Lost amidst all the quarterback movement rumors (of which there are many) this offseason is the fact that Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys will be re-entering contract negotiations after a failed attempt last year that ended in a franchise tag for the quarterback. Prescott has more leverage this year after he got Dallas off to a roaring offensive start, got hurt, and watched as the team utterly collapsed the rest of the season. There is no more debate to be had: Prescott is a good-to-great quarterback on a weekly basis and the Cowboys are entirely reliant on him to be a competitive football team. No hardball should be played by Dallas.
The finer points of the new contract and the exact number of dollars and cents will still be haggled over. Dallas wasn't willing to meet Prescott's price point last season, and if his agent is any good, that price point will have only gotten higher after the world saw what the Cowboys were like without their star signal-caller. It feels likely a deal will be struck; franchising Prescott for a second consecutive year would cost the franchise $37.7 million, an untenable number given the incoming cap crunch. They could nearly halve that cap hit with a long-term deal, which should be in the interest of both the team and the player.
There is no reason for Prescott to take a dime less than he's worth. He proved how valuable he was to this team this year. It is Dallas' fault that he is hitting free agency again this offseason. Yet Carson Palmer is of the opinion that Prescott should take a discount. Why? He has the privilege of playing QB for America's Team, an appointment that lasts a lifetime in the minds of everyone watching the game. Palmer appeared on 105.3 The Fan to express his thoughts.
""I love Dak's game. I think he's great. I think he shouldn't shoot for the moon (on his next contract)," Palmer said on Shan and RJ. "Being the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, there's a lot that comes with that financially. So, you don't have to be the top-paid quarterback in the league. You can make as much as the top-paid quarterback in the league when you're the Dallas Cowboys quarterback if you do take less. Because, if you win in Dallas, look at today's television networks. You got Troy Aikman (Fox analyst), Jason Witten (former Monday Night Football analyst) and Tony Romo (CBS analyst) all on nationally televised games. Partially, because of their playing careers, but a majority of that is because they played for the Dallas Cowboys. They are a household name. You've seen Dak on tons of commercials and endorsements. You can make that same top-tier money if you're Dak and you take a little bit less, and you keep all the players around you within the salary cap structure.""
Palmer's points about the opportunities afforded to former Cowboys players in both the media and endorsement world are certainly legitimate. So is his argument about the flexibility it would offer the Cowboys in terms of the cap situation.
But Prescott doesn't owe his team any favors, nor would taking a lesser salary make a big difference in terms of roster construction. The Cowboys already have a few monster contracts on the books that all but eliminate their personnel flexibility. La'el Collins, Jaylon Smith, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and DeMarcus Lawrence all signed deals worth north of $50 million. Prescott would have to accept making, say, $20 million a year instead of $40 million in order to grant Dallas significantly more freedom under the cap than they would otherwise.
And that kind of discount is ridiculous. There's a reason Tom Brady is an outlier when it comes to signing deals below market value. No other player had the kind of security he had, in both the financial and roster sense of things. Prescott should recognize how quickly things can change after one play eliminated his entire season.
Prescott should and probably will get his money. While I understand Palmer's thought process, it's insane to suggest Prescott give his team, quite literally the most valuable sports franchise in the whole world, a discount because it'll lead to broadcast opportunities and endorsements 15 years down the road. Nobody suggests any other top-flight quarterback should do that for their team. Why should Dak?