FRISCO, Texas — Negotiations between the Dallas Cowboys and agent Dak Prescott should start heating up soon, and if they don’t, we’ve all spent a lot of time and energy discussing the quarterback’s short- and long-term future.

Everyone should know by now that the main point of contention between the parties is the length of the contract. The Cowboys want a commitment of at least five years to ease their payroll burden. Todd France, the agent representing Prescott, wants a four-year contract so his client can get back on the market when the new TV money finally blows up the NFL economy.

Because we are friendly and always solution oriented, here is the compromise: a contract for six years.

How is that a compromise, you ask? If Jason Witten, the Cowboys’ ex-correspondent, always thought the secret was in the dust when he stole the replica Ben Hogan, the secret is in the details.

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The proposed compromise would be a six-year agreement with four years removed.

Both sides can then claim victory. The Cowboys could benefit from salary flexibility in the first two seasons of the deal, with teams paying the price due to the coronavirus pandemic (the NFL’s salary cap is expected to drop to about $180 million next year), and Prescott could be back on the market by 2025.

The ideal solution? Probably not, but in the situation that arose in the third post-season, a compromise must be found.

This is how it’s going to work:

We know the Cowboys offered Prescott a $50 million signing bonus last year. Leaving that unchanged, it would be $10 million above the cap from 2021 to 2025 because bonuses can only be offset for five years.

Let’s move on to base salaries:

2021: $20 million (full guarantee). (full guarantee)

2022: $20 million (full guarantee). (full guarantee)

2023: $32.5 million ($25 million fully guaranteed). ($25 million fully guaranteed)

2024: $32.5 million

2025: $32.5 million

2026: $32.5 million

That’s six years, $220 million, or an average of $36.7 million a year. In fact, this is a four-year contract worth $155 million, for an average of $38.75 million, of which $115 million is fully guaranteed upon signing. He will earn $90 million in the first two years of the contract.

The numbers of this deal will be:

2021: $30 million

2022: $30 million

2023: $42.5 million

2024: $42.5 million

2025: $42.5 million

2026: $32.5 million

How do the Cowboys get the flexibility to adjust the cap in the second year of the deal? With the tools they used for all their great signatures. They could convert more than $18 million of Prescott’s base salary for 2022 into a signing bonus for the investment, creating $14.4 million in a second-year deal. Based on a proposed base salary of $2 million. An additional $3.6 million in 2022 would add $3.6 million to each of the above caps between 2023 and 2026.

2022: $15.6 million.

2023: $46.1 million.

2024: $46.1 million.

2025: $46.1 million.

2026: $36.1 million.



Mike Tannenbaum raises the possibility that the Cowboys will fire Dak Prescott and then trade him for Deshaun Watson.

If the contract is cancelled after the 2024 season, the Cowboys will have to pay $17.2 million for the 2025 cap for a player who may no longer be on their roster or avoid a potential overtime extension they would like.

The Los Angeles Rams are getting $22.2 million in dead money to trade quarterback Jared Goff. The Philadelphia Eagles could be hit with $33 million by the Carson Wentz trade deadline. The $17.2 million would be a pittance if the league went up by that amount.

Teams generally prefer to stay away from invalid deals because the money goes to the ceiling in the future. Well, if the Cowboys really want Prescott to be their quarterback of the future, they’ve caved: We don’t do small land deals. The Cowboys also added years of void by restructuring the contracts of offensive lineman Tyrone Smith, guard Zach Martin and defenseman DeMarcus Lawrence last year to improve the personnel situation. And they can counter future arguments about invalid years by saying they only do it for quarterbacks.

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If the Cowboys don’t want to get creative, they should consider not tagging Prescott in 2021 and starting the quarterback process all over again. If Prescott plays the day in 2021, he’ll win $69 million over two seasons. And it’s almost certain he’ll become a free agent in 2022, with the value of the third tag exceeding $52 million.

Why would the 27-year-old Prescott consider such a six-year contract? Last season, he played for a franchise that guaranteed him $31.4 million and suffered a terrible ankle injury. You could say his price went up because the Cowboys (6-10) were so bad without him in 2020, but is it worth the risk to play another year for Dallas?

The kind of deal Patrick Mahomes struck with Kansas City ($450 million over 10 years) is not an option. Mr. Prescott wouldn’t accept a five-year contract, so why wouldn’t he accept a longer one? Prescott would never have reached the free market in his prime.

With such a six-year settlement, Mr. Prescott would pocket $115 million just by putting his name on a contract. And he’ll be back on the market by the time he’s 31.

If the contract is voided, Prescott will be the Cowboys’ quarterback for nine years. From the team’s perspective, it’s more than enough to see if the quarterback can deliver a Super Bowl.

The only quarterback in recent years to lead a team to the Super Bowl for the first time since his eighth year as a starter was Matt Ryan, who was in his ninth season as a quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons in 2016.

If Prescott leads the Cowboys to the Super Bowl the next three seasons, the Cowboys would like to work out a revised contract.

And it won’t take as long as this deal…. At least he shouldn’t.

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