Following Trevor Lawrence deal, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott could command $60 million per year

Nearly five years ago, the numbers swirling around a Dak Prescott contract extension seemed staggering. In the midst of uncomfortable negotiations between the Dallas Cowboys and their star quarterback, a very round and seemingly unbelievable number emerged in the summer of 2019:

$40 million. Per season.

The Cowboys had waited too long to get ahead of the contract market, painting themselves into a negotiating corner and watching Prescott bet on himself and a perpetually quarterback-starved league. And the predictable outcome was coming closer to fruition with each passing day: Dallas was going to pay a lot more than it or anyone else had imagined. By the spring of 2021, the salary target settled right into place via four-year, $160 million deal.

Now history appears to be repeating itself, with an even bigger number within reach for Prescott: $60 million per season.

A handful of agents and NFL executives with experience doing quarterback deals told Yahoo Sports they believe that's a number Prescott could now command in his next extension, following the five-year, $275 million deal signed by Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence this week. While the $55 million per season average comes in a tack-on deal that doesn't technically begin until 2026, the negotiating context is already set. The going rate for the top-shelf at the quarterback spot is $55 million per season. And the Jaguars ponied it up when they still had at least four years of control left, via the remaining two years of Lawrence's rookie deal and then two franchise tag years.

It's clear why this has such a dramatic impact on Prescott’s next deal, with enough juice to push into the $60 million range. Prescott has a no-tag clause as part of his existing deal. That means he’s a free agent after 2024 with no strings attached. That leverage, along with a very strong argument that he’s a more consistent and accomplished player than Lawrence, provides the necessary foundation for a $60 million annual salary plateau. And barring a dramatic collapse after a 2023 season that saw him finish second in MVP voting, he’ll likely achieve it if he wants it.

“If money is his priority, he’ll get there,” one prominent agent told Yahoo Sports. “Especially if it gets to free agency and there’s more than one team involved.”

The agent wasn’t alone in his opinion. Two NFL executives with experiencing negotiating league-pacing quarterback deals echoed the sentiment. One of the executives added the context that he believes the pursuit of Prescott would rival the two biggest free-agent quarterback pursuits in league history — when Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 and Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos in 2012.

“[Prescott] would have his pick of teams and could do the free agency [tour] where he’s interviewing the teams rather than vice versa,” the executive said. “That’s what will happen if he leaves Dallas and I’m sure he knows it.”

Interestingly, there’s still a chance the high bar for the quarterback spot still hasn’t been locked in for this offseason. The Green Bay Packers are continuing to work on a new deal for Jordan Love, while the Miami Dolphins are negotiating an extension for Tua Tagovailoa. While it’s not anticipated that either will exceed the $55 million annual salary of Lawrence and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, that possibility remains.

As of this week, the Cowboys and Prescott still have not engaged in talks on a new deal, leading to the very real possibility that he will play out the 2024 season and test free agency. That said, the critical juncture for the two sides is just now opening, with a negotiating window that could extend all the way to the first week of the regular season in September. Dallas also has pressing negotiations with wideout CeeDee Lamb, whose extension could approach $35 million per season. Asked about his motivation to get a deal done, Prescott said he was leaving it up to his representation to work out any deal.

“Business is business,” Prescott said as the Cowboys opened organized team activities in May. “I’ll leave it where it gets handled. … I know my business will take care of itself. Been in it before. Experienced, just controlling what I can right now.”

“I don’t play for money. Never have, never cared for it to be honest with you. Would give it up just to play this game. So, I allow that to the business people to say what it’s worth, what they’re supposed to give a quarterback of my play, a person of my play, a leader of my play, I guess you could say. For me, it’s about, as I said, control what I can control and handle that part and the rest will take care of itself.”

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