We're three months away from the start of the NFL season (hopefully) and the Dallas Cowboys have yet to reach an extension with Dak Prescott. Prescott hasn't signed the franchise tag with negotiations ongoing. The PR war continues to rage as the Cowboys signed Andy Dalton for insurance purposes and Stephen Jones recently said the team is hesitant to dedicate a significant portion of the salary cap to their quarterback because the numbers suggest it's much harder to win a Super Bowl when that is the case.
Of late, rumors suggest that the hangup is Prescott's desire for a five-year deal rather than the four years the Cowboys are offering. Marcus Spears was on Get Up on Monday to explain why that doesn't sound quite right to him, and that the situation as a whole feels off:
"If they've offered Dak $35 million a year and over $100 million guaranteed and he's turning it down because of an extra year, Dak is crazy. He's out of his mind for turning that down. The second thing I will say is this, though; I'm not sure if that is the case. I'm thinking something about the structure of this contract is giving Dak and his agent pause before signing," said Spears. "I've never known a guy to fight over a year if he's going to get $100 million guaranteed. Because, usually, that's all that matters to NFL players is, 'What am I getting going to my bank account?' All other stuff, you can chalk it up to maybes."
"I keep coming back to why... When is the last time we've seen a team have this much trouble signing their supposedly franchise quarterback? When have we seen apprehension? When we have heard the general manager/owner come out and say when you pay your quarterback top money you don't win Super Bowls?" Spears continued. "Out of every contract we've watched get done, from the Jared Goffs to the Carson Wentzs to the Russell Wilsons and everybody in between, there was not this delay. There was not this many players being signed to the team before the quarterback being signed. There was not a nine-year starter signed as a backup. All of this stuff! And we keep watching it like they'll go about normal business and they'll get the deal done. This ain't normal!"
To Spears' point, it does seem off that the difference of an extra season under contract is Prescott's holdup if the guaranteed money doesn't change one way or the other. But the first part of Spears' speech when he calls Prescott crazy is why teams leak information like that as a part of the aforementioned PR battle. He is also correct to observe that we haven't seen this kind of negotiation with a franchise QB in recent history. Wentz, Goff, and Wilson signed on the dotted line without much fanfare in the public eye.
But Cowboys management coming out and saying it's hard to win Super Bowls if you give your quarterback a lot of money is less about Prescott and more about Jerry Jones' willingness to dance with the press from where I'm sitting. The reason they haven't come to a deal is because Prescott's value is hard to pin down. He's definitely an above-average quarterback with a higher floor than many of his counterparts, but from what we've seen, he won't put together an MVP-level campaign. At any other position, that quality of player doesn't get to reset the market with a record-breaking extension like Prescott is working towards.
But quarterback is the most valuable position in the league. That's why the Rams gave Goff all that money despite the fact that he, like Prescott, will likely never be a top-three signalcaller in the league. It's better the devil you do know than the devil you don't, as the old saying goes. Los Angeles was willing to pay Goff more than his performances justified because of the risk that, if they didn't, the team would have to eventually downgrade at the position. And, salary cap statistics aside, you need at least an above-average quarterback to win a Super Bowl nine times out of ten.
Dallas is now faced with the same choice. So far it seems they've balked at breaking the bank for Prescott, in no small part because of their willingness to do so in the recent past with Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper. Spears is right to believe this situation isn't normal, but the reasons why aren't difficult to discern. Prescott is right in the sweet spot of a good-but-not-always-great player at the most important position in (debatably) all of sports. How the Cowboys view his value as a player will determine how quickly this gets done-- or if it gets done at all.