By Clarence E. Hill Jr. Fort Worth Star-Telegram
It’s now official.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will play the 2020 season on the franchise tag, worth a guaranteed $31.4 million.
Not only did Prescott and the Cowboys fail to get a long-term deal done before Wednesday’s deadline, but they didn’t even talk in the days and hours leading up to it.
What it means immediately is that Prescott will report and play the season with the highest one-year salary in franchise history. The two sides can’t resume negotiations until after the season.
What it means as far as Prescott and the team’s long-stated goal of coming to terms on a long-term deal to keep him in Dallas for years to come is anybody’s guess at this point.
If they couldn’t get a deal done now, one might question what hope is there for them to get done before the 2021 season when Prescott’s asking price will most certainly go up, especially if he has the season he and the Cowboys expect him to have under first-year head coach Mike McCarthy.
The exclusive franchise tag for 2021 is $37.7 million, if the Cowboys select that option again.
That number will be the baseline of any future long-term deal, which blows away the last offer the team made to Prescott in March.
Prescott turned down a five-year deal worth more than $34 million annually that included $110 million in guaranteed money.
Prescott wants a four-year deal. The Cowboys prefer to do five-year deals to help spread the money over the salary cap.
According to Pro Football Talk, the guaranteed money on the five-year offer was too low for Prescott and his agent, Todd France, to accept.
And neither side budged. However, both sides appear to be comfortable with Prescott playing the season on the franchise tag.
For Prescott, it’s another season of betting on himself to maximize his earning potential.
He did that in 2019 when he played for $2.1 million in the last year of his rookie deal and had the best statistical season of his career, passing for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions.
While Prescott didn’t net a long-term deal, he is guaranteed $31.4 million in 2020 and obviously has the prospect of making millions more in future years. In just looking at the franchise tags, after 2021’s $37.7 million it balloons to $54 million in 2022, if the Cowboys choose to go that route.
The latter is not likely, which means he could hit the free-agent market for even bigger money after making $69 million in 2020 and 2021 combined.
It’s all on the table now.
Eight NFL quarterbacks have been hit with the franchise tag since 1993. Only two were forced to play under the tag after not getting long-term deals from their respective teams _ Drew Brees, then of the San Diego Chargers and Kirk Cousins, then of Washington’s NFL franchise.
Both ended up signing free-agent deals with other teams. Brees, who eventually signed with the New Orleans Saints, moved on after the one season under the tag largely because the Chargers drafted Phillip Rivers.
Cousins was tagged twice by Washington before signing with the Minnesota Vikings for three years and $84 million fully guaranteed before the 2018 season. He has since signed a two-year $66 million extension giving him a deal worth $96 million over the next three years.
It must be noted that signing Prescott in 2021 is not a bad option if the Cowboys are looking to save some cash in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic when the team is expected to lose money due fewer or no fans in the stands at AT&T Stadium.
But they will have to be creative.
As of now, they don’t have money under the cap to afford a franchise tag of $37.7 million.
But that is an issue for next year.
Prescott is playing on the tag in 2020.