Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott wants to get paid – the question is, for how long?

Apparently, the contract negotiations between Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys are less about how much he’ll get paid more about how long he will get paid.

Despite placing the exclusive franchise tag on Dak Prescott on March 16 – which will place him north of $30 million next season – the Dallas Cowboys and their quarterback have remained at a stalemate in terms of their long-term contract negotiations.

The franchise is willing to pay, but it wants Prescott to sign for five years. Prescott wants to be paid, but he only wants to be locked in for four years.

With that, the internet essentially broke this week when former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, now an NFL analyst for Pro Football Talk, said on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan that sources told him the Cowboys recently offered to make Prescott the highest-paid player in NFL history with a 5-year, $175 million contract.

While the specifics of that deal have been debunked as of Thursday…

…the struggle between the two sides seems to revolve around this: Prescott only wants a four-year deal, presumably so that at age 31, he can sign another huge contract in the midst of the new quarterback market. Dallas, however, wants Prescott to sign for five years, giving the organization one extra year of security before having to potentially sign Dak to a second huge contract.

Make sense now?

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Great. Moving on.

Prescott’s value is perpetually a hot topic among pundits and fans. Last season represented the best individual campaign of his four-year career by far. After passing for 3,885 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2018, Prescott threw for 4,902 yards in 2019 – second most in the NFL – and 30 touchdowns, good for fourth best in the league.

He was one of only three quarterbacks in the NFL to pass for over 300 yards per game (306.4) and his QBR of 70.2 was fourth best in the league.

However, while Prescott got better, the Cowboys regressed.

After finishing above .500 in each of Dak’s first three seasons, winning two NFC East Division titles and making two playoff appearances in the process, the Cowboys finished 8-8 in 2019 and missed the playoffs, with Prescott struggling against the best teams in the league.

Is Prescott worth the contract that he’s asking for? Is he to blame for the standoff or should the Cowboys have already paid him months, even years ago?

When Simms dropped the now-debunked news dropped this week that the Cowboys made Prescott an offer of 5-year, $175 million, many in the media were taken aback, maintaining that Prescott was not worth such a lucrative contract.

Regardless of the report’s credibility, it still brought out the pundits’ true feelings regarding Dak’s worth.

Simms, who originally reported the contract news, said that Prescott is one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league, but not one of the league’s elite.

“Dak Prescott is not a top five quarterback to me, but he’s somewhere between 6-10 … You know the names on my top five quarterbacks in football: Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, [Patrick] Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson. To me those are the top five in the game. Then you get down to that next group: Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott … I think that’s the next group that [Prescott] is in the conversation with.”

Colin Cowherd went as far as to say that the Cowboys should let Dak become a free agent and let backup quarterback Andy Dalton take the reins.

For those who might have forgotten, in another plot twist in the Dallas quarterback saga, the Cowboys signed veteran QB Andy Dalton to a 1-year deal on May 2, one that could pay him between $3 million and $7 million, depending on how much time he spends on the field as opposed to the sideline.

Okay, back to Dak.

Former Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner didn’t comment on Prescott’s contract demands, but he did say last week that Prescott has a lot of room for growth before he can be considered a “championship caliber” quarterback, which Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones recently labeled Prescott.

“We’ve seen Dak, at times, do some really special things. Great quarterbacks, championship quarterbacks are guys that can carry a team on their shoulder at the most critical moments in games. That’s where he has to improve. Across the board, he does a lot of things well. But can he lift his team at the biggest moments? Put them on his back and say ‘I can make every single throw at critical moments to help us ascend to a championship team.’ That’s all I need to see from Dak Prescott. He’s done some great things early in his career. There’s a lot of room to grow, but he’s got to show that growth.”

Moments don’t get much bigger than in the playoffs, and in two trips to the playoffs, Prescott has a record of 1-2. However, his lone win did come over the Seattle Seahawks, led by Russell Wilson, a former Super Bowl champion in Seattle and the NFL’s highest-paid player.

In that game, Prescott scampered for a touchdown with two minutes left to seal the win for Dallas, and after the game, Cowboys offensive lineman Zack Martin – a 4-time First Team All-Pro selection and 6-time Pro Bowler – called Prescott a “winner.”

Stephen A. Smith, similar to Martin, is a believer in Prescott’s ability to be a winning quarterback in this league, now and in the future.

“Dak Prescott hasn’t had a losing record in his four-year career as a starter. He’s 40-24. He just need threw for 5,000 yards. I think he’s been a consummate leader, a high-end professional, and Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones are incredibly lucky to have him. I think it’s a travesty that he doesn’t have a long-term deal by now.”

Smith is not the only one that supports Prescott as the quarterback of the future in Dallas – the stats support Dak, too.

For instance, if Prescott were to play under the exclusive franchise tag this season, he would rank as the seventh highest paid quarterback in the league.

And of the eight highest paid QBs in the league, his QBR of 70.2 from 2019 is the best – better than Russell Wilson, better than Aaron Rodgers, better than Jared Goff and better than in-division rival Carson Wentz, who received a 4-year, $128 million contract in June of last year.

Dak’s resume before the age of 26 is nothing to sneeze at, as Shannon Sharpe points out.

And in Sharpe’s estimation, the Cowboys have painted Prescott into a corner by forcing him to play out his rookie contract instead of extending him earlier, similar to how the Los Angeles Rams extended Goff and the Philadelphia Eagles extended Wentz.

Now, Sharpe thinks the only way out for Dallas is to pay the man.

“[The Cowboys] let Dak get to the end of his contract … Look at Carson Wentz and look at Jared Goff – they signed going into their fourth years … [The Cowboys] let Dak get to the complete end of his contract … They made Dak play that contract out. They made Dak run the risk of injury. So Dak is unwilling to give them the deal that Carson Wentz and Jared Goff gave their teams … Dak is not gonna make any concessions.”

What a whirlwind of a contract negotiation, one that seemingly has no end in sight.

One more thing that should be noted is that regardless of whether Dak plays under the tag or signs a new deal for the 2020 season, he’ll be the quarterback with the highest cap hit in the NFL.

And over the last 10 years, that quarterback’s team hasn’t fared so well.

To be exact, over the previous three seasons, the QBs with the highest cap hit – Matthew Stafford in 2019, Jimmy Garoppolo in 2018 and Joe Flacco in 2017 – have not led their teams to the playoffs. In 2016, Eli Manning and the New York Giants lost in the Wild Card Round, while Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints missed the playoffs in 2015.

Manning and the Giants missed the playoffs in both 2013 and 2014, and in 2012, Peyton Manning lost in the Divisional Round. Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets missed the playoffs in 2011 and Donovan McNabb missed the playoffs with the Washington Redskins in 2010.

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In terms of the negotiations, one side is going to have to budge: either the Cowboys will take a year off their offer, or Prescott will except a longer-term contract than he prefers.

Who thought we’d see the day when an NFL player is actually asking for a shorter contract?

Only in Jerry World…