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Dak Prescott’s Contract Details, Salary Cap Impact, and Bonuses

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys agreed to a contract on March 8, but how much is it worth, and what is the impact on the Cowboys’ salary cap?

Dak Prescott's Contract Details, Salary Cap Impact, and Bonuses
Sep 20, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) screams as he is announced and takes the field against the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The long-running NFL saga of Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys concluded Monday night as Prescott signed a new contract with the team. Let’s take a look at Prescott’s contract, the details in terms of signing bonus, base salary, and what options the Cowboys will have in the future.

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Dak Prescott signed a four-year contract with the Cowboys

The basics of Dak Prescott’s contract is that it is a four-year, $160 million deal. Prescott will receive a $66 million signing bonus, with $126 million in guarantees. $95 million is fully guaranteed at signing. The remaining $31 million becomes guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2022 league year. The first three years of the deal average at $42 million, with all of the guaranteed money is in those first three seasons. There are incentives in the deal which can make it a $164 million deal when all is said and done.

Prescott’s contract makes him the second-highest-paid QB in the NFL. In addition, he receives the largest signing bonus in NFL history.

Dak Prescott’s contract has two void years in it

However, there are two numbers in terms of years in discussion for the Dak Prescott contract. The headline number is that this is a four-year deal. That is true in terms of how long he is contracted to be playing for the Cowboys. The second number in mention is a six-year contract, with the final two years being void years at the end of the deal.

Related | 2021 NFL Free Agency: Top 100 NFL Free Agents of 2021

Adding the two void years allows the Cowboys to spread the signing bonus over six years and reduce his cap number in 2021. If the $66 million signing bonus was over a four-year period, the prorated money would amount to $16.5 million per year.

However, with the extra two years at the end of the deal, the prorated money should be $11 million per year. Therefore, the two void years should save the Cowboys $5.5 million in each of the deal’s four years. The counter to that is that the Cowboys would then have Prescott count $22 million against the cap in 2025, regardless of whether he is on the roster or not.

However, per Spotrac and Over the Cap, the initial signing bonus actually prorates over five years at $13.2 million per year. The second void year is then open for the Cowboys and Prescott to restructure his 2022 base salary. Therefore, as it stands, the Cowboys would have $13.2 million in dead money in 2025. However, that is set to increase as and when the restructure is done.

Dak Prescott has four years remaining on his contract

With Prescott about to hit free agency this offseason prior to the new contract, the deal is for the four years as advertised. As he was not due to be under contract in 2021, this deal keeps Prescott with the Cowboys until the 2024 season.

However, as previously mentioned, with the two void years in the deal, even if Prescott is not on the Cowboys roster in 2025, he will still count $13.2 million against their salary cap.

What impact does Dak Prescott’s contract have on the Dallas Cowboys’ salary cap?

Based on the report from Schefter and the numbers on Spotrac and Over the Cap, Prescott’s cap number in 2021 is $22.2 million. Schefter reports that the deal contains $75 million in the first year. If we remove the $66 million signing bonus, that leaves $9 million in salary and bonuses.

Combine that $9 million with the $13.2 million in prorated signing bonus, and we get to the $22.2 million figure. This is important for the Cowboys, who had just $25 million in salary cap space prior to signing the deal. Therefore, this deal for Prescott leaves the Cowboys heading into the 2021 NFL season with a small amount of salary cap space to spare.

What does this deal mean for the Cowboys in the future?

These details are correct as per Spotrac and Over the Cap.

The $126 million in guarantees takes Dak Prescott through the first three years of the deal. There appears to be no mechanism for more money to guarantee into the fourth season. However, the signing bonus proration makes it difficult for the Cowboys to release Prescott after three seasons.

Related | Top Dallas Cowboys’ pending free agents in 2021

If the Cowboys were to release Prescott in 2024, they would be left with $26.4 million in dead money. This is because the $13.2 million in prorated bonus in that first void year would accelerate onto the cap. Therefore, even with Prescott was due to count $47.2 million against the cap in 2024, it would be just a $20.8 million saving. That dead money number in 2024 will increase if the Cowboys restructure the base salary in 2022.

The cap and dead money numbers through the life of the contract are projected to be as follows:

  • 2021 – Cap number: $22.2 million; Dead money: $95.0 million
  • 2021 – Cap number: $33.2 million; Dead money: $72.8 million
  • 2021 – Cap number: $44.2 million; Dead money: $39.6 million
  • 2021 – Cap number: $47.2 million; Dead money: $26.4 million
  • 2025 – (Contract voids) Cap number: $13.2 million

Can the Cowboys trade Prescott?

Dak Prescott’s contract also reportedly contains a no-trade clause. However, even without that, it is difficult for the Cowboys to trade him. If the Cowboys were to trade Prescott, the remaining prorated bonus money would accelerate onto the salary cap in that year. Therefore, the Cowboys would have a huge dead money number if they were to trade Prescott.

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