Dak Prescott is Scheduled to Make Less Than 2019 NFL Rookie Quarterbacks
There's been a lot of talk about whether or not former Haughton Buccaneer Dak Prescott should get a large contract extension from the Dallas Cowboys. The current estimation is that a new deal for Dak will net him about $34 million a season.
The figure being floated, $34 million per year, seems a little high on the surface, but it's more of a frame-of-reference issue than anything. Hearing $34 million a year compared to contracts like Cam Newton's $20 million a year contract, or Matt Ryan's $30 million a year deal makes $34 million a season seem out of sync. But Forbes helps explain why it's actually not that weird:
"Quarterback contracts have exploded at an incredible pace. In June 2017, Oakland’s Derek Carr became the first player in NFL history with a contract averaging $25 million per season. Now, he’s just ninth on the list.
In 2015, only two quarterbacks had salaries that averaged at least $20 million: New Orleans’ Drew Brees ($23.8 million) and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers ($21.2 million). In 2019, 15 quarterbacks will have cap charges of more than $20 million, led by Detroit’s Matthew Stafford at $29.5 million.
In 2015, the salary cap was $143.28 million. For 2019, the cap is $188.2 million. That’s an increase of 31.4 percent. Meanwhile, the average of the 20 highest-paid quarterbacks in 2015 was $15.2 million. Today, it’s $23.0 million. That’s an increase of 51.3 percent."
So with the salary cap continuing to expand, all contracts will be moving up. The quarterbacks are still going to be the highest paid, which means $34 million a year won't seem crazy in 2021 as it does in 2019. We really need to reference FUTURE contracts, not past contracts. Just look at this year's rookies.
Players that were JUST DRAFTED in 2019, who have never played in an NFL game, are scheduled to make more in 2019 than Dak Prescott. Players like Clayton Thorson, Easton Stick, Jarrett Stidham, Ryan Finley, Will Grier, and Drew Lock will all make more in 2019, unless Dak gets a new deal. Dak is set to make $680,000 for the 2019 year, and the rookies listed above are scheduled to make more than $699,000 for 2019.
The elevated quarterback salaries aren't just for the top, it will be for all quarterbacks moving forward.
What we should ultimately be looking at is "Fully Guaranteed" money. You can look at the average yearly numbers, and get really lost, but when you see the numbers that the player will absolutely get, things make more sense. At the top of the guaranteed list, you have names like Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Russel Wilson, and Matt Stafford. There are some odd names like Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz up there too, but Cousins was on the open-market when signed, and Wentz is a very long-term deal, both circumstances influence that money.
This situation shouldn't be framed as "does Dak deserve this contract" but more about what this contract will look like 3 years down the road.