Making sense of the latest Dak Prescott reports

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

On Monday, the Dak Prescott negotiations eclipsed the Ezekiel Elliott talks, even though Prescott is in camp and Elliott isn’t.

Prescott’s negotiations took center stage because, whereas there are no numbers published regarding Elliott’s negotiations, NFL Media (wholly owned by the NFL and thus partially owned by the Cowboys) reported that Prescott has rejected $30 million per year and wants $40 million per year.

The last half of that report was, frankly, #fakenews. PFT and others (including ESPN’s Chris Mortensen) reported that Prescott has never asked for $40 million per year.

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So why did that get reported? Assuming the Cowboys leaked the figure to the media company it partially owns, it looks like the Cowboys may be trying to make Prescott look greedy and unreasonable, a risky move that could diminish Prescott in the eyes of the fans of America’s Team. It also could strengthen Prescott’s resolve to get what he wants, and it necessary to go year-to-year under the franchise tag, eventually securing his freedom to go wherever he chooses.

If true, it’s stunning that the Cowboys would feel compelled to take such an aggressive approach, but perhaps the Cowboys are getting exasperated by their failure to finalize a new contract with any of three key offensive players who are resisting the notion that simply being a Cowboy carries inherent value that should make them willing to accept whatever the Cowboys are offering.

The report that Prescott has declined $30 million per year sheds light on the actual quality of the offer that the team has made. Although this number necessarily omits key factors like guarantee and structure, it undoubtedly refers to a new-money figure. If the rejected offer averages $30 million per year in new-money average on a four-year extension, this translates (given Prescott’s $2 million salary in 2019) to a total value at signing of $24.4 million per year, over five years.

Last year, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract. If Prescott is worthy of that deal (and, given his accomplishments relative to Garoppolo’s, Prescott is), giving him that deal right now would translate to a new money average of $33.8 million per year.

Coincidentally, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram previously pegged Prescott’s demands in the $34 million range. There’s no way the number became inflated in two months by $6 million per year, and there’s every reason to regard Monday’s report as evidence that the Cowboys may be feeling like they’re on the ropes in these negotiations.

If that’s the case, the message to the players who are trying to maximize the compensation for their skills, abilities, and sacrifices is clear: Keep punching.

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