The biggest news around the NFL yesterday concerned a new contract for a quarterback. Last week, it was about a quarterback taking less money. This time, it was for arguably the best contract a quarterback has ever signed, when you evaluate all the factors, such as length and year-over-year cashflow.
That new deal was for Dak Prescott, which keeps him with the Dallas Cowboys at the handsome sum of $40 million per season on a new four-year, $160 million contract that includes no-tag and no-trade clauses and puts him back on the market in 2025 at the age of 31.
The two-time Pro Bowler was on a statistical tear before suffering a severe ankle injury in the fifth game. By then, he had already thrown for over 1856 yards with nine touchdowns to four interceptions, and was on pace to set a new NFL passing record—though of course, those were very early numbers.
A former fourth-round pick in 2016, Prescott has since posted a 42-27 record, completing 66 percent of his passes a 7.7 yards per attempt, tossing 1514 completions for 17,634 yards with 106 touchdowns to 40 interceptions. He played the 2020 season under the franchise tag.
Another franchise tag in 2021 would have been prohibitively expensive, and neither party wanted to go down that route again. His cap hit for this year is now below $25 million, favorable for the team. But why am I writing about this? The Pittsburgh Steelers just played the Cowboys last year, so they aren’t due to face one another for a while yet.
According to Adam Schefter, some believe that the big deal, arguably the first major deal of the offseason, indicates more than what is on the surface. “One league source on the Dak Prescott deal: ‘you know what this is? This is Jerry Jones tipping off the extraordinary TV deal that is coming’”, he wrote on Twitter.
One league source on the Dak Prescott deal: “You know what this is? This is Jerry Jones tipping off the extraordinary TV deal that is coming.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2021
The salary cap remains in flux, and may not be known until shortly before the start of the new league year, which would require the NFL to make adjustments, for example, to the franchise tag window. What we know is that the cap floor was raised to $180 million, but subsequent reports indicate the number is not expected to reach $185 million, placing in in the range of coming in at a drop off of roughly $15 million from last season.
Some such as Mike Florio have written that new television contracts, some of which are reaching the final stages and which the league hopes to have done before the start of the new league year, will not meaningfully impact the salary cap.
This remark doesn’t necessarily change that. After all, a decade-long television deal will have a long-term effect, so more likely, this references a belief in a steady future rise in the cap. But Steelers fans can still continue to hope that something, anything, will knock the 2021 cap number up another few million.