Dak Prescott was left out of the Dallas Cowboys’ extension grab.
The Cowboys issued a handful of multiyear contracts to star players over the last year but couldn’t strike an agreement with their quarterback by Wednesday’s deadline, leaving Prescott to play on the franchise tag in 2020. He will make $31.4 million on a one-year contract after earning $2.7 million combined over his first four seasons.
Prescott, 26, turned down an offer with an average annual salary of $33 million-$35 million and more than $100 million guaranteed and late negotiations never picked up steam, according to NFL Network. If he plays on three straight franchise tags through 2022, Prescott will surpass those earnings, but he is risking injury or poor performance.
Prescott will be just the third quarterback ever to play on the tag, joining Drew Brees (2005 Chargers) and Kirk Cousins (2016 and 2017 Redskins). Because the Cowboys signed Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Jaylon Smith, La’El Collins and DeMarcus Lawrence to extensions, doubt looms whether owner/general manager Jerry Jones truly believes in the former fourth-round pick Prescott no matter what he says.
The deadline for tagged players to work out extensions or be forced to play on one-year deals was quieter than normal. Teams are limiting big investments with the uncertain amount of lost revenue ahead if the 2020 season is canceled, shortened or in a best-case scenario played with limited fans because of coronavirus restrictions.
Titans running back Derrick Henry beat the clock with a reported four-year, $50 million extension, including $25 million guaranteed over the first two years. The NFL’s leader in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns last season comes in fourth in average annual salary at his position, but far below Christian McCaffrey’s $16 million standard.
Henry, who would have been part of a remarkably deep free-agent running back class in 2021 if not tagged a second time, and Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (four years, $85 million) were the only tagged players who signed extensions this week.
Here are some other noteworthy tags with their 2020 salary:
DL Leonard Williams, Giants (TBD)
The Giants and Williams never came close on an extension, as previously reported by The Post. He filed a grievance to be paid as a defensive end ($17.7 million) rather than a defensive tackle ($16.1 million) but the arbitration hearing is delayed.
S Anthony Harris, Vikings ($9.8 million)
The Giants planned to pursue Harris if he reached free agency, a source told The Post, but didn’t give up interest when he was tagged at the 11th hour: Trade talks followed but Vikings weren’t going to “give him away,” according to NFL Network. The Giants ultimately drafted Xavier McKinney in the second round.
WR A.J. Green, Bengals ($17.8 million)
The eight-year veteran is coming off a career-low nine games in an injury-shortened season. His production has been declining since 2016 but Green’s return was prioritized once the Bengals determined they were drafting rookie quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick.
DE Yannick Ngakoue, Jaguars ($17.7 million)
Ngakoue is threatening to hold out if not traded. He would be willing to play on the tag for another team — extending the trade negotiation window beyond Wednesday — but the Jaguars turned down multiple offers, including one involving a Pro Bowler, according to NFL Network.
EDGE Shaq Barrett, Buccaneers (TBD)
After five unremarkable seasons with the Broncos, Barrett broke out with an NFL-high 19.5 sacks on a new team. Though he says he is happy on a one-year deal, Barrett is fighting for $17.7 million rather than $15.8 million for a linebacker. If he repeats his production, he should cash in big time in 2021.
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