Dak Prescott isn’t going anywhere. At last.
The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to a four-year, $160 million contract with their two-time Pro Bowl quarterback, guaranteeing him a record $126 million according to multiple reports one day before it would have had to franchise tag Prescott for a second straight year.
The deal includes an NFL-record $66 million signing bonus, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details weren’t announced. According to ESPN, the total value of the deal can rise to $164 million.
Prescott played the 2020 season on a $31.4 million franchise tag, and was finished in Week 5 by a gruesome leg injury against the Giants. The 27-year-old was leading the NFL in yards passing for the league’s No. 1 offense when he suffered a compound fracture to and dislocation of his right ankle getting tackled on a run, and had surgery that night. He reportedly had a second surgery in December that wasn’t related to the initial injury, and was merely to strengthen the joint based on findings during the first.
Dallas went 4-7 without him to finish 6-10, the 15th time the Cowboys have missed the playoffs in the 25 seasons since their last Super Bowl victory. For all the uncertainty his injury caused, it also seemed clear owner Jerry Jones needed him. After two years of fruitless negotiations on a long-term extension, Dallas faced the prospect of tagging him again, at a cost of $37.7 million, and him heading to unrestricted free agency after the season.
ESPN reported the Cowboys will still place the tag on Prescott on Tuesday, but just as a procedural matter. The team said a press conference would be held Wednesday.
The Cowboys are 43-29 (including a 1-2 playoff record) with Prescott, taken in the fourth round out of Mississippi State in 2016. He replaced an injured Tony Romo that preseason, and promptly won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors while leading the Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Prescott holds the franchise record for 400-yard passing games with seven, trails only Romo with 15 300-yard passing games, and has rushed for 24 scores.
Since the start of the 2016 season, Prescott’s 17,634 passing yards are 11th among the 15 quarterbacks with at least 2,000 attempts, and his 97.3 passer rating is seventh. He ranks fifth in both game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime (15) and completion percentage (66.0) in that group, with only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees throwing fewer than Prescott’s 40 interceptions.
Jones has signed three players to deals of at least $100 million: Romo, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and receiver Amari Cooper.
Seattle, Carlos Dunlap part ways over pay
The Seattle Seahawks released veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap after the sides could not agree on a contract extension that would soften the blow of a $14.1 million salary cap hit.
Dunlap, 32, was acquired in a trade with Cincinnati midway through last season and was the spark for a pass rush that was among the better units in the league over the second half of the season. He appeared in eight regular-season games for the Seahawks, totaling five sacks and 14 quarterback hits.
But his salary for 2021 was always going to be a point of contention, especially with Seattle tight against the salary cap. When the trade was made, Seattle agreed to let Dunlap test free agency if an extension could not be reached.
“Seattle trade helped me grow in many ways. Still would love to play in front of the 12s, experience Seattle when things are open, but this is what it is right now,” Dunlap posted on social media. “The Passion will continue.”
Before being traded last season, Dunlap spent his entire career with the Bengals and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 and 2016. He had 46 sacks between 2015-19 and had eight sacks last year for Cincinnati.
Jets, Washington make franchise calls
A person with direct knowledge of the move says the New York Jets placed the franchise tag on safety Marcus Maye, a steady playmaker and leader with whom the team hopes to work out a long-term deal. The tag for a safety is expected to be worth around $10.5 million this year, and gives the sides until July 15 to work out a new contract. Maye, who turns 28 on Tuesday, was voted the team MVP by teammates last season . . . Washington placed the franchise tag on Brandon Scherff, tagging the standout guard for a second consecutive year in the aftermath of his first All-Pro season. Scherff stands to make almost $18 million after his camp and the team were unable to negotiate a long-term contract. His franchise tag was worth just under $15 million last season, when the 29-year-old started 13 games at right guard . . . Tennessee traded offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson to Miami, the 29th overall pick in 2020 out of Georgia changing teams after playing only four snaps as a rookie. NFL.com first reported the trade, saying a swap of picks also is involved. This deal caps a tenure in Tennessee that was filled with turmoil on and off the field for Wilson that included a social media post Feb. 22 that he was done with football as a Titan. The post was deleted minutes later. During the season, the Titans suspended Wilson for a game, then placed him on injured reserve/non-football illness list on Dec. 9 to deal with what general manager Jon Robinson called “personal issues” . . . Minnesota signed defensive end Stephen Weatherly to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Weatherly spent the first four years of his career as a rotational player with the Vikings, but he signed as a free agent last offseason with Carolina. He went on injured reserve with a finger injury after starting the first nine games, and was released on Feb. 19 . . . A federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit that challenged “race-norming” in dementia tests for retired NFL players, a practice that some say makes it harder for Black athletes to qualify for awards that average more than $500,000. Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody ordered the NFL and the lead lawyer in the overall $1 billion settlement to resolve the issue through mediation. That process would appear to exclude the Black players who sued, Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport. The demographic factors that doctors consider during testing for dementia often include race. If so, lawyers say, the testing assumes that Black athletes start with worse cognitive functioning than white people — which means it’s harder for them to show a deficit. Both Henry and Davenport were denied awards but would have qualified had they been white, according to their lawsuit, which wants race-norming banned going forward, and cases reviewed if it was used in the past. The settlement fund has so far paid more than $765 million to retired players for neurocognitive problems linked to NFL concussions, including about $335 million for dementia. Payments are expected to top $1 billion long before the 65-year settlement plan ends.