Amid conflicting reports that Dak Prescott is seeking $40 million a year for his next contract, fans and media personalities alike have taken to social media to voice their disbelief. Such a contract would not only make Prescott the highest paid QB in the league, supplanting Russell Wilson by $5 million per year, it would also take up more than 14% of Dallas’s cap moving forward. For a front office already locked in negotiations with Pro Bowlers Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper, that figure would be an understandably tough pill to swallow.
According to Cowboys Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones, Dallas has put offers on the table for all three players which would place them in the top 5 at their respective positions. While that statement doesn’t specify guaranteed money vs. total contract value and structure, it sounds reasonable for a team trying to build and maintain a championship-contending roster. Should they be forced to pay their quarterback an extra $10 million/year, however, cracks could begin to show in their foundation.
Since the end of the Cowboys’ 2018 season, the purported value of Prescott’s forthcoming contract has ballooned from $25 million to now, depending on the source, as much as $40 million. Such is business in the NFL where the next “good” quarterback always seems to rake in eye-popping figures. In Prescott’s case, he’s undoubtedly enjoyed much success to date, winning more games than any quarterback not named Tom Brady the past three seasons while claiming two NFC East titles and earning himself a pair of trips to the Pro Bowl.
Prescott is the unquestioned leader of Dallas Cowboys, playing the most polarizing position in American sports for the most valuable sports franchise in the world. Even still, $40 million is simply too much. You might even say it’s unbelievable. As in, I don’t believe he asked for that much.
This entire negotiation process has been very public, with the media being utilized to push various talking points and angles. This latest development is likely just the next step in that progression. When Dak turned down Dallas’s previous offer of $30 million/ year, the perception became that he was asking for too much –even with us not knowing the guaranteed money or years offered by Dallas. Take that then a step further to say he’s asking for $40 million and the notion becomes completely absurd. But why would the team push something like that if Dak’s agent hadn’t stated as much? Because now if Dak signs a more likely deal, such as Carson Wentz’s $32 million average, the perception becomes that the front office “won” and Dak ultimately did what was best for the team and not himself because that’s the kind of leader he is. If this ends up not being the case, however, Dallas may soon be approaching an impasse with its quarterback.
If the $40 million figure is in fact true, then even trying to split the difference to pay him $35 million would be a stretch given the support he’s needed in order to be successful. In 2017 Prescott faced 6 games without Ezekiel Elliott. He led the Cowboys to a 3-3 record in those games, though it is worth noting he was also without Tyron Smith throughout much of that stretch. The following season, the Cowboys stumbled out of the gate with a 3-5 start before trading for Amari Cooper. In the absence of a dominant number one receiver, Dak and company had produced one of the league’s worst scoring offenses, making it even more apparent he cannot do it alone or just with Zeke.
In most rankings, Prescott hovers somewhere around the edge of the top half of the league as far as starting quarterbacks are concerned, and while he’s proven himself worthy of a new deal, he needs to keep the bigger picture in mind. Even if he did somehow net himself the $40 million/year deal he’s reportedly seeking, the degree to which the Cowboys would have to handicap their roster would weaken their chances to contend in the future. In 2019, the Dallas Cowboys are about as deep a roster as you’ll find in the NFL, but if they pay Dak Prescott $35-$40 million a year, they’ll all but guarantee that won’t remain the case for long.