FRISCO, Texas – It sounds like it could be a fun month for the Cowboys on the contract front.
With Super Bowl LIV in the rear view mirror, the focus has officially shifted to the NFL's marathon offseason. The first obstacle on that road is the deadline to use the franchise tag – which no doubt concerns the Cowboys quite closely.
As has been well-documented by now, Dak Prescott is slated to hit free agency on March 18. If they intend to avoid that, the Cowboys can place the franchise tag on him as early as Feb. 25, with a March 10 deadline to tag him and prevent him from hitting the open market.
To hear it from chief operating officer Stephen Jones, the goal is to agree to a contract extension before any of that happens.
"Our goal is to avoid it," Jones told The Dallas Morning News on Friday. "We want to get a deal done. We're going to roll up our sleeves and when these things get momentum, they get done, but both sides got to be in a place where we think we're within shouting distance of getting something done."
This saga has been ongoing since last summer, as most thought the Cowboys and Prescott would come to an agreement before the 2019 season. When that didn't materialize, Prescott put together a 4,902-yard, 30-touchdown season – albeit one that saw the team finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
With free agency looming, the stakes are considerably higher this time around. Placing the franchise tag on Prescott would secure him to a one-year, fully guaranteed salary of roughly $27 million. It would also prevent him from talking to other teams.
On the flip side, Prescott made it clear during the lead-up to the Super Bowl that he would not be eager to spend time around the Cowboys' facility this offseason without a long-term deal.
"Report that," he said last week. "Be sure to report that."
That would certainly provide some leverage during the Cowboys' first offseason under Mike McCarthy. In the midst of a transition to a new coaching staff and a new offense, they'd assuredly like to have their franchise quarterback in the building.
Hence, the urgency.
"We want to get this done," Jones told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Things are fixing to heat up. We want to put every foot forward and try to grind this out and get a deal done."