Why Dak Prescott absolutely deserves $40 million per year

Dak Prescott is looking for a contract approaching $40 million per year, and here’s why the former Mississippi State standout is worth every penny of that asking price.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has heard it all before; doesn’t have pocket presence, isn’t accurate enough, not a high football IQ, improvises too much, not good at pre-snap reads.

Yet despite all these knocks on his game both while at Mississippi State and since going to the NFL, Prescott has managed to help breathe life into a franchise that was becoming very used to failure.

When drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Cowboys, Prescott was never really thought of as being the immediate replacement for then-quarterback Tony Romo. Dallas picked Prescott with the thought of having a young backup who would be a good project.

Obviously, things progressed a lot quicker than anticipated and Prescott was pressed into service as a rookie, and was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, PFWA All-Rookie team member and a Pro Bowl selection in 2016.

For a guy with so many supposed holes in his game, he’s done remarkably well under one of the biggest spotlights in the NFL.

It’s safe to say the Cowboys had themselves a bargain for at least a few years, and while Dallas hasn’t returned to Super Bowl glory just yet, anyone who follows the game can see that Dak Prescott needs to be the guy who leads them there.

With his rookie deal now complete, Prescott and his agent Todd France were looking to cash in on the young quarterback’s success. What they got is a one-year franchise tag that will be worth in the neighborhood of $33 million, slightly less than the $40 million per year asking price France was presenting to the Cowboys.

Dak Prescott will get what he’s asking from some NFL team

Who knows what goes through the mind of Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones? Many observers have felt he’s never really bought into Dak as his franchise quarterback. It’s possible he’s still looking over the horizon at what’s coming down the line in a quarterback-rich draft over the next two seasons.

Regardless of what Jerry thinks of Dak, the fact is that some team — maybe or maybe not the Cowboys — is going to meet Prescott’s asking price and get themselves a guy who will work his ass off to make sure he’s earning every penny of his salary.

Here is a current list of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL by annual average salary:

1. Russell Wilson: $35 million
2. Ben Roethlisberger: $34 million
3. Aaron Rodgers: $33.5 million
3. Jared Goff: $33.5 million
5. Carson Wentz: $32 million
6.  Matt Ryan: $30 million
7.  Kirk Cousins: $28 million
8. Jacoby Brissett: $27.98 million
9.  Jimmy Garoppolo: $27.5 million
10. Matthew Stafford: $27 million

Now, if your measuring stick is based on Super Bowls, Dak Prescott probably doesn’t even crack that list. Of those ten quarterbacks, only Matthew Stafford, Jacoby Brissett, Kirk Cousins, and Carson Wentz haven’t at least appeared as a starting QB in the Super Bowl, and only Brissett doesn’t have a fairly long history of winning games for his team.

But contracts in the NFL aren’t just based on rings or wins. Of the ten quarterbacks on that list, at least five of them are nearing the ends of their careers and with that so are their contracts, some of which were signed a number of years ago.

The younger generation who have signed lucrative deals in recent seasons are all surpassing the $120 million mark in overall contract value, one of which is the Eagles’ Carson Wentz.

Contracts, many times, are driven by perceived market value and teams can easily drive up the market price for a position by the way they negotiate with a player they highly covet. When Carson Wentz agreed to his 4-year, $128 million contract extension in June of 2019, he set the bar for other upcoming QB contract extensions.

Wentz is obviously a good quarterback, but if a guy who has missed eight games over his first four years due to injury and who watched his backup lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory is worth $32 million a year then the market should dictate that Dak Prescott is worth more than that.

When you compare the two, Prescott has never missed a game in his first four seasons, he has a higher completion percentage on more attempts, more passing yards, higher yards per pass completion, more game-winning drives and more 4th quarter comebacks than Wentz.

While some of those stats can be attributed to Wentz missing games with injury, another important factor is what Prescott brings with his legs.

Over four seasons, Prescott has gained 1,221 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per rush when he carries the ball. Rushing isn’t even a real part of Wentz’s game.

Prescott is more durable, has more potential upside, gives an offensive coordinator more options for a scheme, and is a proven team leader. The Cowboys respond to and respect Dak Prescott, something that can’t be overlooked in an NFL locker room. The same was true when he was at Mississippi State. A team who hungered for real leadership at the quarterback position rallied around Prescott.

The Eagles dictated that a relatively unproven quarterback who missed the last half of the regular season and the playoff run of the best season in year history was worth $32 million per year. Dak Prescott has a year (or maybe two) of using the franchise tag to prove to the NFL that he’s worth more than Wentz.

If Jerry Jones and the Cowboys don’t buy into that fact soon, you can bet that at least one franchise in a quality quarterback-starved league will happily pay for Dak’s services.