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What’s the end game for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys?

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What's the end game for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys?

The Cowboys have a lingering contract issue with quarterback Dak Prescott. And they only have themselves to blame.

They started this mess by not extending Dak’s contract after his third season, forcing him to play out the final year of a rookie contract. He was then forced to play under the franchise tag. Then, when they finally realized they were a year away from Dak making a Kirk Cousins-style exit, they gave him a four-year, $160 million contract that was designed to force the team back to the table after three seasons.

The Cowboys are back at the table, but nothing happens. As things stand, Dak has a cap hit of $55.4 million in 2024, plus another $54 million in dead money that will hit the cap in 2025.

The Cowboys need to redo the deal and remove the cap number, in order to extend receiver CeeDee Lamb and/or linebacker Micah Parsons. Dak knows it. He is part of the influence of it. And he made it clear on Wednesday that Business are business.

That is why they have not resolved the contract. He wants more than the Cowboys are willing to offer. And that will probably continue, perhaps until the end of the season. Maybe further.

The Cowboys might think Prescott wants more than anyone would pay him. The Cowboys and Prescott may need to test that theory.

It feels like the end of the current game. After the season, other interested teams make proposals to Prescott’s agents. They will discover what is behind door number 2 (or number 3). Prescott will then decide whether he accepts the Cowboys’ best offer or changes teams.

My own guess (and it’s just a guess) is that the Cowboys will improve their offer once they see what other teams will do, and that Prescott will need less to stay in Dallas than he could get elsewhere.

There is a specific caveat about this approach. Prescott agents will have to figure out what else is available well before the annual 52-hour trading window. His contract is void before the franchise tag deadline. Which will saddle the Cowboys with the massive 2025 salary cap hit. If the Cowboys extend him before then, the 2025 cap hit could be minimized.

Of course, there’s a chance the Cowboys give up. There is a chance they will give Prescott what he wants. There is a chance that Dak could bend a little now, even with maximum leverage.

As things stand, the two sides are headed for a high-stakes game that will begin to unfold the moment the Cowboys’ 2024 season ends. Until the deal closes, there’s a chance Prescott ends up with another team.

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