Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys still have not come to an agreement on a long-term contract, as I'm sure you've heard. For the second year in a row, negotiations between the two parties will likely rule the offseason news cycle. As of now, the rumor mill suggests they are not much closer to an agreement than they were when it all began.
It all comes down to the money, as it always has. The pickings have been surprisingly slim as far as reports about what each side is battling for in that regard. It is, however, safe to assume that Prescott wants top-tier QB money in the form of yearly salary and guaranteed money. Based on current QB contracts, those demands would consist of a yearly salary somewhere around $37 million and nearing $100 million total guaranteed. That is a lot of dough for a guy who missed nearly all of last season and does not rank among the top-five quarterbacks in the NFL by any statistical measure, but a franchise QB is the most valuable commodity in sports. The Cowboys were reminded of that when they lost seven of their last 11 games after Prescott went down.
As Adam Schefter noted earlier in the offseason, Prescott has all the leverage. And it appears that he's going to use it to the fullest extent possible. NFL Network's Jane Slater, who has always had solid sources within the Cowboys organization, appeared on the Dan Patrick Show yesterday to discuss the situation and said that her Cowboys source feels talks have been more productive of late. She also said that Prescott wants to be paid "right behind" Patrick Mahomes.
Slater went on to note that Dallas feels their offer is "respectable," and Prescott's camp wants the QB to hold strong and fight for what they believe to be his market value. Given that a deal has not been struck, it is apparent that whatever the Cowboys are offering, it is not "right behind" what Mahomes is making.
To be clear, Prescott likely does not want to be paid like Mahomes. The Chiefs superstar's 10-year contract is an exception to all rules, just as Mahomes' play often is. Prescott's agent isn't walking into the building and pointing to the Chiefs' willingness to sign their franchise QB for a decade and asking why the Cowboys won't do that. Nobody does that. Mahomes is unique in all aspects.
Reading between the lines, then, what this probably means is that Prescott wants a yearly salary and a proportional guaranteed salary that will be close to what Mahomes is getting. His salary slots in at about $45 million a year and he'll receive $141 million total guaranteed. Prescott would then presumably be asking for a salary at or north of $40 million with a baseline of $100 million total guaranteed.
That's all well and good, but the problem is that Prescott is not as good as Mahomes. Obviously. Nor is he as good as Deshaun Watson ($39 million salary, $111 total guaranteed) or Russell Wilson ($35 million salary, $107 million total guaranteed). That isn't how negotiations work, of course. Jared Goff made the same amount of money as Aaron Rodgers last year and nobody is going to tell you that Goff is better than Rodgers. For guys like Prescott, coming off their rookie contracts and their best days presumably ahead of them, it's about teams emptying their wallets based on current market value and future performance.
Prescott can certainly make the argument that he's valuable enough for the team to meet his demands. What will stand in his way is that the Cowboys just watched the Eagles and Rams trade their quarterbacks. Two teams who paid young quarterbacks more than their current play was worth based on market value and expected future performance. Not only did they have to trade those quarterbacks, they either had to attach picks to get rid of him (in the case of the Rams) or settle for compensation nowhere near equal the cost of the contract would suggest (in the case of the Eagles).
Dallas does not want to be the Eagles or Rams. The Carson Wentz/Jared Goff transactions are big warning signs for teams across the NFL. The Cowboys were terrible without Prescott this year, but Jerry Jones does not want to fork over a nine-digit guarantee for his team to be slightly better then realize their only path forward is to trade Prescott. That isn't an inevitable future, but this offseason showed it can happen, and it can happen quickly. Prescott might want to get paid like Mahomes, but he may have to wait a while yet before he gets an offer like that.