How Much is Dak Prescott Really Worth?
Dak Prescott has been in the headlines for quite sometime due to his future contract extension. While the Cowboys have offered Prescott a five year, 170 million dollar extension, Prescott has turned it down due to wanting 45 million dollars in his final season.
As of yesterday, Prescott will sign his 31 million dollar franchise tag for 2020 and is willing to wait out his contract negotiations. Many have become critical of Prescott and what his real worth is, including myself multiple times. Twitter will continue to laugh down on Prescott for a variety of reasons, but how much is Prescott really worth? Let's break this down.
One of the biggest traits when it comes to being a franchise quarterback is the ability to produce without key players, such as Carson Wentz last season leading the Eagles in the playoffs using random fans in the stands as receivers.
Since coming into the NFL in 2016, Prescott was blessed early when it comes to the team set around him with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and a young rookie named Ezekiel Elliott.
Throughout Prescott’s four seasons, Prescott has shown his ability to not lose his production with key players being injured. When losing star tackle, Tyron Smith for a total of ten games, the Cowboys still went 7-3. When Ezekiel Elliott had his questionable six-game suspension in 2017, the Cowboys were at 5-4 and were still able to finish at 9-7.
Throughout those six games, Prescott’s numbers remained similar as his yards per game only dropped from 211.6 to 194.6 but also having a massive decline in his QB rating. As defenses continued to add extra pressure onto the Cowboys passing game, Prescott was still a serviceable quarterback to a Cowboys team primarily led by a stellar defensive squad.
A big argument that has been made in question to Dak’s ability to be a top quarterback is by not needing a loaded offensive unit to produce. While Prescott and Elliott led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record in 2016, it should be noted that the Cowboys had one of the best supporting casts set around him.
When going into the 2018 season, the wide receiver position was shaky for the Cowboys, to say the least. With a core of Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and Michael Gallup, Prescott had issues with his offensive performance going into the trade deadline. The Cowboys realized Prescott’s need for help, acquiring Raiders WR Amari Cooper for a 2019 1st round pick, and that's all the Cowboys needed as a spark.
Before Cooper arrived, Prescott was averaging 183.1 yards per game and had an 8/4 TD/INT ratio while at 3-4. After the Cooper trade, Prescott was averaging 250.6 yards per game, had a 12/4 TD/INT ratio while finishing off the season on a 7-2 run, getting the Cowboys into the playoffs. While these numbers were never eye popping to many, Prescott’s ability as a field general was shown to be all the Cowboys needed in order for their defense to win games.
Now let's get into the numbers standpoint throughout his career. Throughout Prescott's first three seasons, it was shown time and time again that Prescott is statistically a mediocre quarterback being led by top 10 defenses. The Cowboys magical 13-3 run wasn’t due to Prescott’s arm, not even ranking in the upper half of the league in yards and touchdowns, but more due to the Cowboys allowing the fifth least amount of points per game.
In 2017, Prescott would finish 16th in passing yards, 14th in TD’s and rank behind Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, Josh Mccown, and Case Keenum in QB rating at 17th.
Diving into the 2018 season, Prescott’s numbers never seemed to increase, throwing for less yards than Case Keenum, Derek Carr, and Eli Manning, ranking 15th in passing yards, 16th in TD’s and ranking below Ryan Fitzpatrick in passer rating, at 14th. While a possible reason for Prescott’s mediocre numbers was due to being sacked 56 times, Prescott had very similar numbers in 2017 while only being sacked 32 times, ranking 14th in the league.
After putting up an impressive 2019 fantasy season, the only year Prescott becomes top five in yards and touchdowns is only when Cowboys can't finish above .500. Many will try to put the blame on Jason Garrett for not doing anything, but this is just an excuse for people not wanting to put the blame on Prescott’s ability.
The 2018 Cowboys were able to finish at 10-6 while ranking 22nd in supporting cast efficiency and 22nd in passing protection, but the 2019 Cowboys ranked 8th in supporting cast and 5th in passing protection, but could only finish 8-8?
Defense wasn't the main culprit by any means as the Cowboys had a top 12 defense all year. The main reason is simple-- Dak Prescott cannot show up.
Whether it's with his zero 4th quarter comebacks in 2019, ranking 31st in red zone completions going 10/21 inside the 10 yard line, there's a problem. When ranking below Ryan Fitzpatrick, Daniel Jones, Derek Carr, Sam Daronld, Jimmy Garappollo, Phillip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, and Jacoby Brissett, in red zone efficiency inside the 10 with a top eight receiver in Amari Cooper, a top three running back in Ezekiel Elliott, and a top 10 offensive line, it is difficult to make an argument to be paid like a top three quarterback when you cannot convert when needed. Many will try to use the argument “It was awful play calling” to defend this, but it only shows Prescott’s inability to read a defense.
When comparing Prescott’s career numbers on Pro Football Reference, Prescott’s comparison includes: Carson Wentz, Josh Freeman, Blake Bortles, Colin Kaepernick, and Jameis Winston…. and Prescott is demanding to become the highest paid QB in NFL history. While these comparisons are not what you would consider to be elite, Prescott is still a valuable piece for the Cowboys future. While still only 26, the Cowboys have been able to consistently win with Prescott under helm, whether it may be due to the defense carrying the entire team or not.
It will be tough to imagine Prescott getting that much money, but it's a smart strategy. Jerry Jones isn't getting any younger and he is hungry for another championship. Knowing Jones will almost do anything to get his ring, having Prescott set his price high could pay off as his original 170 million dollar deal is already an overvalue.
With Prescott’s strengths and flaws, there's no way to justify him being paid remotely anywhere close to 45 million dollars. The best comparison you can give right now to Prescott is a more mobile version of Jimmy Garappollo, who is being paid around 27 million per season. For any other NFL team right now, Prescott should only make around 25-29 million a season based on his stats and lack of playoff winning experience, but let's see if Jerry Jones is ready to cave in anytime soon.
Grab your popcorn and keep refreshing Cowboys twitter, you never know what will happen next.