Dak Prescott contract details: Why Cowboys QB is playing under franchise tag without a long-term deal

The Cowboys have stated on multiple occasions they plan to lock Dak Prescott into place as their franchsie quarterback with a multi-year contract extension. Dallas vice president Stephen Jones said so as recently as last week.

Yet those who subscribe to the theory that actions speak louder than words would be fair to question whether Prescott will get the long-term contract he has been all but promised.

The 27-year-old quarterback is content playing out the 2020 NFL season on the franchise tag, which makes him the highest-paid player in the NFL this year on base salary. Prescott, who has started all 64 games of his four-year career after Dallas selected him in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, essentially bet on himself when he reportedly refused the Cowboys’ latest contract offer in the spring and signed the franchise tender in June.

Below is all you need to know about the contract the two-time Pro Bowl QB is playing on in 2020, and why he is not yet locked in with a long-term deal in Dallas.

Dak Prescott contract details

Contract negotiations between Prescott and the Cowboys reportedly began in the spring of 2019, after he had finished his third NFL season and earned his second Pro Bowl nod. Two complete offseasons of contract chatter later, the Cowboys quarterback still does not have a long-term deal.

According to USA Today, the contract negotiations between Prescott and the Cowboys were more extensive last year than they were this year, and the two sides had “had no meaningful conversation about a deal” before the July 15 deadline to reach an agreement.

That deadline was born back in March, when Dallas placed its franchise tag on the QB. The Cowboys used an exclusive tag on Prescott so no other team would be able to negotiate with Prescott and force them to match a contract offer. This only happened because the player and the team could not agree on the terms of an extension.

The hold-up on the Prescott deal reportedly has been the Cowboys wanting to sign the QB to a five-year contract and Prescott wanting a four-year deal. Prescott evidently wants to hit free agency again sooner rather than later so he can capitalize on what’s expected to be a larger league-wide salary cap.

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NBC Sports’ Chris Simms in May claimed Prescott had turned down a five-year offer from Dallas that would have paid him $35 million per year (which at the time would have tied Russell Wilson’s league-high average salary), but both Prescott’s agent and the Cowboys said that report was false.

Prescott, though, is in a good spot money-wise, assuming he can stay healthy. The longer the Cowboys wait to extend him, the more they will have to pay. From SN’s Vinnie Iyer:

“Dallas has made roster moves with Prescott in mind and not just for one season. The Cowboys don’t want Prescott to go anywhere, and (team owner) Jerry Jones has a history of eventually giving in to his superstar players and giving them exactly what they want.

“Prescott should have great confidence that he will stay healthy and continue to play at an elite level with more of (offensive coordinator Kellen) Moore with (new coach Mike) McCarthy’s influence. Prescott can also work to add what went missing from his resume in 2019, leading the Cowboys to a third NFC playoff berth in five years.

“Because of their raised offensive explosion, revamped defense and now Super Bowl-experienced coaching, the Cowboys are better positioned to contend for the conference crown. Prescott can seize that opportunity, knowing that leading Dallas to the long-lost Super Bowl can get him a lot closer to (Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ deal ($45 million per year) than Wilson’s.”

NFL rules state that Prescott while playing on the franchise tag can’t sign a new contract until after the 2020 season. Which means he will have even more leverage in contract negotiations in 2021 than he did this year.

If the Cowboys were to fail to extend Prescott in 2021 and tag him a second time, his guaranteed salary would rise to $37.7 million. Which would be a massive blow to the team’s salary cap, a hit that could be mitigated by a long-term extension.

Which is why most expect the Cowboys to finally extend their quarterback next year. As for 2020, even without the safety net that would have been more guaranteed money on a long-term deal, Prescott will be just fine earning north of $31 million. 

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