Agent’s Take: What If Dak Prescott performed in 2021 on a second franchise tag as a substitute of signing long-term deal?


The Cowboys‘ 23-17 loss to the 49ers within the wild card playoff spherical because the NFC’s third seed led to a nightmare. A 17-yard quarterback draw by Dak Prescott with 14 seconds remaining took an excessive amount of time for Dallas to kill the clock to run a remaining play from San Francisco’s 24-yard line for a possible game-winning landing.

Fortuitously for Dallas, one other nightmare has been prevented as a result of Prescott’s desire was a long-term deal quite than enjoying the 2021 season underneath a second franchise tag for $37,690,080. Prescott signed a four-year, $160 million contract value as much as $164 million by means of incentives in March. The deal has $126 million of ensures, which features a then-NFL report $95 million absolutely assured at signing. Prescott’s $66 million signing bonus, which is a part of the $95 million, is the most important in league historical past. 

Prescott turned the NFL’s second-highest-paid participant at $40 million per yr with the deal behind solely Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who acquired a 10-year, $450 million contract extension (value as much as $475 million with incentives) averaging $45 million per yr from the Chiefs in 2020. He was subsequently handed for second place when Payments quarterback Josh Allen signed a six-year, $258 million extension (value a most of $288 million by means of incentives) averaging $43 million per yr in August. 

The final quarterback to embrace the franchise tag was Kirk Cousins. After enjoying underneath franchise tags for consecutive seasons with the Washington Soccer Staff in 2016 and 2017, Cousins broke new floor by signing the NFL’s first profitable absolutely assured veteran contract with the Vikings in 2018 as an unrestricted free agent. Cousins’ three-year, $84 million deal, which made him the league’s highest-paid participant at $28 million per yr, was value as much as $90 million with incentives. He had regressed statistically in 2017 from the earlier yr and Washington missed the playoffs with a 7-9 report for third place within the NFC East when he acquired the deal. 

The Cowboys would have been prohibited from signing Prescott long-term till Jan. 10, after the common season had ended a day earlier, if he spent 2021 on a second franchise tag. The roster composition would have modified as a result of the second franchise tag would have been practically $15.5 million extra underneath the 2021 wage cap than Prescott’s $22.2 million 2021 cap quantity when his four-year deal was signed. A $6.25 million wage conversion in September as the beginning of the common season was approaching freed up $5 million of cap area to convey the cap quantity distinction to nearly $20.5 million. 

Dallas designating Prescott as a franchise participant for a 3rd consecutive yr would have been cost-prohibitive. A 3rd and remaining franchise tag with a 44% improve over the 2021 determine would have been $54,274,752.

The Cowboys aren’t in nice form wage cap-wise for the 2022 league yr. There are at present $222.46 million in 2022 cap commitments, that are the NFL’s fourth most, with 42 gamers underneath contract and $3.96 million of cap area being carried over to the 2022 league yr, in response to NFLPA information. Solely the highest 51 salaries (i.e.; cap numbers) matter with offseason wage cap accounting guidelines. The 2022 wage cap is anticipated to be on the $208.2 million ceiling the NFL and NFLPA agreed to in Might. As soon as there are 51 gamers counting, Dallas is projected to be roughly $18 million over this ceiling.

Clearly, Prescott’s $34.45 million 2022 cap quantity would not be part of the equation with out a long-term deal. Even when the practically $20.5 million distinction in Prescott’s precise $17.2 million 2021 cap quantity and the $37,690,080 is taken into consideration, Dallas would solely have a little bit greater than $1 million of 2022 cap area. Numerous wage cap gymnastics with restructuring contracts and releasing gamers would have been essential to accommodate a Prescott franchise tag at $54,274,752. 

Athletes First’s Todd France, Prescott agent, can be licking his chops together with his consumer on the verge of free company. In France’s sneakers, the one method I’d do a cope with Dallas earlier than the two-day window opened on March 14 previous to the beginning of free company — when NFL groups are allowed to barter with the brokers of potential unrestricted free brokers — can be if particularly instructed by Prescott that he did not wish to take a look at the market. 

Following the Cousins blueprint the place Prescott turned the NFL’s highest-paid participant on a completely assured three-year contract would have been my goal. Mahomes’ $45 million per yr would not be the usual. As a substitute, it will be Allen’s league-leading $137,945,405 within the first three new contract years, which averages $45,981,802 per yr. The thought can be for Prescott to be positioned to hit the open market as a 31-year-old.

My goal for the bottom worth can be between $140 million and $145 million ($46,666,667 and $48,333,333 per yr). There would have to be not less than $2 million in annual incentives, much like the Cousins deal, so the utmost worth would prime Allen’s $48 million per yr in a worst-case situation. Cousins’ no-trade clause and language stopping a transition participant designation would have additionally been requirements. Voiding/dummy 2025 and 2026 contract years might be added if needed for wage cap functions.

