterbacks have received. As a disclaimer, there is no discussion about which player is better or who deserves how much. Simply put, if player X gets $120 million and player Y who plays that same position gets $130 million, the next guy due a big deal is likely getting at least $130 million.
With that being said, here were the quarterback deals that were done last season:
Russell Wilson (extension) – four years, $140 million with $107 million guaranteed
Jared Goff (extension) – four years, $134 million with $110 million guaranteed
Carson Wentz (extension) – four years, $128 million with $108 million guaranteed
Nick Foles (free agency) – four years, $88 million with $50 million guaranteed
Ben Roethlisberger (extension) – two years, $68 million with $37.5 million guaranteed
As you can see, it is very likely that Prescott’s floor is that $140 million mark. To add to the intrigue, you could very easily make the argument that Prescott is the top free-agent quarterback on the market. Sure, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are out there, but they are also both in their 40’s. Prescott’s main competition for this title is former number one overall pick Jameis Winston.
A deeper dive into the numbers though tells you all you need to know. That competition is heavily one-sided in Dak’s favor.
The next question revolves around how Prescott wants to handle these negotiations. Does Dak give the Dallas Cowboys a “hometown discount” of sorts and take less money to allow the team to spend his allocation in other spots? On the flip side, does Dak this opportunity to break the bank and, for an albeit short time, try to obtain the ranking of league’s highest-paid player?
I believe the answer to that question lies somewhere in the middle. I could see Prescott doing a four-year, $150 million deal with $115 million guaranteed so he gets that short term gratification of “highest-paid player,” but does not command the $40+ million per year that allows Dallas to do some other things in free agency.
Also of note, it behooves the Cowboys to make a deal sooner rather than later. Given that a possible Super Bowl-winning, already MVP who will still just be 24 when next year gets started could get an extension this offseason, I don’t think Jerry Jones wants to see the money Patrick Mahomes will obtain prior to Dak getting his money.
One way or another, Dak Prescott will be the 2020 starter at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. There are just too many negatives that would surround this happening under the franchise tag. Hopefully, a new deal is announced prior to the February 25th date in which the tag can be placed on a given player.
Lastly, while it is mostly all about Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys will need at least one other quarterback. It is possible that Rush comes back too, but don’t be surprised if Brett Hundley is given a look.
We have already seen new head coach Mike McCarthy bring in some familiar faces to his coaching staff. Adding a guy who McCarthy had for two seasons in Green Bay is certainly not out of the question. If not Hundley, Dallas may also kick around the idea of adding former University of Texas star Colt McCoy. One other very intriguing name that would perk up the fan base is all-purpose Swiss Army knife option Taysom Hill.