On March 8, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys agreed to a four-year, $160 million extension with $126 million in guarantees. The extension expires when Prescott is 31 years old, giving the two-time Pro Bowler a guaranteed opportunity to sign another deal during his prime. After two years of dramatic, back-and-forth negotiations, Prescott and the Cowboys feel secure about their immediate futures.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added further clarity to the deal, reporting that it includes a no-trade clause and a no tag provision. Those arrangements make it so Dallas can’t decide to trade Prescott in the future unless he agrees to the move or tag him in 2025. They also ensure that Prescott has every ounce of leverage possible if he and Dallas butt heads again at the end of his next extension. Prescott gets a $66 million signing bonus and makes $75 million in the first year of his new deal.
Dallas’ quarterback situation entering this offseason captured headlines, and Prescott was one of many prominent quarterback dominos the NFL world has its eyes on. His signing has a wide-reaching impact. Dallas was one of four preferred trade destinations Russell Wilson’s agent mentioned if the superstar left Seattle. Another star quarterback in Texas, Deshaun Watson, is also causing a stir, and a popular fan theory had the two young quarterbacks switching teams.
Prescott’s new deal firmly places him among the highest-paid players in NFL history. His $66 million signing bonus breaks Wilson’s previous record of $65 million, and the Mississippi St. product should average $40 million per year on his new deal. That only trails Patrick Mahomes’ mega-deal, which averages $45 million per year. Watson and Wilson average the third and fourth-most money annually among quarterbacks.
The extension won’t come without criticism. While Prescott’s play validates him as a top-ten quarterback, he lags behind the perennial MVP candidates. According to PFF, Prescott’s 86.6 career grade ranks 14th among quarterbacks. His 85.2 grade in 2020 was the highest of his career but still only ranked ninth at his position.
The Cowboys needed to get an extension done with Prescott this offseason. Franchise tagging him would’ve cost $37.69 million in 2021 and $54.27 million in 2022, making it impossible to tag Prescott for the third year in a row. He would’ve walked into unrestricted free agency, but the massive extension helps Dallas avoid disaster. The signing also brings Prescott’s 2021 cap number from $37.69 million down to $22.2 million, creating over $15 million in cap space.
Prescott was on pace to set multiple career-highs this past season before suffering a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in Week 5, but he’s expected to make a full recovery. Dallas and new head coach Mike McCarthy finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs in a historically weak NFC East.
While the Cowboys have plenty of needs, owner Jerry Jones recognized that securing a proven franchise quarterback was his team’s top priority. Dallas accomplished that by signing Prescott for the next four seasons. He, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, and Zack Martin are all signed on the offense through at least the 2024 season.
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