Dak Prescott won’t be taking an “America’s Team” discount to stay with the Cowboys on a new contract, a scenario Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith suggested this week.
In fact, players like Smith are the ones whose actions have informed Prescott to aim for the opposite — knowing they can get Jerry Jones to pay them what they’re worth (and then some) to Dallas.
In an interview with Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe, Smith said Prescott should consider taking less money for the betterment of the Cowboys. The 50-year-old thinks such a deal would help his former team elsewhere in free agency, like in its efforts to re-sign wide receiver Amari Cooper.
#Cowboys HOF Emmitt Smith on
Dak Prescott’s contract situation:
“How much money are you willing to leave on the table? The Cowboys are a marketable organization…
— Adam Lefkoe (@AdamLefkoe) February 19, 2020
As for money through endorsements, Prescott, 26, already has prime national deals with Sleep Number and Oikos Triple Zero among others. But no player in the NFL goes into contract negotiations thinking endorsement earnings should be factored into how much he deserves to take from his team, especially when that team is the Cowboys.
Smith held out not once, but twice during his career with the Cowboys on his way to being the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. The first came when he was as a rookie first-round pick in 1990. After 48 days, he signed a four-year, $5 million deal — a solid contract at the time. The second came in 1993, when the the Cowboys were fresh off their first Super Bowl victory with Jones as team owner. Smith held out for two games, both losses, before Dallas made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL with a four-year, $13.6 million deal.
Jones was prepared to give Smith the money required to keep the RB with the Cowboys in his prime. A quarter-century later, Jones’ brand of thinking hasn’t changed.
Just last year, the Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Ezekiel Elliott. That didn’t stop the running back from holding out of training camp, and his reward for ditching Oxnard for Cabo was a ridiculous six-year, $90 million extension with $50 million guaranteed. The contract made Elliott the highest-paid running back in the NFL, and the Cowboys gave it to him knowing Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper were unsigned for 2020.
At the time, Smith was totally behind Elliott getting as much as he could. And you can bet Elliott’s camp had confidence the Cowboys would come through thanks to the team’s history with players such as Smith.
Elliott did not take a discount to facilitate the Cowboys’ re-signing of Prescott and Cooper. He got overpaid at an overvalued position ahead of schedule, and as the Cowboys’ first-round pick from same 2016 draft class in which they took Prescott in the fourth round, Elliott was given a four-year, $24.9 million deal (all guaranteed) to begin his career.
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In a league where 20 quarterbacks average $16 million or more in base salary, Prescott played for just more than $2 million in 2019 to finish his bargain rookie contract. He has been giving the Cowboys a major discount for four years with a high level of play that far outweighs his No. 135 overall draft status.
If any young player in Dallas was going to be rewarded ahead of schedule, it should have been Prescott. Heck, he has showed even greater intangible and leadership worth to the team by not pouting or worrying about his contract one bit.
If anything, Smith should have reminded Prescott to take his sweet time to maximize his deal with the Cowboys. An exclusive franchise tag would not be a bad thing, because it would also buy Prescott time to find out just how high the quarterback market will be reset with Patrick Mahomes’ impending contract extension in Kansas City.
If this were another team known for being cheap and holding its ground with holdouts, Prescott would actually have reason for concern. A big-name former Cowboy such as Smith discounting Prescott’s value doesn’t change the fact that the QB can expect not to be shortchanged by Jones, however long it takes.