How the Cowboys Consistently Screwed Up Dak Prescott Contract Negotiations

What if I told you that as price tags for NFL quarterbacks continue to rise, the Cowboys have not just screwed themselves in the future by waiting to sign Dak Prescott to a longer term deal, but they’ve also been screwing themselves this entire process?

The Cowboys’ inability to successfully negotiate more than a single contract with Prescott in nearly a decade has crippled the franchise financially in a way that hasn’t been discussed nearly enough.

Dallas was extremely lucky to snag Prescott in the fourth round thanks to his incredibly cheap rookie deal contract.

Prescott’s cap hits during his rookie deal:

  • $546k in 2016
  • $636k in 2017
  • $726k in 2018
  • $2.1M in 2019

Those cap hits ranked between QB #78 and QB #45 in the league, meaning at least 44 QBs each year took up more of the cap than Dak.

Despite all that free cap space, Jerry Jones was unable to build the Cowboys into a team that could win playoff games.

They won just one playoff game in those four seasons: a two-point win in which the Cowboys needed to come from behind with 14 points in the fourth quarter.

Then came the bigger problems.

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The Cowboys were unable to negotiate a contract extension for Prescott before his rookie deal expired.

The Cowboys were unable to negotiate a contract extension for Prescott after his rookie deal expired.

So they franchise tagged him.

After that expired, they negotiated one contract for Prescott. And they haven’t negotiated another contract since, with Prescott’s deal set to expire at the end of the 2024 season.

What are the ramifications of the Cowboys’ inaction?

Here’s what matters massively but hasn’t been discussed:

Because of their delay in signing him initially and extending him, Prescott has cost the team $150,626,647 against the cap in the last five years.

Cost against the cap is massive because it hurts the team. They can’t add talent when one player takes up a huge cap hit.

Where does $151 million rank in cap dollars?

It’s the #1 most of any player in the NFL who wasn’t cut by their team this season and is therefore eating some of the cap space in dead money.

Russell Wilson is the only player with a higher cumulative cap hit over the last five years, but Denver cut him and accelerated his cap hits to this season.

Other than Russ, Prescott stands alone.

And no other QB is close.

His $151 million is $28 million more than Patrick Mahomes, who has hit the cap for $123 million.

It’s also between $67 million and $77 million more than QBs such as Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow.

These QBs have all made deep playoff runs during those years.

Prescott not only hasn’t, but he is eating up more cap space than all of them.

What about more veteran QBs?

It’s $47 million more than Aaron Rodgers, $26 million more than Matthew Stafford, and $22 million more than Kirk Cousins.

The fact the Cowboys have sat on their hands for most years since Dak’s rookie contract and have not successfully negotiated an extension has massively hurt this franchise.

Being able to reduce Prescott’s cap hits by signing a longer-term deal would have helped Dallas.

Prescott, himself, needs to step up as well, particularly in the playoffs.

Out of 13 qualifying playoff QBs (min 100 att) since signing his 2020 franchise tag, Prescott ranks:

  • #11 in YPA (6.8)
  • #10 in EPA/att (0.0)
  • #11 in TD:INT ratio
  • #12 in explosive pass rate
  • #10 in third down conversion rate
  • #12 in accuracy

These, out of 13 qualifying QBs, are not good numbers.

But the fact the Cowboys have allowed Dak to count $151 million against the cap the last five years, most of any non-cut player in the NFL, is a stain on the franchise and their ability to build an actual contender.

In the last 29 years, since 1995, Dallas has zero trips to the NFC Championship Game…let alone a trip to the Super Bowl…let alone a Super Bowl win.

And their current strategy towards managing their roster and cap isn’t helping.