Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is entering the final season of his rookie contract and looking for a new deal. He is set to make just two million dollars before becoming an unrestricted free agent after this season. Because the Cowboys drafted Prescott in the third round, there is no fifth year team-option for 2020. Only first-round picks have a fifth year option in their contracts. The Cowboys seem committed to keeping Prescott around for a long time as their franchise quarterback.
Instead of letting him become a free agent after the 2019 season, they are trying to sign him to an extension before this season begins. Dak Prescott and his agent are reportedly asking the Cowboys for around $34 million per year, which Dallas has not agreed to yet. However, the Cowboys are likely to offer him, if they have not already, a contract averaging above $30 million. Teams are usually only willing to pay that kind of money to quarterbacks they see as transcendent players who can carry a team. So does Dak Prescott deserve $30 or even $35 million per year?
Quarterbacks Who Make $30 Million
First of all, let’s look at the company Dak Prescott would join if he indeed signs an extension with the Cowboys averaging north of $30 million dollars: Russell Wilson ($35 million); Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million); Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million); Carson Wentz ($32 million); Matt Ryan ($30 million)
That’s it. Only five quarterbacks currently make at least $30 million per season, and that is after Wentz’s recent extension. The $30 million per year would tie Prescott with Matt Ryan for the fifth highest paid quarterback in the league. If he gets the $34 million he is looking for, he would currently be the second highest paid quarterback behind Wilson. Now, 2016 number one overall pick Jared Goff might clear $30 million this offseason as well. Patrick Mahomes surely will get at least $35 million a year next offseason and Deshaun Watson might too. But Prescott would still be one of the eight or nine highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL at that point. Comparing him to each of the others will provide an idea on if he deserves top-tier money.
Dak Prescott’s Production
Dak has started all 48 possible regular-season games since coming into the league in 2016 and has proved to be durable. Over three seasons, he has completed 66.1 percent of his passes for an average of 3,625 yards per season. Prescott has averaged just about 22 touchdowns to go along with about eight interceptions a year. He has a passer rating of 96.0 and 7.4 yards per attempt. Dak’s QBR has declined each season, from 78.8 as a rookie to 69.5 in 2017 to just 58.6 last season.
Arguably the most critical situation on the field for a quarterback is third-and-long. Prescott has been well below average in those situations, converting the second-fewest number of times of any qualifying quarterback over the last three years. He only averages 6.9 yards per attempt in third-and-long situations as well.
On the other hand, Prescott has displayed some strengths that show he is a solid quarterback. His rushing ability adds an element for a defense to worry about, as he has picked up critical first downs with his legs before. He has even rushed for six touchdowns in each of his three seasons. Also, Dak is very good at keeping the ball away from the other team, as he only has one season with double-digit interceptions (13 in 2017).
Dak has been a good quarterback in his three playoff games. He has five passing touchdowns to only two interceptions and a passer rating of 95.7. In addition, he had a rushing touchdown in each of his two playoff games in 2018, as well as a couple of big first downs on the ground. His play certainly stays stable in the postseason and even improves at times.
Prescott Compared to the Others
Of the quarterbacks who make over $30 million per year, most are unquestionably better or more accomplished.
Russell Wilson has thrown for at least 34 touchdowns in three of the last four seasons and has never thrown more than eleven interceptions in a single season. Wilson has a career passer rating of 100.3 including four seasons over 100.0. He is just as big of a threat on the ground as Prescott and has a Super Bowl championship.
Aaron Rodgers’ name speaks for itself. He is a two-time MVP, a Super Bowl champion and one of the most talented quarterbacks of all time. We could go on and on about his accomplishments, but the point is he is worth more money than Prescott.
Ben Roethlisberger, even with his flaws, is a superior passer to Prescott. At 37, he is getting up there in age. However, quarterbacks are now able to perform well later into their careers. Just last season, Roethlisberger led the league in passing yards. He is a two-time Super Bowl champion and a future Hall of Famer.
Matt Ryan right now is definitely a better quarterback than Dak. He won the MVP in 2016 and came painstakingly close to a Super Bowl victory that same season. Last year, he was outstanding with a 69.4 percent completion rate, over 4900 yards, 37 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
Carson Wentz is the only quarterback currently making over $30 million who Prescott can make a legitimate argument against. Even that, though, is simply because Wentz has not proven his ability to stay healthy, as he had season-ending injuries each of the last two years. Wentz has a much higher ceiling than Prescott because of his athleticism in the pocket and arm talent. He also has had a quarterback rating over 100.0 and a QBR significantly higher than Dak’s each of the last two seasons. He would have won MVP if not for a late-season ACL tear in 2017 and has made throws that very few quarterbacks would be able to make.
Dak Prescott does not Deserve $30 Million
As can be seen, the five quarterbacks currently making over $30 million are all significantly more talented and/or more accomplished quarterbacks than Prescott. There are even better quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Tom Brady who make significantly below that mark.
If the Cowboys want to truly compete for a championship for years to come, they cannot pay Prescott the huge amount he is asking for. Prescott is a good, reliable quarterback and can even be the quarterback of a championship team. However, he needs pieces around him to succeed and cannot carry a team to extended postseason success.
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