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Trevor Lawrence contract doesn’t change things for Dak Prescott

The new Trevor Lawrence contract matches Joe Burrow’s deal in new-money average. It will have ripple effects for other quarterbacks who are closing in on new deals.

There’s one quarterback it doesn’t impact. Dak Prescott.

Prescott’s leverage isn’t driven by the question of whether anyone matches or beats Burrow’s annual new-money average. What matters for Prescott is the fact that he has a straight shot to free agency, unfettered and unimpeded by the ability of the Cowboys to keep him from getting to the open market.

That’s the direct consequence of the four-year, $160 million deal that Prescott signed after the 2020 season. The contract was engineered to prevent the franchise tag or the transition tag. It also was designed to get the Cowboys to extend the deal with one year left.

One factor toward that end was the massive cap number for 2024, which the Cowboys mildly restructured down to $55.455 million. And if Dak leaves next year, the Cowboys will take another $54.465 million cap charge.

The only way to reduce those numbers will be to sign him to a new deal. The only way to keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent will be to sign him to a new deal.

Extending Dak is also a potential key to extending receiver CeeDee Lamb (who wants his next deal now) and linebacker Micah Parsons (who claims to be patient but definitely shouldn’t be).

Dak’s value on his next deal comes from his leverage in the last year of his current one. They need to reduce his cap number for 2024. They need to keep his contract from voiding and dumping a $54.465 million cap charge in his name onto the 2025 books, regardless of whether they re-sign him.

Dak possesses exactly the kind of business leverage on which Cowboys owner Jerry Jones routinely has capitalized throughout his career. Dak needs to only ask himself, “WWJD?”

The “J” in that formulation wouldn’t turn cheeks; he’d squeeze balls. By not accepting whatever the Cowboys have offered, that’s what Dak is doing.

That’s why no one else’s contract matters. Dak already had the power to get a long-term contract that starts with a 6, thanks to the contract he signed three years ago. And that’s why we said from the get-go that, of all the quarterback contracts signed at or about the same time, Dak’s was the best. Better than the Patrick Mahomes deal. Better than the Josh Allen deal.

The beauty of the Dak contract is that it forced the Cowboys to re-do the contract after three years or face chaos. That chaos is already unfolding, via the inability to even consider making good on Jerry’s hollow vow to go “all in.”