The Cowboys go all-in on Dak Prescott with dicey contract extension

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

By Matteo Venieri
Boston University News Service

After years of lengthy contract talks, leaks and speculations, Dak Prescott finally got the contract extension that will keep him in Dallas. On Monday, the quarterback QB and the Cowboys agreed on a four-year $160 million deal, with $126 million guaranteed and an NFL record $66 million signing bonus, according to ESPN.

On several occasions, both sides had expressed their mutual interest in prolonging their marriage, but struggled to agree on the details of the deal. Last season, it was reported that Prescott turned down $175 million over five years and instead signed a $31 million franchise tag. Despite suffering a fractured ankle in Week 5, his value only grew: Dallas’ offense plummeted without him and missed the playoffs.

Selected 135th overall in the 2016 Draft, arguably no player in the NFL has been as hard to evaluate as Prescott in recent years. On his best day, the Mississippi State product showed he is a prototypical dual-threat, able to both throw with accuracy and use his legs to get a first down. 

At the same time, thanks to a rookie deal that averaged just over one million dollars per year, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones surrounded Prescott with talented players on both sides of the football.

Nonetheless, it all resulted in a single playoff win.

With the new deal, Prescott’s salary will skyrocket to an average of $42 million per year over the next three seasons, making it increasingly harder for the team to acquire and retain other talent on their roster. This is especially critical after a 2020 season that exposed their lack of depth on the offensive line and their need for a major upgrade on defense.

Dallas was justified in taking their time to evaluate Prescott before agreeing to extend his rookie contract. Fellow draftees Jared Goff and Carson Wentz provide a good cautionary tale. Selected first and second overall in 2016, they signed massive contract extensions after their third year in the league — the earliest teams and players can negotiate a new deal. In both cases, the decision backfired and both the Rams and the Eagles had to use additional assets to unload their bad contracts to other teams.

Without the luxury of a fifth-year option, Dallas paid a premium last year to tag Prescott and buy more time to decide his long-term future. However, the injury gave them only five extra games. 

With only one day left to decide whether to tag the QB again or sign him to an extension, the Cowboys made their best offer. Only time will tell if Prescott’s contract will become yet another “albatross” for the team.

Now that he is the second-highest paid QB in the NFL, behind only Patrick Mahomes, Prescott must take his game to the next level. Not only will he have to prove that he is worth the money, but also handle the increasing pressure of winning a Super Bowl for America’s Team.

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