Dak Prescott is under contract with the Cowboys for 2020. But what happens next?

Dak Prescott signing the franchise tag with the Dallas Cowboys is a big deal because it provides some stability for 2020. For both sides.

Barring an unexpected holdout after signing the tag, Prescott will be the Cowboys’ quarterback from Week 1 on. There will presumably be no Le’Veon Bell-style holdout. Prescott will play and for a princely sum of $31.4 million. That’s good news for the Cowboys. And with some uncertainty over what will happen with NFL revenues in a season that might not have fans, it’s prudent for Prescott to ensure an enormous payday.

But there are still many unanswered questions about Prescott’s future, and how the story ends up beyond 2020.

July 15 still important for Cowboys, Dak Prescott

The July 15 deadline is still a big one. That’s the last day NFL teams can come to a long-term agreement with franchise-tagged players.

Signing the franchise tag might remove some leverage for Prescott. The Cowboys realistically can expect Prescott to be in camp on time and play in 2020 no matter whether an extension is signed. Bell never signed his second franchise tag with the Pittsburgh Steelers, so the team had no recourse against him.

Still, the Cowboys have maintained they want Prescott on a long-term deal. It will be a huge contract, perhaps the largest in NFL history or very close. That makes it complicated, but signing the franchise tag also has some impact on a potential trade for New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports explained.

If the deadline passes without a long-term deal, that’s when things get interesting.

Dak Prescott signed his franchise tag with the Cowboys on Monday. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott signed his franchise tag with the Cowboys on Monday. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Prescott will still get paid a ton without a long-term deal

Kirk Cousins provided the blueprint for a young quarterback to maximize his earning potential. Cousins got two franchise tags from the Washington Redskins, then became the rare starting quarterback in his prime to reach free agency. He signed a historic three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed deal with the Minnesota Vikings. He recently agreed to a two-year, $66 million extension too.

Prescott doesn’t have to sign a long-term deal with Dallas. The Cowboys could tag him again, but that would be for a little less than $38 million. In that scenario, Prescott would make roughly $70 million in 2020 and 2021 and then hit free agency at 27 years old. Given how infrequently quarterbacks of Prescott’s talent and age hit free agency, there would be a huge bidding war. The gamble for Prescott would be hoping the salary cap doesn’t make a big drop after this season in which revenues will likely be impacted by coronavirus restrictions.

Prescott has a lot of leverage. If he doesn’t want to sign a long deal with the Cowboys, he’s still going to make at least $31.4 million this year, likely $70 million over the next two seasons, and then become one of the most coveted free agents ever. That, and trying to ease salary-cap restrictions for a possible Adams trade, is why the Cowboys want to get an extension done.

The most likely outcome is Prescott and the Cowboys coming to a deal by July 15. The Cowboys generally get deals done, and it provides long-term security for Prescott. But Prescott signing the franchise tag on Monday was just part of that process.

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