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If the Dallas Cowboys didn’t understand quarterback Dak Prescott’s value before this season, the lowly 2020 NFC East showed them.
Prescott suffered a compound fracture to his ankle in Week 5 against the Giants – and the Cowboys went 4-7 with three other quarterbacks the rest of the way, squandering a chance to make the playoffs in a year where the division champion had a losing record.
Prescott is the unquestioned top quarterback in the NFC East after Carson Wentz’s mysterious plummet for the Philadelphia Eagles. So, how does that impact his contract talks?
“I don’t know how [he] could have any more leverage,” Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.
The sides were not able to reach an agreement on a long-term extension last offseason, and Prescott played on the franchise tag – a one-year contract worth $31.4 million. If Prescott plays on the tag again in 2021, his salary will be $37.7 million.
The Cowboys reportedly offered Prescott a five-year deal that included a $50 million signing bonus and $110 million guaranteed, but the quarterback was looking for a four-year deal. He bet on himself by playing on the tag – and was on pace for his best statistical season prior to injury.
“His evolving into an NFL quarterback has been nothing short of a perfect picture,” Jones said. “You wouldn’t offer Dak what we offered in the past if you’d not thought he was very special. The issue is, how do you come together? And that’s no stranger to me. I’ve been doing it all my life, putting things together. We’ve got to get it together.”
Under NFL rule, the Cowboys and Prescott’s agent Todd France can resume contract talks now that the season is over. With NFL revenues down due to COVID-19, the salary cap per team could fall by as much as 11 percent in 2021.
“We have a certain amount, period, that can be paid to players every year,” Jones said. “It’s a very competitive thing, and the longer the term, the more flexibility you’ve got in any numbers that you have in a contract. The planning ahead, the looking at what you can spend, what you can give on any other free agents, that’s your overall planning.”
So, how does Jones regain some leverage for the team? He dropped a hint when talking about how the Cowboys need to improve their weakness to become a more balanced team.
“We’ve got to pay additional defense this year,” Jones said, “and any dollar that goes there doesn’t go towards another player. That’s how simple it is.”