Dak Prescott will return to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2021 NFL season. The only question left facing the superstar passer, who is still recovering from a gruesome leg injury, is what kind of contract he will sign with the team.
The 27-year-old played under the franchise tag this season, receiving $31.4 million from Jerry Jones. Unfortunately, just five games into the season, he went down with a compound ankle fracture and missed the rest of the year. Despite the frightening image of the injury when it happened, Prescott is expected to be healthy for the 2021 season and it seems the Cowboys are ready to do whatever it takes to bring him back.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Cowboys intend to make a strong push to sign Prescott to a contract extension this offseason. If talks don’t go well before the March 9 deadline, they will then apply the franchise tag to him for the second consecutive year.
It’s certainly not the desired outcome for Dallas. Just a few years ago, the Washington Football Team took the same approach with Kirk Cousins. After playing on the franchise tag twice, he later signed with the Minnesota Vikings. This time around, it will be even more costly for Dallas to use the exclusive tag for a second time.
Even with the 2021 NFL salary cap dropping, Prescott will receive a raise on his next contract. A second consecutive tag means he will make $37.7 million next season, money that is fully guaranteed. It’s an outcome the Cowboys would love to avoid, but still preferable to one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks hitting the open market.
A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Prescott would have no trouble finding a huge contract on the open market. While he wouldn’t reach Patrick Mahomes’ record-setting deal, teams would be more than comfortable approaching the $39 million average annual value Deshaun Watson signed under his contract.
The Cowboys have made it clear they want Prescott back, but even Jones admitted who has the leverage in this situation. Discussions will need to start at a $38 million AAV. It’s a figure much higher than Prescott wanted last season, when he sought a four-year contract for approximately $35 million annually. But the Cowboys couldn’t get things done and were ripped across the NFL.
If both sides can’t agree to a long-term extension, that’s when things will get interesting. Prescott can hold out until training camp, before signing the tag before practice begins. If an extension isn’t reached before the July 15 deadline, he’ll either hit free agency as a 28-year-old star quarterback or become the first player to be tagged three times.