FROM HOME, Texas – As if at some point, Dak wasn't going to sign his franchise tag.
Short of coming to terms on a long-term deal, Dak Prescott at some point definitely was going to sign the exclusive franchise tag tender the Cowboys issued him to reserve his rights during the 2020 free-agency season.
No red-blooded American is going to risk a guaranteed $31.409 million. Not when it's taken four years, as a fourth-round draft choice, to make just less than $5 million so far during his Cowboys career.
Again, this was an eventuality.
But now the hard part: The Cowboys and Dak's reps now have 21 days to come to an agreement on a long-term deal that they couldn't over at least a year's time. Don't get one signed by 3 p.m., July 15, and the two sides can't return to the negotiating table until next offseason, and this all assuming the 2020 NFL season will indeed be played.
What if it isn't?
Now, here is the difference between playing on the tag this year and signing a long-term deal by July 15. While the tag's $31.409 million is guaranteed, he does not receive a dime until after the Sept. 13 season opener, again if indeed the season opens as scheduled. At that point, he will receive $1.847 million weekly for 17 weeks. But he isn't guaranteed a dime after that.
But on a long-term deal, and for argument sake, say, a five-year deal worth, oh, $180 million, with like a $100 million of guarantees if we look at the structures of the extensions Carson Wentz and Jared Goff signed last year, that includes maybe a $50 million signing bonus, well, the Cowboys cut Dak a check for the $50 million the day he signs. Plus, my guess is at least the first three years of base salary are guaranteed, too, no matter what, plus some roster bonuses.
Therein lies the difference.
That's a huge bet on yourself and getting this coronavirus under control.
We've been told a big hang-up on a long-term deal is length of contract, the Cowboys wanting a five-year deal and Dak's folks wanting a four-year deal, the length of extensions Wentz and Goff signed. But here is the rub. Those two guys from Dak's 2016 draft class were in the final year of their rookie deals. So, while Goff signed that four-year extension, the extension averaging $33.5 million a year, his $1 million base salary for 2019 was still on the books. So in essence, over those next five years, his package of $134 million over four actually became $135 million over five, meaning his average income now fell to $27 million.
But the Rams were able to prorate his $25 million signing bonus over five years, or $5 million a year against the cap. If Dak were to sign a four-year deal, his signing bonus would only prorate over four years, increasing the average cap hit.
Oh, and I'll say this again. What if the season gets shortened to like 12 games? Can't imagine full salaries will be paid for games missed. Does Dak come up short on $7.5 million then? Guys during the 1987 strike season sure didn't get paid for missing those four weeks.
But, as I said, they've got 21 more days to possibly figure this out. All meaning more shots to come on this ongoing saga.
- Deadline Deals: The Cowboys have issued the franchise tag eight times: Prescott (2020), DeMarcus Lawrence (2018-19), Dez Bryant (2015), Anthony Spencer (2012-13), Ken Hamlin (2008) and Flozell Adams (2002). Of those guys – so far, since they still have those 21 days – two of the three signing long-term deals eventually (Dez and Hamlin) ended up doing so on July 15. Deadlines have a way of making deals.
- Another Thing: Dak is one of 14 players issued a franchise tag in 2020. With Dak signing his tender on Monday, nine of the 14 have signed their tenders, meaning five guys still are unsigned – Tampa Bay's Shaquill Barrett, Cincinnati's A.J. Green, Kansas City's Chris Jones, Jacksonville's Yannick Ngakoue and Denver's Justin Simmons. Oh, and get this: With 21 days to go, nobody has signed a long-term deal. Something in the air this offseason of uncertainty?
- High Flying: There seems to be this anticipation of the Cowboys offense becoming prolific this season. Start with the fact that the team in 2019 finished with the NFL's No. 1 offense, setting the franchise record by averaging 431.5 yards a game. They also were No. 2 in passing offense, setting the franchise record with 296.9 a game. They also averaged 27.1 points per game, short of the franchise record of 29.9 set in 1983. Now consider this: Dak plays with another year of experience, and 25 games under his belt with Amari Cooper. Another year of experience for Michael Gallup and Tony Pollard and Blake Jarwin. Zeke should not be late to training camp, or uh, miss all of it. And … and … the Cowboys add wide receiver CeeDee Lamb to the mix. Then there is this: The teams the Cowboys will play in 2020 gave up an average of 23.8 points a game, statistically a 2020 opponent league high I read. Brother, just get this team the ball.
- Buck Shots: Can't believe I actually went to something called a Twitch chat with Scooter Magruder, Zeke admitting he did test positive for COVID-19, yet saying on Wednesday, "But now I would say I feel good, I feel normal," though likely giving himself another week before returning to workouts … While we continue to talk about the additions to the Cowboys offense for this season, yet every time Travis Frederick's name comes up, voted by the Pro Football Writer's Association as the George Halas Award winner for the player overcoming the most adversity to succeed, we are reminded they will be missing a Pro Bowl center, selected a fifth time this past season after overcoming the Guillain-Barre Syndrome that caused him to miss the 2018 season … But beware fourth-round draft choice Tyler Biadasz, another product of Wisconsin, winner of the Rimington Trophy, voted the most outstanding collegiate center last year and a first-team All-American. Oh, and a team captain for the Badgers.
And speaking of Dak signing his franchise tag, reports say there are still more than 180 unsigned draft choices with the start of training camp just about a month away. Since only three teams have signed all their draft choices – Buffalo, Indianapolis, New England – that means the other 29 teams on average still have at least six rookies to sign. The Cowboys have all seven to sign, but with the slotting system in place, that shouldn't be a problem once guys are allowed to report to The Star for their physicals. Plus, once they placed Frederick on reserve/retired after June 1, they recouped his $7 million 2020 base salary, nearly enough to fund their rookie cap of $7.3 million.