The Cowboys have finally roped in quarterback Dak Prescott with an agreeable long-term contract. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday that Prescott and Dallas officials have come to terms on a four-year, $160 million deal.
Instead of paying Prescott as a franchise-tagged player for the second consecutive year, the Cowboys have locked him up through the 2024 season. After Prescott earned $31.4 million in guaranteed money playing on the tag in 2020 — and coming off an ankle injury that limited him to five games — he wanted a combination of short-term security and long-term flexibility. He ended up getting both in what also worked out to be a team-friendly deal.
Here’s a breakdown of Prescott’s contract, from the total value to average annual salary and what the structure means for his future in Dallas:
What is Dak Prescott’s average annual salary?
Prescott, who turns only 28 in July, will average $40 million a season over the next four years. Across all NFL positions, that puts him behind only Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who averages $45 million from the 10-year deal he signed last summer. Prescott now makes $1 million more per season than Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, expected to be traded this offseason.
Prescott, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, now also carries a higher average number than the first two picks of that draft: Jared Goff ($33.5 million), who went from the Rams to the Lions, and Carson Wentz ($32 million), who went from the Eagles to the Colts.
How much is Dak Prescott getting in guaranteed money?
Prescott is getting $126 million of his $160 million guaranteed. The contract has a maximum value of $164 million. Prescott is set to make that $126 million over the first three seasons, at the average of $42 million per season. Prescott will earn $75 million in total for his play in 2021.
In terms of total guarantees, Prescott is once again between Mahomes ($141.5 million) and Watson ($110.7 million). He’s also earning significantly more than draft classmates Goff ($110 million) and Wentz ($107.97 million).
How big is Dak Prescott’s signing bonus?
Prescott got $66 million of his contract in signing bonus. That’s the highest number for a contract in NFL history, surpassing the recent deals by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ($65 million) and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($57.5 million).
Can Dak Prescott be tagged again or traded with this deal?
No. Prescott secured a no-tag provision and no-trade clause as part of the contract. He now has the power to readjust his contract in relation to inflating quarterback market value. He’ll do so when he is still in his young prime ahead of his age 32 season.
What is Dak Prescott’s salary cap number for 2021?
Per Schefter, the initial cap hit the Cowboys will take on Prescott’s contract is a modest $22.2 million. The Cowboys, by franchise-tagging Prescott with the 120 percent increase from 2020, would have been cap-strapped in owing him another $37.7 million, all guaranteed toward the cap. They cleared an important $15.5 million for this year by committing $126 million over three years.
As the Cowboys were smart to work the numbers in their favor to avoid gutting their roster, Prescott showed how much he wants to help the Cowboys win beyond his play on the field. While the Cowboys can spread out the cap damage, Prescott secured himself as much up-front money as possible with a shorter deal. It’s a calculated but well compensated bet on himself without the year-to-year risk.
The Cowboys are positioned to get additional cap relief from Prescott ahead of his next deal, assuming it’s also with them. Prescott then can work himself to make sure he remains among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the game in only a few more years.
Jerry Jones pays his star players and there was no way Prescott would be allowed to walk after wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back Ezekiel Elliott got mega deals. The Cowboys can please such players too much and get into bad contracts (see linebacker Jaylon Smith), but because they took their time with Prescott — and because he was patient to get the exact parameters he wanted — both team and quarterback win. Now the only thing left is for Prescott to earn the value of the contract with more elite, healthy play.