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NFL rumors: Dallas Cowboys could let Dak Prescott hit free agency

Vincent Frank
NFL rumors: Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott
Oct 11, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) calls a play in the second quarter against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

NFL rumors are picking up big time now that the first blockbuster trade of the young offseason has been all but confirmed. Obviously, we’re talking about the Detroit Lions moving Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for a package including quarterback Jared Goff.

It was the first in what promises to be a domino effect as it relates to quarterback movement in both free agency and via the trade market. One such player many have not discussed a whole lot is Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Last offseason was filled with a ton of talk about Prescott’s contract situation after Dallas placed the franchise tag on him. This changed five games into the 2020 season after the Pro Bowl signal caller suffered a serious ankle injury. Contract talks were put on hold as he went into rehab mode.

Now, with free agency slated to start here in just over a month, we’re hearing more about Prescott. It’s rather interesting stuff.

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Dallas Cowboys could let Dak Prescott test free agency

Hard Knocks, Dak Prescott
Sep 27, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) returns to the locker room following pregame warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

“The Jones family wants to sign Prescott to a long-term contract. They want him to be this team’s quarterback going forward. But the sides have spent 19 months trying to find a middle ground and have been unable to reach an agreement. If the gulf remains and the club applies a second franchise tag in early March, the Cowboys must continue moving on from Prescott. Why? A second franchise tag is a nuclear option,” Cowboys beat writer David Moore of the Dallas Morning News noted recently.

“If Dallas uses that tag and then is unable to sign Prescott to a long-term deal in July before training camp starts, the quarterback will play this season and then be gone next year in free agency. The Cowboys can’t let it get to that point. If the sides don’t reach an agreement by the March 9 deadline, or aren’t convinced a deal is imminent, the Cowboys must move on and look at jumping into this uncharacteristically unsettled quarterback market and the draft to find a replacement. Again, it’s not the preferred option, but it can’t be ruled out.”

There’s a whole bunch going on here. First off, owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys’ brass has made it clear that the franchise tag is a realistic option for Prescott after placing said tag on him last spring. However, they can’t place the tag on him in 2022. Moore suggests that getting to that point would not be great news for Dallas.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Cowboys, check out #DallasCowboys rumors, rankings, and news here.

NFL rumors had suggested last offseason that the Cowboys wanted Prescott to take a five-year contract. Instead, he wanted a shorter four-year deal. That was the major hiccup.

Prescott, 27, has morphed into a top-end signal caller since the Cowboys made him a fourth-round pick back in 2016. He put up north of 5,000 total yards with 33 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in 2019. The Mississippi State product was leading the NFL in passing yards when he went down to the above-mentioned injury Week 5 against the New York Giants.

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NFL rumors: Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers
Dec 20, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) passes the ball against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Based on his numbers over the past few seasons, there’s very few quarterbacks who would act as upgrades over Prescott. Clearly on the trade block, Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans is one. Meanwhile, likely NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers would be an upgrade. However, it’s not yet known whether he’s on the block.

Read More: Blockbuster NFL trades that could happen after Matthew Stafford deal

As for the Prescott situation, it makes very little sense for the Cowboys to simply let him walk in free agency. The team would be better off placing the franchise tag on Prescott and trading him for draft capital. That could help acquire someone like Watson in a blockbuster trade.