FRISCO, Texas – The focus always stays forward when discussing the Cowboys. Even when major news hits like on Tuesday with the signing on DeMarcus Lawrence, it doesn't take long for the attention to shift onto the next contract.
So D-Law got paid in a major way, inking a deal worth $105 million that will pay him $21 million annually.
But it seems like only a matter of time before a new deal, perhaps an even bigger one, will trump what we saw already this week.
In this week's edition of SIX POINTS, the six writers of DallasCowboys.com have weighed on, offering their opinions on which player SHOULD be signed next. It's not so much on what will happen, but what should be the case if they were cutting the checks.
David Helman: From a purely financial standpoint, it'd help the Cowboys a lot in 2019 if they managed to extend Amari Cooper. Extending his one-year, $13.9 million salary would be a big help to their salary cap. Despite that, I think extending Dak Prescott should be their top priority for a variety of reasons. Firstly, he's the leader and the tone setter for the entire organization, and he is currently the most underpaid athlete in professional sports. More importantly than that, the sooner the Cowboys extend him, the sooner they can begin to offset the cost of the deal. The rising salary cap will continue to inflate NFL salaries, and quarterback pay days will only continue to go up. In addition to Dak, guys like Russell Wilson, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz will soon reset the market. The quicker you get Dak paid, the quicker his contract becomes a bargain on your rising salary cap – and the sooner you can be done with the guaranteed portion of his contract. The guy is averaging 30 total touchdowns and 11 wins per season. His cost is only going to go up. Extending him now will make everyone's life easier in the future, which is why it'd be smart to get it done quickly.
Bryan Broaddus: I have gone back and forth with whom the front office should extend next after the Demarcus Lawrence deal. Dak Prescott makes a lot of sense due to the fact that it's going to be the biggest contract on their books and having that in place with allow them to map out how they structure other deals going forward when it comes to building their team in the future. With that being said, I think the next deal they come up with is Amari Cooper. It appears that they have a clearer picture of where that market is as opposed to these quarterbacks. Look for the front to take the same approach they did with Lawrence and find a slot that makes the most sense for them. If they come up with the right number for Cooper then this deal has a chance to be done quickly.
Lindsay Draper: The in-house decision making heats up to new temperatures, now that DeMarcus Lawrence's deal is done. Stephen Jones laughed as he told the media that Lawrence told him 'everyone else's contracts are not my problem – that's for the Joneses to worry about.' Jones raised his eyebrows and said something to the tune of, Hey – he's kinda right. In three seasons, Dak Prescott has given the Cowboys two NFC East titles at a price of – uh, it's extremely cheap. At this point, it's no longer about where you or anyone stands on Prescott – it's about digging into solid ground and getting set for the next five to six years. Prescott is here to stay, so let's get the party started sooner, then later.
Nick Eatman: I think my answer of "should sign" is vastly different than the Cowboys' thoughts here. Doesn't sound like this team is close at all in their talks with Ezekiel Elliott, but he'd be the top priority for me. When I think about the team's MVP, I always go with Zeke. I also think he's one of the best overall players in the NFL. For me, I'm starting his clock as early as I can. He's 24 right now and I think you can still get maximum production for another 4-5 years, if not more. Yes, I know the career length for RBs, but the special ones, usually play longer. We all know that Zeke is special. I see two of the best QBs in the game are either over 40 or close to it. One of the best WRs out there is Antonio Brown, who is over 30. But you don't see the best RBs in the game at that age. That is why I would protect the superstar that I currently have and give him a deal that pays him well here in the next 3-4 years but averages out either at $15 million per season or higher. He's your best player, so I'd make sure and keep him around for a while.
Rob Phillips: I'll take a slightly different angle on this one. It's a good argument that Dak Prescott should be next in line given his production (two playoff appearances, two Pro Bowls) comparative to salary (well under a million per year the last three seasons). Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said at the combine that Prescott "deserves to have his contract looked at in a very progressive way."Beyond that, it's probably fair to say this will be the most extensive negotiation of all given the sheer amount of money that franchise quarterbacks generally command. Jones agreed with a reporter's statement Tuesday that DeMarcus Lawrence's title of 'highest-paid player in team history' probably will last only until Prescott's extension gets done. For that reason, I say make Prescott the priority. The faster both sides can make headway on this deal, the better, because it will probably take some time.
Mickey Spagnola: For me, the next guy to sign is whoever wants to play ball with me, meaning sign a cap-friendly deal far in advance of an expiring contract, be it Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones or Amari Cooper. But from a 2019 salary cap standpoint, getting Cooper done now will create more salary cap space for this year, meaning giving me more ammo to possibly extend another guy or two. Cooper's 2019 base salary is $13.97 million. By paying him a huge signing bonus that will be prorated over say a five-year deal, the Cowboys likely can reduce the wide receiver's 2019 cap charge in half, just at signing DeMarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal did, reducing his $20.5 franchise cap hit to $11.1 million, saving the Cowboys $9.4 million in cap space for 2019. Signing Dak or Zeke ahead of when's necessary will eat up cap space. Cooper makes