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Mailbag: Making Sense Of The Coming Season


How would cancelation of the NFL season affect player contracts? — FRED KING / FRANKLIN, TN

Rob: I have yet to see or hear a clear answer on that, because the league has remained firm for months that they're planning on a full season. (Just to clarify, players' base salaries are normally paid out through weekly game checks during the season.) But finances is definitely one item the league and the NFLPA are trying to settle before training camp. Reports say the league has proposed that 35% of player salaries be held in escrow to offset potential revenue losses this season (from possibly limited or no fan attendance, etc.) League revenue affects where the salary cap is set each year, so obviously this is a major item — not just for this season but future years ahead.

David: Obviously, the No. 1 priority for the NFL should be the health and safety of everyone associated with starting the season on time. But outside of the obvious safety concerns, I think you just touched on the biggest issue facing the NFL this summer. As Rob mentioned, there's clearly some discussion to be had between the owners and players about payment. It's been a long time since the league has faced an issue like this, and I'm not sure what the right answer should be. Hopefully the NFL can come to a tidier solution than what we've watched played out with other leagues during the last few months.

People are talking about how much money Dak will make with the tag this year and the next tag and the next. But if the team wins four games this year, I don't think there will be another tag or contract. What do you think? — MICHAEL GRISSOM / RALEIGH, NC

Rob: Michael, please don't make me dive down the hypothetical rabbit hole with you. Just kidding. If the Cowboys only win four of 16 games, something went really wrong beyond quarterback. Besides, what exactly is the long-term alternative to Prescott if you prefer they don't extend him? Draft another quarterback and start a rebuild for a minimum of one to two years? The Cowboys believe they are close to contention, or they wouldn't have hired a veteran coach like Mike McCarthy — who wants to coach Dak, by the way. He's one of the better young quarterbacks in the league by most any measure, and that includes wins (two playoff appearances in four years, and probably three if Zeke had played a full season in 2017).

David: Maybe I'll wind up eating these words. But I honestly don't see how the Cowboys win so few games unless Dak Prescott suffers a catastrophic injury. Go look through recent Cowboys history. The only years they won fewer than eight games came when they either A) didn't have a good starting quarterback or B) when they were dealing with catastrophic injuries. And keep in mind, Andy Dalton is the best backup quarterback this team has had in a decade – so they're even better prepared to handle a quarterback injury than usual. I can't guarantee in July that the Cowboys will make the playoffs, but I really don't think they'll be as bad as you're suggesting unless something terrible happens.

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