The Dallas Cowboys have made magic happen for the fans and have locked running back Ezekiel Elliott up with a six-year, $90 million contract. He is set to remain with America's Team for the next eight years due to having two left on his rookie deal, and will be tasked with driving this offense on a weekly basis. With the negotiations over, Zeke can simply focus on remaining healthy and learning Kellen Moore's offensive scheme. The Cowboys front office, on the other hand, now has to turn the attention to the final two contract extensions that must be handled.
So far, the Cowboys have locked up defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (five years, $105 million), linebacker Jaylon Smith (six years, $68.4 million), tackle La'el Collins (five years, $50 million), and Elliott. The top priorities remaining are for quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and cornerback Byron Jones. Although Prescott and Cooper will be the primary focus due to their importance to the offense.
The aspect that will make the upcoming negotiations difficult is that owner Jerry Jones and his staff have already handed out $313 million as part of the aforementioned deals. This will make the "pie" that Jones mentioned much smaller and could ultimately cause some problems considering that both Prescott and Cooper want to be paid like the superstars at their respective positions.
For the former Oakland Raiders wide receiver that was acquired by trade, this could be easier to achieve. Cooper transformed the Cowboys offense during the 2018 season and helped America's Team capture the NFC East crown. In a single game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Cooper accounted for three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. He has quickly become Prescott's favorite target and will want to be paid as such.
Currently, the top wide receivers in the NFL – ranked by average annual salary – are Michael Thomas ($19.25 million), Odell Beckham Jr. ($18 million), Antonio Brown ($16.7 million), Mike Evans ($16.5 million), Brandin Cooks ($16.2 million), and DeAndre Hopkins ($16.2 million). In terms of production, Cooper's three 1,000-yard seasons and 25 touchdowns should make him one of the highest-paid players at his position, but the Cowboys may not shell out top dollar due to inconsistent play during his tenure with the Raiders.
At this point, Cooper could earn a contract around the same average salary as Cooks. The Rams star has played one more year than Cooper but has very similar numbers with 14.3 yards-per-reception, 5,147 yards, and 32 touchdowns. Cooks is a reliable receiver, but he is not often discussed as the top player at his position. Cooper fits this description as well and could be in line for a deal that would pay $16-17 million. Although whether he would accept this salary remains to be seen.
Prescott, on the other hand, is in line for a massive payday. He was already searching for a deal that would pay him around $35 million annually, but now that number may have gone up considering recent developments in the league. Tuesday night, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff signed a four-year extension worth $134 million. This deal, which included a record-setting $110 million guaranteed, drives the former number one overall pick's salary north of $30 million.
Why this matters is that Goff and Prescott both entered the league in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Rams star was the first overall pick by former head coach Jeff Fisher while Prescott landed with the Cowboys in the fourth round. In his career as a starter, Goff has led his team to the playoffs twice, including an appearance in Super Bowl LIII. Prescott, on the other hand, has also taken his team to the playoffs twice but fell to the Rams during the 2018 NFC Divisional Game.
Goff has had slightly more success in the playoffs, but Prescott has been more effective in terms of statistics. Goff has thrown for 9,581 yards with 65 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Prescott has thrown for 10,876 yards with 67 touchdowns and 25 touchdowns. He has also piled up 944 rushing yards and 18 scores on the ground while Goff has a mere 175 yards and four touchdowns.
Now, there is one elephant that must be addressed. Goff did not start all 16 games during his rookie season. He sat behind starter Case Keenum for the first nine games before ultimately taking his first start. Additionally, this first year was played under the Jeff Fisher regime, which was known for struggling offenses and overall mediocrity. Since pairing with head coach Sean McVay, Goff has boosted his completion percentage from the mid-50s up into the 60s and has increased his yards-per-attempt every season. His career is clearly on the rise while Prescott has maintained a consistent level of production throughout his first three seasons.0comments
At this point in their young careers, is Prescott worth more than the $32 million annually that Goff will be pulling in as part of his extension? The answer can only be provided by the Dallas Cowboys. If they truly believe that Prescott is the man to lead this team to the Promised Land, they will open up the checkbook and make him a very wealthy man. It's possible that Prescott's deal reaches $35 million annually with more than $100 million guaranteed.
No matter what happens, however, the fact remains that the Cowboys are likely to hand out half a billion dollars in contract extensions in one offseason alone. That's a jaw-dropping amount of money for six contracts.