Emmitt Smith explains why Dak Prescott should give the Cowboys a sizable discount in contract negotiations


At some point, this offseason, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is going to get a new contract and there’s a very real chance that the new deal — as long as it’s not the franchise tag — could end up paying him $35 million per year or more. Basically, Prescott holds almost all of the leverage in negotiations and he’s made it pretty clear that he’s not planning on giving the Cowboys any sort of hometown discount. 

Although Prescott could conceivably try to break the bank with his new deal, at least one former Cowboys player doesn’t think he should go that route. Since the Cowboys have so many players to re-sign this offseason — like Amari Cooper and Byron Jones — Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith thinks that Prescott should at least consider giving the team a discount so that there’s enough money to go around. 

According to Smith, the discount makes sense, because Prescott would more than be able to make up for the lost income in endorsement deals since he’d be the quarterback for the most famous NFL franchise on the planet. 

“Dak has to understand and maybe take another perspective,” Smith told The Adam Lefkoe Show this week. “The perspective may not be all the money you get, but how much of the money you’re willing to leave on the table, because the Cowboys are a marketable organization. If you’re the face of the franchise, instead of taking $35 [million], would you take $28 [million], and leave some for Amari and pick up the [lost money] through endorsements.”

That’s some interesting advice, especially coming from Smith, who once held out of multiple regular season games in order to the contract he wanted. Back in 1993, Smith was in a stalemate with the Cowboys during contract negotiations, so he decided to sit out the first two weeks of the season. After the Cowboys started 0-2, Jerry Jones cracked and gave in to Smith’s demands. The holdout ended with made Smith getting a four-year deal worth $13.6 million, which made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL at the time. 

If Prescott’s choice is giving the Cowboys a hometown discount or pulling a Smith and holding out for the highest possible contract, he’ll almost certainly be going through door No. 2. As a matter of fact, last July, Prescott basically ruled out a hometown discount with his main point being that NFL revenues keep going up, which means the salary cap keeps going up, which means the Cowboys can afford to pay him the market price.  

“For somebody to say you can only take so much because of the salary cap or you can only do this or that, I don’t know how fair that is to say,” Prescott said. “Because with gambling, with everything going into this league, everything is going to continue to keep going up.”

With that mindset, it’s easy to see why the Cowboys and Prescott are still at an impasse. Prescott has already reportedly turned down an offer that would have paid him $33 million per year, which would have left him behind Jared Goff in average annual salary, so there was no reason for him to take the deal. 

At this point, the smartest thing Prescott can do is wait for Patrick Mahomes’ new deal to get ironed out. If Mahomes ends up resetting the QB market with a deal that pays out at least $40 million per year, then Prescott will be able to make the case that he deserves $35 million to $37 million per year, and if the Cowboys aren’t willing to pay that, then someone else will. 

The Cowboys do have a little bit of leverage with the franchise tag, which would conceivably allow them to keep Prescott for roughly $70 million over the next two years, but they should avoid that route at all costs. If they’re willing to go that route, which would basically pay Prescott and average annual salary of $35 million per year, then they should just give him a long-term deal to keep him happy. Two years of the tag would mean they weren’t willing to show any commitment to Prescott, who likely wouldn’t show any commitment to them when he finally became a free agent in 2022 (The Cowboys could tag him in 2022, but it would cost $54.4 million for one year, since it would be his third franchise tag, and this assumes they use the exclusive tag, which is used in most situations involving a quarterback). 

Also, if the Cowboys do tag Prescott, there’s a very real chance he wouldn’t show up for offseason workouts, which would be a major setback for Mike McCarthy, who’s going into his first year for as the team’s coach. 





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