How much is Dak Prescott worth?
Dak Prescott’s contract saga has dominated headlines for more than a year. Yet, the Dallas Cowboy still hasn’t inked a long-term deal ahead of the 2020 NFL season.
In free agency, the Cowboys placed the exclusive franchise tag on the fifth-year quarterback, then doled out a five-year, $100 million contract extension to wide receiver Amari Cooper. That came one year after Dallas halted Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout during training camp and made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.
Prescott is reportedly seeking a deal on par with Russell Wilson’s top-dollar contract, at around $35 million per year.
Let’s examine Prescott’s production throughout his career and compare his desired contract with the salaries of the top quarterbacks in the league, to decide for ourselves if the Cowboys should finally pay up.
Top NFL quarterback salaries
|Quarterback||Yearly average salary||Total guaranteed money||Total value|
In April of 2019, Wilson became the highest-paid player in the NFL, when he signed a four-year, $140 million extension that keeps him in Seattle through the 2023 season.
The Super Bowl champion and seven-time Pro Bowler rightfully reset the market, but it’s expected Patrick Mahomes will again shake up the landscape, once he and the Chiefs negotiate an extension that could pay him an unprecedented $40 million annually.
Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, and Kirk Cousins make the most at quarterback on a per-year basis.
Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion and a six-time Pro Bowler. He also led the league in passing in 2014 and 2018.
Rodgers is a two-time NFL MVP, an eight-time Pro Bowler, and won the Super Bowl in 2011.
Prescott’s résumé doesn’t hold up to the three highest-paid quarterbacks — who have been in the NFL far longer — but when you look at the production from Goff and Cousins, Prescott isn’t far off.
The Rams drafted Goff with the first overall pick in 2016, the same year the Cowboys selected Prescott in the fourth round. Since then, Goff has been nominated to the Pro Bowl twice and lost in Super Bowl LIII to the Patriots.
In 2019, the Rams and Goff agreed to a four-year, $134-million extension, with an NFL record $110 million guaranteed. The following season, Goff’s performance dipped, and the Rams finished 9-7, third in the NFC West.
Cousins signed a two-year, $66 million extension with Minnesota in March. He joined the Vikings in 2018 on a guaranteed, three-year, $84-million contract and has made the Pro Bowl and the postseason once since. He is also 0-9 on Monday Night Football, the worst record in that prime-time slot.
Prescott's NFL résumé
|Year, record||Passing yards||Passing touchdowns||Interceptions||QB rating|
As a rookie, Prescott stepped in as the starter, when longtime Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffered a vertebral compression fracture in the preseason. Prescott excelled immediately, earned NFL Rookie of the Year, and was named to his first Pro Bowl, after he guided Dallas to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the Divisional Round, where he lost, 34-31, to Rodgers and the Packers.
The next season, Prescott’s performance dropped off a bit. His completion rate went from 67.8% to 62.9%, his interception total jumped to 13, and the Cowboys ended the season 9-7, as Elliott sat out six games on suspension.
In 2018, Prescott met Goff in the Divisional Round, where the Rams defeated the Cowboys, 30-22. Prescott connected on 20 of his 32 passes, for 266 yards and one touchdown, and rushed for another score. Goff completed 15 of 28 passes for 186 yards and failed to reach the end zone.
Prescott looked superior to Goff that game and for the entirety of the 2019 season. The Cowboys QB ranked second in the league in passing yards (4,902), behind Jameis Winston’s 5,109, and racked up 30 touchdown passes, fourth most in the NFL.
Passes thrown (2019)— America’s Team ✭ (@RoadToSix) May 4, 2020
626: Jared Goff
613: Tom Brady
607: Carson Wentz
596: Dak Prescott
Passing yards (2019)
4,902: Dak Prescott
4,638: Jared Goff
4,057: Tom Brady
4,039: Carson Wentz
Passing TDs (2019)
Goff ranked third in passing yards (4,638) but posted 22 passing TDs (16th) and committed the fourth-most interceptions (16). Seeing as Goff rakes in $33.5 million a year, Prescott has every reason to demand at least as much.
Another player from Prescott’s draft class, Carson Wentz, also collects a hefty sum for someone who has struggled through injuries and made the Pro Bowl once since the Eagles selected him with the No. 2 pick in 2016.
Wentz makes an average of $32 million a year and is guaranteed a whopping $107.8 million on his contract.
In 2019, Wentz ranked ninth in passing yards (4,039) and tied for the fifth-most touchdown passes (27). The Eagles barely beat out the Cowboys in the NFC East, with a 9-7 record, compared to Dallas’ 8-8 mark.
What is Dak’s worth?
With a .600 record as a starter and no major injuries during his NFL tenure, Prescott has proven himself a reliable quarterback. He hasn't attained the type of success Wilson, Roethlisberger, or Rodgers has (yet), but he's at least on par with — if not better than — Goff, Wentz, and Cousins.
With Mahomes presumed to haul in an average of $40 million a year and reset the market, Prescott should seek $35 million annually.
Still, he is probably worth something just more than $33.5 million, based on the current market, which is more than the $31.4 million he'd earn should he accept his current position under the exclusive franchise tag in 2020.