The week after Dak Prescott suffered a devastating season-ending ankle injury, the Cowboys set the groundwork for contentious contract negotiations. It appears they haven't backed off their hardball stance.
According to Ian Rapoport, the Cowboys remain resolute in keeping Prescott around for at least another year and are willing to slap the franchise tag on him for a second straight season to ensure he doesn't go anywhere in free agency. While the Cowboys will also try and negotiate a long-term deal with Prescott, as they did last offseason, the threat of them placing the franchise tag on him a second time is a clear negotiation tactic to encourage the quarterback to take the deal they're offering and concede points on the deal he wants.
Prescott would make around $37.7 million in 2021 if the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on him again. While that's obviously a lot of money, it's not the long-term security the quarterback or his agent want, especially after he suffered what could have been an even more catastrophic injury. It's an important piece of leverage the Jones family will try and use, and this isn't the first time a leak like this has happened, either.
In October, a similar report emerged saying Jerry Jones was willing to franchise Prescott for a second time. It was curious timing considering Prescott had been injured a week earlier, but it's clear the Cowboys are trying to squeeze every small bit they can out of Prescott.
Deshaun Watson signed a four-year, $156 million contract with the Texans last offseason, including a $27 million signing bonus and over $110 million guaranteed. Prescott is in line for a similar deal and reportedly turned down a deal with an average value of around $30 million a year. A $40 million average would be the second-highest in the NFL behind only Patrick Mahomes.
The quarterback trade market is heating up, but Prescott's contract situation will be just as fun to monitor. He has leverage after the Cowboys fell apart following his injury, but it's clear the Cowboys are willing to do whatever they can to build leverage on their end too. It's an interesting decision considering what Prescott has already endured this season, but it's no surprise given how contentious and drawn out these negotiations have already been.