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How Washington could benefit from Cowboys' Dak Prescott situation

How Washington could benefit from Cowboys' Dak Prescott situation

Anybody want to talk actual football? Well, it's possible that the Cowboys reluctance to get a long-term deal done with Dak Prescott could work out in Washington's favor. 

Fans of the burgundy and gold know what it means when a successful quarterback gets on the franchise tag treadmill. Even in good times, it leads to sniping, some infighting and a general air of instability. 

Of course Prescott and the Dallas brass will say the right things about wanting a long-term deal and wanting to be a Cowboy for life. But the truth is now Prescott is playing on a one-year deal, and because of the contractual structure and specific mechanisms of the franchise tag, it seems at least likely Prescott will play on a tag again in 2021. 

Prescott is now guaranteed more than $31 million for the 2020 season. That's about 15 percent of Dallas' total salary cap, and there's nothing to guarantee he plays for the team next year. 

That's a huge chunk of cash and cap space to devote to one player, but not that uncommon for the quarterback position. The reality, however, is that a long-term deal for Prescott would have saved Dallas money over time. Eventually even the biggest QB deals end up looking like bargains before they end. 

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How does this help Washington?

Well any instability in Dallas is good for their NFC East rivals, especially if the Cowboys don't know their long-term plan at quarterback. For the 2020 season the Dallas offense looks explosive but the team had to let top cornerback Byron Jones walk in free agency because they simply didn't have the salary cap space, and that was before Prescott locked in at $31 million for this year. 

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Don't fool yourself - Jerry Jones has been smart in locking up a number of the Cowboys best offensive players with contract extensions, some even on team friendly deals. But that also leaves Dallas with hardly any wiggle room and puts significant pressure on 2020 being a Super Bowl or bust season. 

Instability at QB. Increased pressure.

Some teams thrive in those situations, but for nearly a decade with former coach Jason Garrett at the helm, the Cowboys didn't. Maybe new coach Mike McCarthy can change that, but he better do it quick. 

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Are the Cowboys, Dak Prescott headed down the Kirk Cousins road?

Are the Cowboys, Dak Prescott headed down the Kirk Cousins road?

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will play the 2020 season under the franchise tag, as the two sides weren't able to agree on a long-term deal after months of negotiating.

In Washington, this situation feels eerily familiar. Cue, Kirk Cousins.

Cousins had an exceptional season for Washington in 2015, leading the team to a division title. After the season, Cousins felt he had earned himself a multi-year extension. But the two sides could not find common ground on a long-term deal, and the quarterback was franchise tagged. A similar situation occurred in 2017, and he was tagged again. 

After two seasons of playing under the franchise tag, Cousins hit the open market, signing a record $84 million fully-guaranteed deal with Minnesota in 2018. This past offseason, he signed another lucrative extension and has become one of the highest-earning quarterbacks in NFL history.

Prescott has started every game for Dallas since 2016 and turned into one of the NFL's better passers over that span. Over that time, Prescott's contract has also been one of the biggest bargains in the NFL. Over his first four years in the NFL, the 2016 fourth-round pick earned a combined $2.7 million.

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If Prescott is heading down a similar road that Cousins did, that's good news for the quarterback and bad news for the Cowboys.

Since 2005, only two quarterbacks have played a season under the tag: Cousins and Drew Brees. Both had solid campaigns playing under the tenure and cashed in lucrative, multi-year deals in free agency with new teams, Minnesota and New Orleans, respectively.

In an interview with ESPN in May, Cousins said he believes if Prescott stays patient and continues to perform well, he will get his deserved payday. Under the tag, Prescott will earn $31.4 million in 2020.

"If you’re good enough, the cream’s going to rise to the top, and you’re going to get compensated the way you want to," Cousins said. "Sometimes it doesn’t happen as quickly as you would like, but if you deserve it, and you’ve earned it, it’s going to happen. So you’ve just got to stay the course and stay patient. Certainly in my journey, it all worked out. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing."

In the NFL, there's a common misconception that cheap quarterbacks win Super Bowls. But the reality is, that's simply not the case: good quarterbacks win Super Bowls.

Since Prescott's been in Dallas, he's seen several of his teammates -- Ezekiel Elliott, Demarcus Lawrence, and Amari Cooper -- all sign lucrative extensions. All three of those players are very good, but none of them play the sport's most important position. 

For Prescott, playing under the tag is not the worst thing. But eventually, he'll get tired of waiting, and Dallas will be out of time to lock up their young star passer.

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Report: Cowboys QB Dak Prescott to sign franchise tender

Report: Cowboys QB Dak Prescott to sign franchise tender

Dak Prescott will soon officially be a Dallas Cowboy for at least the 2020 season.

The 26-year-old quarterback plans to sign his exclusive franchise tender by Monday, June 22, at the latest, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Under the tag, Prescott will make $31.4 million next season.

Prescott was initially tagged by Dallas on March 16. The two sides have less than a month to agree on a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline. 

By signing the franchise tender, Prescott is now required to arrive at training camp on time, regardless of if the two sides have worked out a long-term deal or not.

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The Cowboys have shown plenty of interest in signing the quarterback to a long-term deal, but no resolution has come, even after months of negotiations between the two sides. Prescott, originally a fourth-round pick in 2016, has made just $4.9 million over his first four seasons.

For Redskins fans, this situation between Prescott and the Cowboys sounds quite familiar. Washington experienced a similar situation with former quarterback Kirk Cousins, who played under the franchise tag for two seasons before signing a three-year, $84 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings in 2018. At the time, Cousins's deal with Minnesota was the richest contract in NFL history.

In May, Cousins said in an interview with ESPN that Prescott should "not be afraid of the tag."

"I believe the franchise tag can be your friend," Cousins said. "I don’t think it’s something to be disappointed with. I think it enables you to be well compensated, and deservedly so, for the upcoming season."

The Redskins have not fared well against Dallas since Prescott became the team's starter in 2016. Since then, the Cowboys signal-caller has won seven of eight games against Washington, throwing for 13 touchdowns and just one interception over that span.

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