Where does Jared Goff’s $212M extension leave Dak Prescott and Cowboys?

May 14, 2024

Divorce is an option if sides can’t reach historic deal for Prescott

Where does Jared Goff's $212M extension leave Dak Prescott and Cowboys? -  Yahoo Sports

The debate about the Dallas Cowboys’ understanding of what an “all-in” push entails should have come to an end Monday. That’s largely thanks to endless instruction from Detroit Lions ownership, which capped a series of staff and player extensions over the past two months with a four-year, $212 million deal for quarterback Jared Goff.

More than anything else that has happened this offseason, that Goff extension — with $170 million expected in guarantees — puts the Cowboys at a crossroads with Dak Prescott. On one path, Dallas makes Prescott the highest paid player in NFL history at the time of his signing. On the other path, the Cowboys decline that commitment, letting Prescott enter free agency next offseason, at which point another franchise will make him the highest paid player in NFL history.

The only detour between those two avenues would be if Prescott gives Dallas a discount, signing a lesser deal than one he would draw on the open market 10 months from now. That’s the unanimous opinion of multiple sources with experience in these scenarios, including team executives and prominent NFL agents who have negotiated top quarterback deals. All of whom have watched Dallas linger a step behind the market on the extensions for Prescott and wideout CeeDee Lamb.

“They’re in the same spot Detroit was with Goff, [wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown] and [offensive tackle Penei] Sewell,” one prominent agent said Monday night. “Detroit did the work and got it moving and Dallas is just watching the prices go up. … They’re an entire year late on a couple deals.”

Added a second prominent agent of the Cowboys’ growing dilemma, “When in doubt, blame Jerry.”

That Jerry would be Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who initially promised an “all-in” push this offseason, then fell back into what has effectively been a wait-and-see mode on contracts. The result has been months of roster gridlock for the franchise, aside from a smattering of cheap veteran signings after the free-agent market lost steam. That has left a segment of the fan base frustrated, particularly as the window for a Prescott deal has continued to dwindle without the saving grace of other key extensions between Lamb and edge rusher Micah Parsons.

All of this has lent to a sizable air of uncertainty surrounding the franchise, which lost defensive coordinator Dan Quinn this offseason and allowed head coach Mike McCarthy to enter the final year of his contract. Realistically, the Cowboys could be engaging in a rebuild of sorts next offseason, particularly if Dallas loses Prescott and declines to retain McCarthy, which would lead to a search for another franchise quarterback and an entire retooling of the coaching staff under a new head coach.

That’s effectively the opposite of what Detroit has accomplished this offseason, managing to retain coveted offensive coordinator Ben Johnson another season, signing general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell to contract extensions, and inking new deals with three cornerstone players in Goff, St. Brown and Sewell. Not to mention getting ahead of four other quarterback extensions that have yet to be completed: Prescott, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence, the Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa and the Green Bay Packers’ Jordan Love.

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 14: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys warms up prior to an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium on January 14, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Dak Prescott is entering the final season of his contract with the Cowboys. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Following Goff’s deal, Prescott and Lawrence will be expected to reset the market as the league’s highest paid quarterbacks, while both Love and Tagovailoa are expected to exceed $50-million in average annual salary.

So what happens now with Prescott?

As of last week, two sources with knowledge of negotiations told Yahoo Sports there was no progress to speak of on an extension. The time frame to get a deal done, according to both sources, will likely extend into the Cowboys’ training camp stint in Oxnard, California. If a deal isn’t completed prior to departing Oxnard and heading back to Dallas, it’s expected that Prescott will play out the remainder of his deal and test free agency.

Three potential suitors to keep in mind: the Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders and New York Giants.

The Steelers don’t have a starting quarterback locked in beyond 2024 and are currently projected to be nearly $175 million under the 2025 salary cap. The Raiders can create ample cap space with the release of wideout Davante Adams next offseason along with the restructuring of a few other deals. And the Giants will reach easy exit points from the deals for quarterback Daniel Jones and tight end Darren Waller — who could retire or get cut this offseason — creating plenty of cap space to pursue a free-agent quarterback.

Of course, those horizons come into play only if Dallas can’t get a Prescott extension done in the coming months. But the writing is on the wall foreshadowing a split, and it’s coming in the form of every other quarterback contract signed this offseason, starting with Monday’s deal for Goff.