There could be a lot of quarterbacks on the move this off-season and on Saturday the NFL quarterback carousel got started with both Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford being involved in a trade between the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions. Time will tell if the Rams made the right move. Deshaun Watson wants the Houston Texans to trade him and they should actually make the move. Philip Rivers has announced his retirement and Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger could possibly hang up their cleats as well. But another quarterback who should want out of his current situation is Dak Prescott. Thus far the former Mississippi State signal caller and Dallas Cowboys have been unable to agree to a long-term deal. A Dak Prescott trade would be the best case scenario for the quarterback.
Dak Prescott Trade Would Benefit Quarterback and Dallas Cowboys
Last fall it appeared the Cowboys and Prescott may agree to a five-year, $175 million contract with $110 million guaranteed. But that deal was eventually turned down by Prescott. The lack of a long-term deal caused the Cowboys to place the franchise tag on Prescott at a price of $31.4 million for the 2020 season. Reportedly, regarding the lack of a long-term deal, the money was not the sticking point, it was the number of years in the contract. Prescott wanted a four-year deal while Dallas wanted the contract to be for five years.
Prescott went down with a serious ankle injury in the Cowboys Week 5 game when he suffered a dislocation and compound fracture to his right ankle. He is reportedly making great strides in trying to come back and despite being in the middle of recovery from said injury, Prescott still has the leverage in contract negotiations with the Cowboys.
Salary Cap Issues
If the Cowboys were to tag Prescott again it would cost them $37.7 million for the 2021 season. That would be an issue for a lot of teams, but it is even worse for the Cowboys as they are currently projected to enter the off-season with only $17.8 million in salary cap room. That projected $17.8 million in space doesn’t even take into account Prescott’s potential 2021 cap number or that of some key in-house free agents, including Aldon Smith and Xavier Woods.
Dallas simply does not have the salary cap room to tag Prescott yet again without a plan to trade him. They drastically need to improve on the defensive side of the ball and tagging Prescott in 2021 would make it impossible for the Cowboys to get better on defense, especially if they don’t want to take a step back on offense. And, getting salary cap relief on the offensive side of the ball would be extremely difficult with players like Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, Zack Martin and others already signed to expensive deals.
Signing Prescott to a long-term deal and pushing some of the money into the future could help, but that doesn’t necessarily allow them to solve all of their issues. They have too many holes on defense and just look at how dreadful their offense was without Prescott. Would he want to sign up for that again?
Destinations That Make Sense
Teams that have a lot of salary cap room and are in need of a starting quarterback make the most sense as potential destinations for Prescott. That could include the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, and New England Patriots.
The Jags most likely won’t be looking to trade for Prescott given that they have the first pick in this year’s draft. They will either use that pick to select Trevor Lawrence or make a trade with the Texans to acquire Deshaun Watson. They won’t make a trade for Prescott, especially since he isn’t currently under contract. The Jets will either keep Sam Darnold under center or, if the rumor mill is accurate, try to trade for Watson.
The Patriots could make sense since they have a talented defense, the second most salary cap room this off-season, Bill Belichick would appreciate the kind of hard work Prescott puts in day in and day out and the kind of leader he is, and they are miles away from having an answer at the quarterback position. The question would be if Belichick and the Patriots would want to work out a trade with the Cowboys and then sign Prescott to a long-term deal.
The Colts make the most sense since they have the most cap space this off-season, Rivers recently announced his retirement, the Colts have talent on both sides of the ball and were a playoff team in 2020. Indy also plays in the AFC South and that division isn’t exactly the best in the NFL. The Texans are a dumpster fire inside of another dumpster fire and will most likely lose Watson this off-season. The Jaguars will be rebuilding with Lawrence under center if they don’t trade for Watson. The Tennessee Titans are formidable, but the Colts, with Prescott at quarterback, would probably be the favorite in the division next season and possibly beyond.
Prescott may not be a top-five quarterback, but he is absolutely a quarterback with which a team can win. The Cowboys need to improve their roster in various areas and lack the financial flexibility to do so. These negotiations have also now dragged out for what seems like 10 years (OK it’s been 19 months). Prescott is obviously aware of all of this.
The Cowboys have voiced that they don’t want to part with Prescott, but they may have to, essentially in what amounts to a sign-and-trade, if he doesn’t want to sign a long-term deal with the Cowboys. If the team tags Prescott in 2021 and fail to reach a long-term agreement they will most likely lose him for nothing after the 2021 season. A Dak Prescott trade makes sense for both the player (he can go to a team that can pay him and still have a good roster around him) and team (they can get some salary cap flexibility and draft picks).