Should the Cowboys sign or trade Dak Prescott?

Dallas Cowboys, NFL Free Agency

The Dallas Cowboys have a big decision to make with Dak Prescott, who wants to be paid top dollar and appears to be headed towards a franchise tag staredown with the team.

The Dallas Cowboys decided against paying Dak Prescott last offseason.

They paid running back Ezekiel Elliott instead. Now, the Cowboys are in a brutal negotiating position when it comes to Prescott.

The 2019 regular season was Prescott’s best yet, with the fourth-year quarterback passing for nearly 5,000 yards with 30 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions. Given the number of NFL teams in need of quarterback help, Prescott can rightly say he should be paid top dollar.

The Cowboys came close to a deal with Prescott during the regular season but reportedly balked over his asking price. That amount, which was rumored to be as high as $40 million per season, will seem like much more realistic once Patrick Mahomes signs a long-term deal to reset the quarterback market.

If the two sides can’t get a deal done by the franchise tag deadline, Prescott could simply sign the tender and begin a potential path towards unrestricted free agency in 2022 by following the Kirk Cousins playbook. Rather than signing a huge deal with the Redskins, Cousins bet on himself by taking huge paydays from the tag, getting to a point where the Redskins simply let him walk.

Cousins signed with the Minnesota Vikings and the Redskins got left with nothing for a quarterback they poured a lot of resources into, and that is the kind of fate Dallas has to avoid. If Prescott indicates that he is content to simply start signing franchise tags without a long-term contract, Dallas would be smart to listen to offers for him.

This is a quarterback-heavy draft, and if the Cowboys really like someone in this class they could trade Prescott for multiple high draft picks to get a fresh start at the position. One new option that springs to mind is the Los Angeles Chargers, who are picking sixth and have moved on from Philip Rivers.

Before Cowboys’ fans start forming an angry mob, it is worth mentioning that the NFL is currently set up to reward teams who can win on a quarterback’s rookie contract. If Prescott is taking up $40 million in cap space and isn’t an elite quarterback, it feels like a waste of resources that could go towards retaining talents like Amari Cooper and Byron Jones.

This all depends, of course, on whether there is a rookie quarterback the Cowboys feel like they can quickly develop into a star under new coach Mike McCarthy. If Dallas feels strongly like there isn’t one, the smarter play is to sign Prescott quickly so they can allocate the rest of their resources to put together a contender.

The decision the Cowboys face isn’t as straightforward as it would appear, and a trade can’t be ruled out the longer this process drags on. All signs would indicate that Prescott should be a Cowboy for a long time, but things could change if the right trade offer hits the table.

Next: 5 top free agent fits for Tom Brady

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