The Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott could not agree on a long-term contract extension by Wednesday's 4 p.m. ET deadline for players slapped with the franchise tag, so Prescott will make "only" $31.4 million guaranteed via the tag in 2020. That's the largest cap hit of any player in the NFL this season. Could it be Prescott's last in Big D? That's entirely possible.
Yes, the Cowboys could simply slap the franchise tag on Prescott again next season and he would make more than $37.7 million guaranteed. However, the coronavirus may play a role in the Cowboys' decision. If the cap remains flat or goes down because of the financial hits the league is taking this year in a pandemic, paying Prescott such a large percentage of the cap might not be doable. While the Cowboys' cap number is tied to revenue, Prescott's cap number for 2021 is tied to his 2020 salary.
This season, Prescott will be occupying about 14.3 percent of Dallas's salary cap. In the past five years, a total of 11 quarterbacks have taken up more than 14 percent of their team's salary cap in a given year and led that team to the playoffs. None have won a Super Bowl, with only Matt Ryan getting the 2016 Falcons there.
And, yes, the Cowboys could simply sign Prescott to a long-term deal next offseason, but good quarterbacks tend to only get more expensive each year. Prescott reportedly already turned down a reported $35 million per season with $110 million guaranteed and has his eyes on $40 million per. Prescott has made only around $4 million combined over the last four seasons when his market value likely would have been approximately $90 million. He feels he deserves to be the second-highest paid QB in average annual salary behind Patrick Mahomes.
If the soon-to-be 27-year-old Prescott has an even better 2020 season than he did in 2019 (career-high 4,902 yards and 30 TDs) and leads the Cowboys to a deep run in the playoffs, well, Prescott absolutely will not settle for less than $40 million per. He is +700 on the William Hill sportsbook moneyline odds to lead the NFL in passing yards and +1500 to win MVP. Dallas is a +110 favorite to win the NFC East for the third time in Prescott's five seasons and guarantee a playoff spot.
There's also the possibility that the Cowboys disappoint this year, get a Top 10-ish draft pick and decide to select a younger, cheaper QB like Ohio State's Justin Fields or North Dakota State's Trey Lance (Dallas won't be bad enough to get Trevor Lawrence) and either trade Prescott's franchise tag rights or let him walk for a third-round compensatory pick.
The most likely scenario is another franchise tag for Prescott in 2021 similar to what the former "Redskins" did with Kirk Cousins in 2016-17. Prescott would then surely walk in unrestricted free agency in 2022 like Cousins did in 2018.
Via SportsLine NFL oddsmakers: If not with Dallas, which team will Dak Prescott be on Week 1 of the 2021 season?
- Raiders +300
- Bears +400
- Colts +500
- Jaguars +700
- Saints +800
- Patriots +1000
- Washington +1100
- Steelers +1200
- Lions +1500
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