Will Cowboys, Dak Prescott find a middle ground?

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

When Cowboys COO Stephen Jones recently tried to make the case for quarterback Dak Prescott not being paid like Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, a reasonable reaction may have been this: Does Dak Prescott actually want to be paid like Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson?

Maybe Dak does. After all, the recent elephant walk of quarterback contracts starting with Andrew Luck has resulted in the next guy one-upping the last guy, over and over again from Luck ($24.6 million) to Derek Carr ($25 million) to Matthew Stafford ($27 million) to Jimmy Garoppolo ($27.5 million) to Kirk Cousins ($28 million) to Matt Ryan ($30 million) to Rodgers ($33.5 million) to Wilson ($35 million).

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If Dak wants to move to the front of the line, it’s not likely to happen any time soon, if ever. The Cowboys could instead pay Prescott $2 million this year before embarking on a franchise-tag dance that would be in the range of $25 million in 2020 and $30 million in 2021.

Actually, the target zone for the two sides should be that range of $25 million to $30 million. Accepting Jones’ implicit logic that Dak shouldn’t be paid like Rodgers and Wilson because they have Super Bowl wins, Prescott (who has a playoff win) should get more than Carr, Stafford, Garoppolo, and Cousins, because they have zero career playoff wins, combined.

If Prescott is willing to hold firm for $30 million or more, that could be a problem — especially if he’s also willing to go year to year. Come 2022, the Cowboys would be looking at a franchise tender north of $43 million, and that could be the point where Dak hits the open market.

It’s fair to ask what Dak would get if he were on the open market. Maybe the best play for the Cowboys would be to not tag Dak, to let him see what else is out there (or not out there), and then make a competitive offer. Given the endorsement money that Prescott can earn as the quarterback of America’s Team, he’d quite possibly realize after getting a glimpse of what’s behind Door No. 2 that remaining QB1 in Dallas makes the most sense.

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