Dak Prescott is changing the way we look at bet-on-yourself quarterback money. Not only did he pass on the Dallas Cowboys' contract overtures this summer but he took ownership of a run-heavy offense on the way to a potential 5,000-yard passing season. He has ditched the middle-of-the-road label and makes a reasonable case for top-10 QB status, which deepens the intrigue on an already captivating negotiation.
He checks proverbial boxes NFL teams care about: toughness, mobility, leadership, touch, poise, durability, command of the huddle and line of scrimmage, marketability. Even in his worst statistical game of the season, Sunday's 13-9 loss to the New England Patriots, Prescott might have been a few tripping calls and dropped passes from an MVP moment. The loss wasn't all on him. He made several impressive throws.
All of these things cost exorbitant amounts that will force Dallas into some sort of concession eventually. But this negotiation is only beginning. Multiple sources told ESPN that the Cowboys are prepared to use the franchise tag on Prescott in the absence of a long-term deal they very well might not reach by season's end.
Here's where the intrigue deepens: The gap between the money Prescott's leverage commands vs. what executives see as his real worth is fairly wide. With help from NFL executives, veteran agents and ESPN Stats & Information research, here's how this saga could play out -- and how the Cowboys might structure a long-term deal.
"He's going to get a huge contract," one league personnel evaluator said. "Everything is playing out perfectly for him. Timing is everything."