Looking ahead to next year, the biggest free agent that is likely to hit the market is Dak Prescott. If Prescott were to hit the market, he would headline the free-agent class and be the biggest story of the offseason. Prescott has been the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback since he was drafted by the team in the fourth round in 2016. He was thrust into action because of an injury to long time starter Tony Romo. Prescott was supposed to keep the offense afloat until Romo came back, but instead remained the teams starter and has been ever since.
In Prescott’s rookie season he was named to the Pro Bowl and won Offensive Player of the year. He was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2018-19. Prescott has a 40-24 record as a starter, 97-36 career touchdown/interception ratio, 21 career rushing touchdowns and has led the Cowboys to two dvision titles. This past season Prescott had career highs in passing attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdown passes. But the Cowboys had their worst record since Prescott entered the league as well.
After not coming to terms on an extension the Dallas Cowboys franchise-tagged Prescott to keep him in in the building for at least one more year to continue working on terms for an extension. So far the Cowboys and Prescott have not been able to come to terms on an agreement after multiple attempts. Even after offering Prescott a five-year $175 million deal, making the highest-paid quarterback in the league, he would not sign the extension. Prescott wants either a three-year deal or wants to make over $45 million in the last year of his five year deal.
As time passes by, this seems more and more like the situation between Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins in 2016 and 2017. If Prescott and the Cowboys go down a road similar to that we could see Prescott in a different uniform in 2021. Here are some teams that could consider signing Prescott if he were to hit the market after next season.
The End of a Long Battle
Team: Dallas Cowboys
Contract: 4 years $155 Million
The best destination for Prescott is to remain in Dallas. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys executives have done everything in their power to make Dak Prescott comfortable and give him the best opportunity to succeed. The Dallas Cowboys replaced Jason Garrett with Mike McCarthy who is a pass-first offensive coach that played a huge role in the development of Aaron Rodgers. Even though they made changes at the head coaching postion they kept offensive coordinator Kellen Moore at his position. Moore has a great relationship with Prescott being his former back up and now coaching him at some level since 2018. The team also re-signed his favorite weapon Amari Cooper to a five-year deal and drafted one of the best wide receivers in the draft in CeeDee Lamb. Not to mention that a large part of the offense will go through Ezekiel Elliot. The Cowboys are expected to have one of the best offenses in the league could make a case to be the best in the league.
The only thing keeping this deal from happening in the first place is Prescott’s requests. What the Prescott camp is asking for is what former MVPs like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson could receive when they are ready for an extension. Prescott does not have the resume that Mahomes or Jackson does. Many debate on if Prescott is even a top-10 quarterback. So it is fair to say that receiving an elite level contract shouldn’t be in the cards for Prescott. However in order to get a deal done both sides will have to budge. The Cowboys need to consider paying Prescott slightly more than he is valued. While Prescott needs to realize that he isn’t among the league’s elite at this point. It is fair for him to reset the market, but isn’t at the point of his career to make much more than what the highest-paid quarterback (Russell Wilson) is making now. Both sides are better off if this deal gets done.
The Patriots Master Plan
Team: New England Patriots
Contract: 3 years $105 million
The biggest quarterback question mark coming into next season is the New England Patriots. After losing Tom Brady in free agency the team decided to go with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham as their starter next season. No one knows how Stidham will play next season. Coming into the league people thought he would be a backup with upside. Now Stidham has to follow up arguably the greatest quarterback to play the game. The reason why New England did not go after a better veteran option than Brian Hoyer was because they could not afford to sign a starting quarterback to a salary at market price. However next season the Patriots will have over $86 million available which is sixth-most in the league. The Patriots have a couple of free agents hitting the market including Joe Thuney, Donta Hightower, Jason McCourty, James White and David Andrews. However, the Patriots should be willing to let some of the older or nonessential free agents hit the market if it means that they can fix the quarterback position.
If Stidham does not show that he is a capable starting quarterback the Patriots will upgrade at the position via free agency or the draft. Prescott is a perfect fit for what the Patriots offense has been the past couple of years. Prescott is one of the better quarterbacks in the league at managing a game. That is not to call him a game manager, because he does a lot more than manage the game. Prescott can move the ball and control the clock when his team is in a lead better than a lot of quarterbacks. Essentially that has been Tom Brady has done in this offense for the past two years. Like Brady, Prescott is a former Day 3 draft pick that molded himself into an established starter. They are also both extremely accurate and efficient passers. The biggest change in this offense would be that now they would have the ability to run read-option plays because of Prescott’s mobility.
Playing in New England would mean that he would be in the lead a lot, especially if their defense continues to play the way it did last season. Prescott also thrives when he has a consistent running game, which New England has in their committee of James White/Sony Michel/Rex Burkhead. He also loves his slot receivers and would hook up with the best slot receiver in the league in Julian Edleman if he lands here. The biggest fear in this scenario would be the fact that besides Edleman the Patriots do not have a lot of reliable receivers on their roster. Mohammed Sanu is as good as gone next offseason and N’Keal Harry needs to show that he could be a threat in this offense in his first full season next year. It isn’t that crazy to say that Prescott would be an upgrade over what the Patriots had last season in Tom Brady. Could Prescott be the missing piece between the Patriots and their seventh Super Bowl win?
