The blueprint for a Dak Prescott contract is set. Will the Dallas Cowboys and their quarterback follow the template or will emotion enter the equation?
The Dallas Cowboys and their quarterback Dak Prescott are negotiating a new contract from day one of the 2019 league year. Cowboys fans have no idea how close or far apart the two sides are to making a deal.
Speculation runs rampant that the Cowboys will make a big contract announcement on Wednesday. It would be a shock if the contract revealed is for their quarterback.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Rams signed their quarterback, Jared Goff, to a four-year extension. Goff was the first pick of the 2016 draft, the same draft that Dak Prescott was the 135th pick.
Goff received a four-year extension on top of the fourth year of his rookie contact and the fifth-year option that the team picked up. The new money averages $33.5 million per year valuing his six-year deal at nearly $166 million for six years or an average of $27.6 million per year.
The second overall pick of the 2016 draft, quarterback Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles, signed a four-year extension in June with the new money added to his remaining contract averaging $32 million per year. The total deal now averages $26.9 million per year for the six-year term.
Prescott is the third quarterback from the 2016 draft class that is currently an established starter in the NFL. Jacoby Brissett, the Indianapolis Colts new starting quarterback, was drafted by the New England Patriots with the 91st pick signed a new contract this week. Having only started 17 games over the first three years of his career, Brissett is an outlier for a contract comparable as his two-year $30 million dollar contract reflects his lack of starting experience.
With two valid comparable contracts, all that the Cowboys and Prescott’s representatives need to decide is which of the three quarterbacks is better.
To avoid the emotion of the argument, let’s review unbiased comparisons of the three quarterbacks. The numbers show the relative ranking of the quarterbacks to their peers.
NFL passer rating. Stats courtesy of NFL.com.
- Goff: 2018-8, 2017-6, 2016-34
- Wentz: 2018-7, 2017-5, 2016-27
- Prescott: 2018-14, 2017-19, 2016-3
Pro Football Focus grades are based on context and performance. As an example, the quarterback will not receive a negative grade on an interception when a receiver tips a well thrown ball into the arms of a defender. Data courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
- Goff: 2018-8, 2017-18, 2016-30
- Wentz: 2018-13, 2017-5, 2016-22
- Prescott: 2018-18, 2017-16, 2016-12
Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement gives the value of the quarterback ‘s performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent. Data courtesy of Football Outsiders.
- Goff: 2018-6, 2017-6, 2016-34
- Wentz: 2018-14, 2017-8, 2016-27
- Prescott: 2018-25, 2017-17, 2016-4
Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) represents value, per play, over an average quarterback in the same game situations. DVOA means a quarterback with more value per play. Data courtesy of Football Outsiders.
- Goff: 2018-6, 2017-5, 2016-34
- Wentz: 2018-12, 2017-6, 2016-27
- Prescott: 2018-26, 2017-17, 2016-3
QBR is a proprietary statistic created by ESPN that measures quarterback performance. It incorporates all of a quarterback’s contributions to winning, including how he impacts the game on passes, rushes, turnovers, and penalties. Data courtesy of Football Outsiders.
- Goff: 2018-11, 2017-18, 2016-34
- Wentz: 2018-13, 2017-2, 2016-26
- Prescott: 2018-19, 2017-5, 2016-3
When looking at each objective measure that values quarterback play only, it is clear to see that Prescott has regressed since his offensive rookie of the year first season. Whereas, Goff and Wentz are generally ascending. In their third years, the consensus of all metrics ranked Goff first, Wentz second and Prescott third.
Winning is the barometer that owners and fans use to judge team success. Let’s look at the number of wins each franchise has in the past three seasons.
- Los Angeles Rams: 2018-13, 2017-11, 2016-4 Total 28
- Philadelphia Eagles: 2018-9, 2017-13, 2016-7 Total 29
- Dallas Cowboys: 2018-10, 2017-9, 2016-13 Total 32
Football is a team game. It takes eleven men per play on offense, defense and special teams to be successful. Should Prescott get all the credit for the Cowboys extra regular season wins?
Playoff wins are even more valuable. Let’s look at the number of wins each franchise has in the past three seasons.
- Los Angeles Rams: 2018-2, 2017-0, 2016- Did Not Play (DNP) Total 2
- Philadelphia Eagles: 2018-1, 2017-3, 2016-DNP Total 4 (all four wins for Nick Foles as Wentz was injured)
- Dallas Cowboys: 2018-1, 2017-DNP, 2016-0 Total 1
The Rams beat the Cowboys on their journey to lose the Super Bowl in 2018. The Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017. This is the performance that ultimately matters.
So back to contract terms. Wentz and Goff have decided their worth. The consensus of the objective football measures value Goff over Wentz which shows in the slight bump in average per year contract value for Goff.
The Cowboys and Prescott are still trying to decide the value of the quarterback’s contract. Practicality would suggest a six-year term that averages slightly less than $26.9 million per season.
But practicality isn’t the only consideration in these matters. Perception and emotion factor into the equation.
Agents always want to show their future clients that they can exceed the market. Players want to reset the market. Are these factors at play with Prescott’s negotiating team?
Objectively, Dak Prescott has a market value of $26.5 million. If he signs a long-term commitment this season, we will see who wins the negotiation.