The NFL’s new league year begins on March 17th which means free agency is on the horizon. The start of free agency is almost like a rebirth. It does not matter what team you support. It does not matter what state that team was in the previous year. Last year doesn’t matter, and we’ve seen teams turn their program around in one offseason. That’s the beauty of free agency.
Even though it may seem that the Bears have been moving backward the last two years, we’re going to get up for the letdown. Over the next few weeks, the @BearsOnTap crew will be compiling a free agency wishlist. Every article in this series will have three criteria. First, what is the likelihood that the free agent will be extended or franchise tagged by their current team? Second, what kind of contract is the free agent going to demand and how will it fit into the Bears salary cap? Lastly, we’ll explore what kind of impact each player would have for the Bears.
Before we get started on Dak Prescott, check out the first installment of this wishlist in which we made the case for offensive lineman Brandon Scherff.
Recent reports have confirmed the Cowboys have yet to place Dak Prescott on the franchise tag. They have every intention to sign him to a long-term extension but that doesn't mean the deal will get done.
Last year Jerry Jones and the Cowboys shelled out a ton of money to everyone but Dak Prescott. The Cowboys and Prescott tried getting the deal done in 2020 but both parties were too far apart. Jerry Jones even made a few comments along the way that weren't accommodating.
It seems like Jerry Jones has been trying to drive down Dak Prescott's number in any way possible. Mobility is a standard for quarterbacks at this point and Jones knows that. Last year we even heard Jones make comments about how being a Dallas Cowboys quarterback will open doors in the future and insinuated that Dak should see it as a long-term financial investment. I'm not saying this hindered the negotiations, but it definitely didn't help them.
It's possible the Cowboys saw what their offense looked like without Prescott and decided that he was worth splurging for, but maybe they're just buying time. Franchise tagging Prescott again could make things go sour in Dallas. If a second franchise tag is used, the Cowboys will have zero leverage left. Kirk Cousins and Le'Veon Bell were both tagged twice and both players signed deals with new teams. If the Cowboys truly value Dak Prescott and see him as the future of the Cowboys, they won't let this get to a second franchise tag. If the Cowboys do tag Prescott a second time, trading for him becomes so much easier. Tag-and-trade scenarios drive the price tag way down, which would make it much more attainable for the Bears. The Cowboys also have the tenth overall pick and are in play to make a move for a top quarterback in this year's draft. It's crazy to think the Cowboys and Prescott could part ways, but we all thought Tom Brady was going to retire in New England.
The Bears are pressed against the salary cap but they can and would make room for Prescott if they could attain him. There is no doubt they would have to make some significant cuts this offseason and backload his contract in hopes there is a huge salary cap jump for 2021-2022. Many of the quarterback names thrown out this year come with significant salary cap hits along with significant draft capital. Dak only checks one of those boxes and it would give the Bears room to build around him with high draft picks in the coming years.
Selling Dak Prescott to the Bears fan base would be the easiest part of this equation. Prescott has continually developed since entering the NFL. His worst season is comparable to the best seasons in Chicago Bears' quarterback history. Prescott exploded during his senior season at Mississippi State and forced a run-first offense to start airing it out more. He threw for 4,902 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in his 2019 season. Last year he was on pace to beat all of those numbers before his devastating leg injury in Week 5. Prescott would be the best quarterback in Bears' franchise history before even throwing a pass.
Dak Prescott would be the franchise quarterback Bears fans have been longing for. On the surface, it looks like the Cowboys will extend Prescott before the deadline. But if they franchise tag him, all bets are off. Pursuing a long-term deal with Prescott would be a no-brainer if he becomes available for the Bears.