Back to Back Big Splash Quarterback Signings
Team: Indianapolis Colts
Contract: 5 years $195 million
The Indianapolis Colts made a lot of win-now moves this offseason. The biggest indication of that the fact that they are trying to win now was going for an older quarterback like Philip Rivers on a one year deal rather than sign Teddy Bridgewater or draft one at 13th overall. The Colts also traded their first-round pick for established veteran Deforest Buckner rather than use it on a young player. After this offseason, the Colts will only have fourth round pick, Jacob Eason, on their quarterback depth chart. Both Rivers and Jacoby Brissett are free agents after this year. The idea was for the Colts to re-sign Rivers after this season and for Brissett to likely sign elsewhere after this year. However, if Rivers disappoints, we could see the Colts take a swing at the best free-agent quarterback available.
It would be idiotic for the Colts not to consider a quarterback the caliber of Prescott if he were to hit the market. The Colts are in a similar situation as the 2018 Minnesota Vikings. In 2017-18 the Vikings had the most expensive and complicated quarterback room in football. They had to decide whether to re-sign Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater or Case Keenum. Rather than re-sign one of them to a contract that is worth the amount all three were paid that season, the Vikings decided to pay Kirk Cousins elite quarterback money that was slightly more than what all three quarterbacks were worth the year before. The Colts could do that with their current quarterback room. Rivers and Brissett are set to make $38.4 million combined next season. The Colts could dump both of them and sign Dak Prescott for between $500K-$1.5 Million more than that.
The team also has the most salary cap space next offseason in $110 million to sign possibly Prescott, a couple more veterans to boost the roster and retain their (few) valuable free agents. Chris Ballard has drafted extremely well over the years to make the Indianapolis Colts a very attractive team to free agents. Prescott could be intrigued to work behind the Colts offensive line and play with this year’s rookies Michael Pittman Jr and Jonathan Taylor. They could be a year away from really becoming Super Bowl contenders and signing Dak Prescott could be a move that gets them there.
Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
Contract: 5 years $210 Million
In recent years the Jacksonville Jaguars have made some ill-advised moves when it comes to the quarterback position. In 2018 the Jaguars signed Blake Bortles to a three-year $54 million deal. Just over a year later Bortles was cut. They cut Bortles because they signed Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million deal. About a year after that the Jaguars traded Foles away to the Chicago Bears for a fourth-round pick. Foles only played in four games for the Jaguars and lost four games. So it is fair to say that the Jaguars don’t have a problem throwing money at mediocre quarterbacks. With over $97 million in salary cap space (third in the league) they can do that again in 2021. Prescott is not a mediocre quarterback. But if he is trying to get completely overpaid, Jacksonville might be his highest bidder.
Gardner Minshew is the team’s starting quarterback. However, he does not have guaranteed job security past this year. The Jaguars are expected to be amongst the bottom of the league. However, if they end up with a draft pick towards the bottom of the top-10 like they did this past season, they might miss out on this year’s quarterbacks. If that happens and the organization loses faith in Gardner Minshew, they might have to go the free agency route once more. The Jaguars would have to overpay Prescott and be his highest bidder in order to be considered for his services. Jacksonville is a smaller market team that is extremely young, has a lot of holes on its roster and doesn’t have a lot of promise to be a potential playoff team anytime soon. Prescott could make the Jaguars average. He could keep them between 7-9 and 9-7 record. For Prescott, this destination would simply be for the money. Their defense is fading, their offensive line needs some work, Leonard Fournette could leave in free agency and their young receiving core shows promise but lacks a true number one.
Really stick it to Dallas
Team: Washington Redskins
Contract: 5 years $205 million
What better way to get back at the team who refuses to pay you what think you deserve than sign with their division rival? Out of all of the teams in the NFC East, the Washington Redskins have the shakiest quarterback room. In 2019, the Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins 15th overall to be their quarterback of the future. In his first season, Haskins went 2-5 in his starts and threw seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. In those two wins, he threw no touchdowns so it is hard to even give him a large amount of credit for the wins. The Redskins hired Ron Rivera to become the new head coach. After the hiring, there were discussions on whether the team would look in a new direction at quarterback, much like what happened to Josh Rosen in Arizona. The Redskins traded for Rivera’s former quarterback in Carolina Kyle Allen who is expected to compete for the job if Haskins disappoints. If Chase Young wasn’t such a can’t miss prospect would the Redskins have considered a quarterback at second overall?
If Haskins disappoints again in year two then Rivera might have a shorter leash on him and move on from him next offseason. The Redskins have over $86 million in salary cap and will have more if they let go of veteran quarterback Alex Smith. So signing a quarterback the caliber of Prescott is possible. This really all relies on how Ron Rivera imagines rebuilding this team. Signing Prescott would launch the Redskins into a position to win the NFC East title and could take the division rival Cowboys out of it. The Redskins have a track record signing big-name players who used to play for their division rivals. Signing Prescott could flip the entire division. On paper, the Redskins defense could be one of the leagues best and their offense, though very young, has some decent pieces to build around. He might not be the final piece to make the Redskins contenders, but he could launch them a few steps forward into that direction.