How much should the Cowboys pay Dak Prescott?

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys openly admit they want Dak Prescott to be their franchise quarterback, but they need to be careful not to overpay the young signal caller. 

Jerry Jones is under a lot of pressure to ink three big-name offensive weapons to new contracts. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper all want to get paid. The Cowboys clearly want to keep their franchise quarterback in place, but negotiations with Prescott aren’t off to a good start.

Recent reports claim that Prescott and his representatives turned down a contract offer from the Cowboys that would have paid him an annual average salary of $30 million. Jane Slater of NFL Network goes so far as to claim that Prescott is looking for a deal that will pay him $40 million per season.

For the record, $40 million per season would make Prescott the highest-paid quarterback in football by a wide margin. Currently the honor goes to Seahawks’ signal caller Russell Wilson. The deal he signed in the offseason raised some eyebrows with its average annual value of $35 million per season. It’s safe to say that Prescott earning $5 million more than Wilson per year would send shockwaves throughout the NFL.

In fairness to Prescott and his representatives, attempting to start negotiations at $40 million per season is a clever tactic. Making such a monumental ask puts the Cowboys front office off-balance. That could easily cause them to increase their initial contract offer to Prescott significantly.

In other words, it’s very likely that Prescott and his inner circle are keenly aware they won’t be getting such a rich deal. It only strengthens their negotiating position to open talks by asking for the moon.

The salient question to answer here is what sort of deal the Cowboys should be comfortable offering their franchise quarterback. Interestingly, the Dallas front office has already admitted they have a “top five” deal on the table for Prescott. If you assume that speaks to the average annual value in their offer, it means that the Cowboys are willing to pay him at least $30 million per season. That figure is right in line with the team’s opening offer that Prescott reportedly turned down.

As always, the devil is going to be in the details. Prescott’s annual average value will almost certainly come in between $30 and $35 million per season. The Cowboys can’t afford to lower their offer, so $30 million per year represents the floor. Wilson’s salary of $35 million per year sets the ceiling. The Cowboys won’t be coaxed into making Prescott the highest paid quarterback in the game.

The likely landing spot for Prescott’s deal is right in the middle of those two numbers. Handing him a deal worth $32.5 million per season would slot him in as the fourth highest paid signal caller in the league. Not coincidentally, that would also place him just ahead of division rival Carson Wentz in yearly earnings.

The other question the Cowboys front office must answer is how many years they are comfortable committing to Prescott. At 26 years of age he’s really just entering the prime of his career. Dallas would be smart to try to tie him up with a long-term extension. Quarterback salaries are only going to rise as the league gravitates more towards the passing game.

Prescott, on the other hand, would like to get another chance to hit free agency in his prime. Expect his representatives to push for a four or five-year deal. That would give him a shot to hit the open market again at 30 or 31. If his career continues to progress that would allow him to secure another big deal to take him into his late 30s.

Again, compromise will rule the day here. Six years would represent a reasonable win for both sides. It would give the Cowboys a great deal of stability at the game’s most important position while giving Prescott life changing money and a chance to get another big deal.

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The two sides will still quibble over the exact structure of guarantees and signing bonuses, but a deal of approximately six years and $195 million could be where this thing ends up. The sooner this deal is struck the better off everyone in Dallas will feel.

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