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Mailbag: How Will The Negotiation Change In 2021?

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This year, 12 franchise tagged players were not able to negotiate a long-term contract. How does that compare with other years, and do you think the uncertainty with the cap next year played into the decisions of the teams? —JAY VANDENBREE / DENTON, TX

Nick: I think the uncertainty of everything going on made it difficult to sign a player — unless maybe you've got a sure thing in Mahomes, who has already delivered an MVP and a Super Bowl. But for those not doing 10-year deals, yes it is most definitely a weird time for both sides. Now me personally, I think I would take the long-term deal offered if I was a player. Who knows what the cap will look like next year and so if there was a chance to lock up a long-term deal in the middle of a pandemic, I would've done that.

Jonny: That's more than in previous years by a pretty clear margin. I can only speculate on how the cap uncertainty affected these decisions. It's probably a case-by-case thing with each team. Pushing a decision on a commitment down the line could certainly be easier to navigate. But I tend to think that if you plan to sign a player to a long-term deal, then you should probably just do it sooner than later. A multi-year deal is all about the future, and having what you know you'll need is easier than trying to lock it down later.

Reports typically focused on Dak wanting a four-year deal so he could head into free agency while still in his prime. Now, with no new deal, we have him signed for 2020 on the franchise tag. The next time he and the Cowboys negotiate, will he now say he only wants a three-year deal so he can still hit free agency at the same age as he would have been had he signed a four-year deal this summer? —RANDY CHILDS / NORTH GRAFTON, MA

Nick: That's a really good question because last year he seemed OK with a five-year deal, just not the guarantees. So you might be right about that. I think he's certainly lining himself up for this next contract. My hope is that none of this spills over and any hard feelings have been developed over these negotiations that are not fixable. Right now, I think things would be workable but you just have to wonder if this is headed for even more headaches.

Jonny: I don't even think that Dak and his agent know the answer to that question right now. If the Cowboys are willing to offer above market value on a four-year deal then I'd feel pretty confident he'd be happy to sign it. Five years from Prescott could still command a very large and profitable deal, assuming he's healthy. But these are difficult decisions and coming off of a year on the franchise tag will only make it more of a chess match.

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