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Offseason | 2024

Mick Shots: Contract Fine Print, & Say Hey Willie


FRISCO, Texas – Timeout on this Juneteenth Holiday.

We badly need some clarification on how Trevor Lawrence's new contract affects the NFL quarterback market, and more specifically Dak Prescott, currently on the final year of his contract if the Cowboys are to extend him this year or wind up trying to re-sign the ninth-year quarterback in 2025.

Jacksonville seems to have created a firestorm out there by extending their fourth-year quarterback with a reportedly five-year, $275 million deal, $200 million guaranteed that includes a $37.5 million signing bonus. The package averages $55 million a year, but also includes two voidable years to help prorate a ton of option bonuses.

That $55 million average on the surface ties him with Cincinnati's Joe Burrow for tops in the quarterback market, just ahead of the $53 million average Detroit signed Jared Goff to in 2024 that includes a record $73 million signing bonus.

So automatically between social media, talk radio and wire service contributions, that means the market value has been set for Dak at the $55 million level, and if not higher.

Well, time to point out some of Lawrence's fine print for clarity's sake that might calm down all the hysterics claiming there is no way the Cowboys can sign Dak to that much, along with needing to sign CeeDee Lamb to one of the highest wide receiver contracts and then Micah Parsons potentially next year to the highest defensive player contract.

First, remember Lawrence still had two years left on his original Jacksonville deal, the fourth year along with the 2025 fifth-year option they already had picked up worth $25 million. That means the Jaguars have Lawrence under control for seven years.

Now then, if looking at cash value over the next five years, according to contract website spotrac, Lawrence can earn $202 million in guarantees assuming the Jaguars pick up all those option bonuses. My math tells me that averages out to a skosh more than $40 million a year. And here is the rub:

The final two years of his deal, 2029 and 2030, are stuffed with base salaries of $50 million and $53 million – NOT guaranteed, nor the option bonuses. Which means the Jaguars could opt out of the deal in 2029 for the $202 million and NO dead money going forward.

But what a great way to artificially structure the contract so the client can boast having the highest average salary in the NFL for a quarterback. In the NFL overall, when it comes to guaranteed money, Lawrence ranks fourth behind Deshaun Watson ($230 million), Burrow ($219 million) and Justin Herbert ($218.73 million), with Lamar Jackson after him at $185 million. And none of this is something to sneeze at for sure.

If you remember, back in 2021, Dak's $126 million guaranteed ranked third. His average of $40 million was third. Now Daks ranks 12th in both categories, but void of those none-guaranteed dummy base salary years that bloat averages. What a difference, though, four years make.

Just trying to take a shot here at some common sense.

  • Say Hey: Back on July 3, 1966, was the first and only time I got to watch Willie Mays play in person. What a treat. Was in San Francisco on a family vacation and attended the Giants-Braves game at Candlestick Park. Not only got to see Mays, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 93, but also teammate Willie McCovey and also Braves stars Hank Aaron, Rico Carty and Joe Torre. And the reason I remember that game so well, Braves pitcher Tony Cloninger not only hit two grand slam home runs in his three at bats, but also coming up again with the bases loaded and hitting a sacrifice fly caught on the warning track to set a record of nine RBIs for a pitcher that stood until 2005. He also was the first National League player to hit two grand slams in one game. My dad, always carrying his 8mm film camera everywhere we had gone on vacations, got a shot of Mays and McCovey jogging together off the field. Still have that film today. Braves ended up winning the game 17-3, Cloninger pitching a complete game. Still have the program scorecard from that day but gave up keeping score after like four innings since it was a blowout. Also have a Mays baseball card, but dang it, since the front of the card is in mint condition, I pasted the card in my trading cards scrape book. Not worth the chewing gum that came in the package of cards that probably back then cost no more than a quarter. Hey, who knew, was just a kid back then. We put card doubles in the back wheel spokes of our bicycles to sound cool.
  • Cliff Notes: Cowboys former safety and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Cowboys famed Ring of Honor Cliff Harris scored big again with his annual fund-raising golf tournament that he has sponsored going on more than 20 years. After previously raising more than $5 million over the years for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, the charity event was renamed in 2024 as the Breakthrough Type1 Diabetes research. And this year the tournament raised $230,000 and counting. Now he should be known as "Captain Cash."
  • Stuffed Ballot: Former Cowboys players have been stuffed into the College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 2025, with voting continuing until July 1 for the more than 12,000 members of the National Football Foundation before the NFF Honor Court makes its final selections. Included on the ballot are Flozell Adams (Michigan State), Kevin Hardy (Illinois), Ryan Leaf (Washington State), Kellen Moore (Boise State), Terence Newman (Kansas State), Timmy Newsome (Winston-Salem), Ken Norton Jr. (UCLA), Darrin Smith (Miami), Dennis Thurman (USC) and Luis Zendejas (Arizona State). Other notables eligible this year among the 77 players on the ballot are Kenneth Davis (TCU), Aaron Donald (Pitt), Willie Gault (Tennessee), Garrison Hearst (Georgia), Craig Heyward (Pitt) and Marvin Harrison (Syracuse). Results will be announced in early 2025.
  • June Shots: With an eye on the United Football League, the Cowboys purposely kept three spots open on their 90 man roster, featuring just 87 players during this past minicamp, and used two spots to sign UFL linebacker Willie Harvey and corner Gareon Conley . . . Never missing a chance, see where Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is one of the quarterbacks throwing this week at the Tight End University camp at Vanderbilt, hosted by Chiefs Travis Kelce, Niners George Kittle and former NFL TE Greg Olsen, and Dak is joined there by Cowboys tight ends Jake Ferguson and Luke Schoonmaker . . . Was asked this question today about when was the last time the Cowboys were scheduled for two Monday Night Football games in the same season, as they are in 2024, playing host to the Houston Texans on Nov. 18 and then Dec. 9 Cincinnati at AT&T Stadium. Well, after extensive research (I opened the Cowboys media guide to page 384), this last happened in 2005, playing host to Washington and then at Philadelphia, losing a one-point game 14-13 in Game 2 against Washington and winning a one-point game 21-20 in Game 9 at Philly.

Now for this week's last word, let's go to the usually ever loquacious Micah Persons, when asked about CeeDee Lamb, angling for a contract extension since he currently is scheduled to play on his fifth-year option for $17.99 million.

"Oh, I mean CeeDee 'bout to hit the Brink Truck," Micah said. "He about to get his. I can't think of someone more deserving. You talk about hand in hand, I think CeeDee is the best receiver in the league. If ever you want to argue Top 3, but in my eyes, seeing his mindset, seeing how he comes every day, I think he deserves every penny, so I'm going to be super excited for whatever his contract lays out for, but it's going to be a nice contract for sure."

And asked what would you pay him, more-less? Micah didn't skip a beat, saying, "If I'm his agent, CeeDee is getting about 36 (million), but I'm not his agent, and numbers aside, I don't know obviously what goes on, what's the combative argument . . . I mean if (Justin) Jefferson set (market value at $35 million average), CeeDee should be right there with him."

Again, therein rests why this deal still hasn't gotten finalized yet as pointed out last week, since there is no sense for asking for the same deal, right. You always ask for more than what the last guy got.

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