After a two-year saga, the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott agreed to a new contract in the 2021 offseason. 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.
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 received a $66 million signing bonus, with $126 million in guarantees. $95 million was 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 and contain all of the contract’s guaranteed money. Incentives in the deal can make it a $164 million deal when all is said and done.
Prescott’s contract has two void years in it
Two numbers are vital in terms of the years in Prescott’s 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.
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 were over a four-year period, the prorated money would be $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 the Cowboys would then have Prescott count $22 million against the cap in 2025, regardless of whether he is on the roster or not.
Nonetheless, 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. As it stands, the Cowboys would have $13.2 million in dead money in 2025. However, that would increase if a restructure were done.
Prescott has four years remaining on his contract
Prescott was about to hit free agency this offseason prior to the new contract, so the deal is for the four years as advertised. He was not due to be under contract in 2021, thus the deal keeps Prescott with the Cowboys until the 2024 season.
But 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 $14.5 million against their salary cap.
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What impact does Dak Prescott’s contract have on the Dallas Cowboys’ salary cap?
The Cowboys have already restructured Prescott’s contract once since it was signed. Just prior to the season, Dallas converted $6.5 million of base salary in 2021 into a signing bonus. That signing bonus prorates across the next five years of the deal at $1.3 million per year.
Therefore, Prescott’s salary cap number for 2021 is $17.2 million, $5 million less than it was before the restructure. However, his cap number in subsequent years has increased by $1.3 million per year.
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 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.
The restructure also changes the impact of the Cowboys potentially releasing Prescott in the future. Now, if they were to release him prior to the 2024 season, the dead money would be $28.9 million. That is $2.6 million higher than before the restructure.
If he were released before 2024, there would still be $14.45 million in prorated signing bonus remaining in the final year of the deal and the void year. If the release comes before June 1, the void year would accelerate onto the 2024 cap. However, a post-June 1 release from the Cowboys would have cap hits of $14.45 million in each of the final two seasons.
The cap and dead money numbers through the life of the contract are projected to be as follows:
- 2021 – Cap number: $17.2 million; Dead money: $95.0 million
- 2022 – Cap number: $34.5 million; Dead money: $77.8 million
- 2023 – Cap number: $45.5 million; Dead money: $43.4 million
- 2024 – Cap number: $48.5 million; Dead money: $28.9 million
- 2025 – (Contract voids) Cap number: $14.5 million
Can the Cowboys trade Prescott?
There is a no-trade clause reportedly in Prescott’s deal, limiting the Cowboys’ options. However, even without that, the prorated signing bonus money of $14.45 million per year means the Cowboys would take on significant dead money at any point of the contract with a trade.
If the Cowboys were to trade Prescott before June 1, here would be the dead money numbers in each of the years of his contract:
- 2022: $57.8 million
- 2023: $43.4 million
- 2024: $28.9 million