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Cowboys would be wise to pay Micah Parsons as soon as they can

Mike Florio and Chris Simms break down Stephen Jones’ comments about Micah Parsons’ position, as it pertains to his future, and discuss what makes him “a unicorn” of a player.

With quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys played the waiting game -- and lost. With Micah Parsons, they should not delay.

Parsons, regardless of whether he’s a linebacker or a defensive end, is arguably the best defensive player in football. He becomes eligible for a new contract immediately after the 2023 regular season ends. That’s when the Cowboys should make him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.

Don’t wait until after the playoffs. Don’t wait until after Parsons has finished his fourth season. Get it done. The sooner, the better. The sooner, the cheaper.

They should start negotiating with Parsons’s people now. The terms should be in place pending the completion of Week 18. The new deal should be done the day after that happens, especially if the Cowboys qualify for the playoffs.

Push the injury risk to the Cowboys. Make him an offer he won’t refuse.

The math to get to the highest APY for any defensive player isn’t difficult. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald currently has the high-water mark at $31.667 million. Parsons is due to make $2.2 million in 2023 and $2.989 million in 2024.

So sign him to a four-year, $128 million extension after the season. Or a five-year, $160 million extension. With his 2024 pay, he’ll sign either a five-year, $130.989 million contract or a six-year, $162.989 million deal. Either arrangement has a new-money average of $32 million.

For the former, it’s an average from signing of $26.19 million. For the latter, the average from signing is $27.14 million.

The problem for the Cowboys could be that the nuances of old money and new money won’t be lost on Parsons. He’ll likely assess the deal based on value at signing, not new-money average.

Regardless, the Cowboys should start laying the foundation now for paying Parsons after the regular season ends. The longer they wait, the more expensive it will be. And the greater the chance Parsons will force his way to the franchise tag, play under it for two years, and then leave via unrestricted free agency.