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.
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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