The Dallas Cowboys waited until approval was announced for the new collective bargaining agreement to place their exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Dak Prescott on Monday morning, though they did not have to. Prescott was never going to go anywhere.
By using their exclusive tag on him, the Cowboys secured Prescott’s rights and prevented any other team from negotiating with him.
Prescott received the exclusive franchise tag worth around $33 million. The Cowboys could have used the non-exclusive tag of $28 million. But by giving Prescott a contract that bears similarity to the top-five quarterback salaries in the NFL, the Cowboys will be the only team that can negotiate a long-term deal with him. Had the Cowboys only used the non-exclusive tag, other teams could have still signed Prescott to an offer sheet.
By choosing to use the exclusive franchise tag, the Cowboys make Prescott the first quarterback since Kirk Cousins in 2017 to receive the exclusive franchise tag.
If the CBA was not approved, teams could have used their franchise and transition tags in 2020. For Dallas, this arrangement would have allowed them to use their franchise tag on Prescott and their transition tag on wide receiver Amari Cooper. Prescott always took precedence, though. If the Cowboys could not make an agreement with their franchise QB, which appeared to be more and more likely, the franchise tag is the best way for both parties to buy themselves a year before figuring out a more long-term deal. Dallas gets to keep its quarterback and Prescott will certainly be paid a lot.
Circulating reports suggested that Prescott was demanding a shorter (preferably four-year contract) that would allow him to cash in sooner rather than later. Dallas wants to lock Prescott in for the foreseeable future though, making him a permanent face of the franchise.
Of course, the 26-year-old quarterback, though successful, has yet to win a Super Bowl. But he is coming off a career season in which he recorded 4,902 passing yards and 30 touchdowns.
With the franchise tag placed on Prescott, Cooper will be able to explore the free agent market. Dallas, though, will aggressively try to keep him on its roster.