Prescott’s playoff shortcomings would not be a consideration for me. Cowboys legendary former head coach Jimmy Johnson, in reference to a Fox Sports activities NFL graphic declaring that Prescott and Tony Romo have the identical 1-3 playoff report by means of their first six NFL seasons, referred to as it “a disgrace” on Twitter. The 49ers sport was Prescott’s worst playoff efficiency statistically. Prescott accomplished a playoff-low 53.5% of his passes (23 of 43 go makes an attempt) for a 69.3 passer score, which is definitely his worst in postseason play.

The six-game “stoop” in the course of the season, after Prescott’s proper calf pressure throughout Week 6’s contest in opposition to the Patriots, would even be dismissed. Throughout that 3-3 six-game stretch, Prescott accomplished 63.2% of his passes (151 of 239) for 1,568 yards with eight touchdowns and 6 interceptions to put up an 82.8 passer score. 

General, Prescott ranked close to the highest in a number of statistical classes this season. He ranked third with a 104.2 passing score. Prescott had the fourth-best completion share at 68.8% and his 37 landing passes are a Cowboys single-season report and tied for the fourth most within the league. He ranked seventh with 4,449 passing yards. Prescott additionally received NFC Offensive Participant of the Week honors on three separate events, which was greater than anyone else this season. 

I consulted just a few present and former NFL executives I’ve good relationships with about my Prescott situation. Their responses had been made solely underneath the situation of anonymity apart from former longtime Eagles president and Browns CEO Joe Banner, whose strategy to navigating the wage cap and negotiating participant contracts was instrumental in Philadelphia going to 5 NFC Championship Video games and one Tremendous Bowl in an eight-year span throughout the 2000s. 

Everybody was in settlement that Prescott would grow to be the league’s highest-paid participant underneath these circumstances though no one thought he was within the prime quarterback tier (Tom Brady, Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and many others). Prescott nearly unanimously match into the second tier and is taken into account among the many league’s 10 finest quarterbacks. The least complimentary remark about Prescott’s talents got here from a former AFC staff govt. He referred to as Prescott “a greater model of Kirk Cousins.”

No person balked on the low finish of my goal vary. One AFC staff negotiator thought Prescott would have a lot leverage that Dallas can be pressured to provide him no matter he wished. An AFC basic supervisor stated, “I do not find out about absolutely assured however Prescott would have essentially the most player-friendly contract within the NFL.” 

Banner by no means thought of a 3rd franchise tag as a official choice when working groups due to the fee. He additionally raised an fascinating level about why Cowboys proprietor Jerry Jones would meet Prescott’s contract calls for. It was Jones who discovered by means of expertise how laborious it was to discover a good quarterback after Troy Aikman retired and would not let one, significantly at Prescott’s age (he turns 29 in July), stroll out the door. 

An NFC staff negotiator advised Prescott taking pictures for a five-year contract, particularly if all the quantity was absolutely assured. He would have the safety to forego a three-year deal and nonetheless have the ability to command one other prime contract when it expired. Banner was the one different particular person snug with doubtlessly absolutely guaranteeing 5 years. 

Structurally, the NFC staff negotiator envisioned extra modest cap numbers within the first two years which might begin ballooning in 2024 when there can be substantial wage cap progress. I did not get an concept of what the 2024 wage cap can be from the present staff executives. The $225 million-to-$230 million vary is being utilized by a few groups for the 2023 wage cap projections. 

I acquired a blended response once I raised the thought of $50 million per yr for Prescott. The AFC basic supervisor thought it was an excessive amount of. The NFC staff negotiator did not dismiss it outright however can be spending a number of time on plan B, particularly with a five-year dedication together with extraordinarily player-friendly ensures.

Fifty million per yr can be near Banner’s breaking level however he did not give a selected determine. He indicated it will take a “very aggressive quantity.” That is as a result of a extremely good quarterback ought to give a staff an opportunity nearly yearly in his estimation. The previous AFC govt stated, “In case you assume you have discovered your franchise quarterback, you then simply chew the bullet.”

I additionally requested how free company would play out if Dallas handed. The consensus was a weak quarterback draft class in comparison with current years and the uncertainty across the availability of Rodgers and Russell Wilson in a commerce, in addition to Deshaun Watson’s state of affairs, had been thought of useful to Prescott. 

It was unanimous that Washington would make a run at Prescott due to the necessity for quarterback stability and the possibility to weaken a division rival. The Broncos and Panthers had been talked about as subsequent most frequent potential suitors. A few individuals advised that the remainder of the NFC East would purse Prescott for related causes as Washington. The bulk thought France with the ability to play not less than two groups off in opposition to one another in free company would produce the very best common yearly wage for Prescott. 

“If gamers (that means quarterbacks) had been sensible, they’d be extra like Kirk Cousins,” stated the previous AFC staff govt. “That is how you can get the most effective deal financially. It simply would not occur for a wide range of causes.” Dallas ought to thank their fortunate stars Prescott did not go the Cousins route. Jones would have been caught between a rock and a tough place since actually good quarterbacks coming into their prime are by no means on the cusp of hitting free company. It stays to be seen when a quarterback will observe Cousins’ lead.



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