What Does The Future Hold For Dak Prescott & The Cowboys?

For the last half of the 2023 season, it was treated as a foregone conclusion that the Cowboys and QB Dak Prescott would hammer out a new deal before the start of free agency in March. Multiple NFL insiders reported as much, and it just made too much sense. Prescott was in the MVP race for most of last season, and an extension would have ensured stability for the Cowboys at the game’s most important position for several more years. It would have also added cap space for the Cowboys to try and get the roster over the hump in 2024. 

Dak Prescott

The only real question seemed to be how much Prescott would sign for, as he once again had enormous leverage. In addition to his $60 million 2024 cap hit, Prescott negotiated a no-tag and no-trade clause in his last deal, paving the way for him to leave and choose his next team in 2025 with Dallas getting nothing in return except the potential for a compensatory pick. It’s the same kind of leverage he had in 2021 when he signed his current deal after two straight franchise tags. 

But after the playoff flop to the Packers, the tone changed. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t yank the ripcord and start from scratch, but he didn’t give HC Mike McCarthy an extension either. Jones seems inclined to take the same approach with Prescott. Per a report from NFL Media, the two sides have a mutual understanding about his contract year and have not engaged in substantive negotiations. 

All of a sudden, the idea of Prescott leaving as a free agent in 2025 is far less farfetched than it was a few months ago. 

There’s still a long time between now and next March and a lot can happen. It’s not even a foregone conclusion that Prescott and the Cowboys won’t sign a new deal in the next several months. But at minimum, the door is cracked open. The 2025 quarterback carousel has its first big fish, and there will be no shortage of anglers trying to land Prescott if he’s available next spring. 

What Exactly Is Going On Between Dallas & Prescott? 

The natural question to ask is how the Cowboys and Prescott went from almost certainly negotiating a new deal this offseason to potentially playing out a walk year. The embarrassing playoff loss to the seventh-seeded Packers plays a role but it goes beyond that. 

Over the past three seasons, the Cowboys have the second-most victories of any team (trailing only the Chiefs) with three straight 12-win seasons under the leadership of McCarthy. Prescott’s record as the starter in that time is 31-14. In all three years, however, the Cowboys have failed to advance past the divisional round with just one playoff win in total. They’ve choked, playing some of their worst football when it mattered most. Prescott hasn’t been exempt from that. 

While Prescott is far from the biggest problem the Cowboys have, he hasn’t exactly been their solution, either. Prescott is a very good quarterback, arguably a top-ten player at his position depending on the year. But he occupies that nebulous space for an NFL quarterback between a truly elite player and someone who needs a quality supporting cast to thrive. The more cap space a team dedicates to its quarterback, the less it has for the supporting cast. 

That’s the context for how the Cowboys have handled Prescott’s contract so far. An extension this offseason likely would have required making him the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback at over $55 million a year given his considerable leverage coming off a career year and the other factors discussed above. That’s just the reality of the quarterback market. If the Cowboys didn’t have doubts about whether Prescott was worth that kind of money, a deal would already be done. 

There is some spin to sort through. After the report about the Cowboys not planning to extend Prescott before his contract year, Dallas pushed back via team sources to a few different places. The general gist was the Cowboys weren’t opposed to signing Prescott to a long-term deal this year, but left unsaid between the lines was that Prescott would have to accept a more team-friendly deal than he signed before. Jones has praised Prescott at every public opportunity, but in the end what speaks the loudest about how a team feels about a player is a check. 

It’s worth noting the Cowboys’ history of slow-playing negotiations with Prescott. The team made him play out his rookie contract and a franchise tag. Dallas tagged Prescott a second time in 2021 before finally buckling down and getting a deal, as tagging him a third time would have been impractical. The resulting four-year, $160 million deal made Prescott one of the game’s highest-paid quarterbacks, though his average annual salary has fallen outside the top ten at the position now. 

However, last time the Cowboys got the deal done with Prescott before he reached the precipice of free agency. This time if they wait another year, Prescott could have even more leverage than he had in 2021 or this offseason. Quarterback contracts don’t usually get cheaper with time. Prescott signed his current deal after a year in which he was limited to just five games due to a fractured ankle. Barring some sort of catastrophic injury or dropoff in play, the Cowboys won’t save money by waiting — it will probably be the opposite. 

Dallas can sign Prescott at any point over the next 11 or so months, but the longer they wait, the more competition they’re going to have. If Prescott is an unrestricted free agent in 2025, he will be in high demand. He’ll be turning 32 years old and at minimum should have five more years of peak production based on how we’ve seen quarterbacks age in the past decade.

Quarterback-needy teams would be lining up out the door to have a crack at him. The two forays veteran QB Kirk Cousins has made into free agency would be the floor outcome for Prescott as a free agent. 

Potential 2025 Destinations For Prescott

A lot can change in a year, but here’s a quick look at the teams that could be interested in signing Prescott as a free agent in 2025. It should be extensive because all it will cost is money, not draft picks, and the NFL collectively will be in its best salary cap health since well before the pandemic. 

Per Over The Cap, there are currently just five teams in the red in effective cap space in 2025. That’s while projecting a salary cap of $260 million — just $5 million more than the cap this year. The cap went from $224.8 million in 2023 to $255.4 million in 2024, a jump of more than $30 million. Even a jump of “just” $20 million in 2025 would leave teams with wads of cash to spend. 

With that in mind, the only major box to check at this point in the Prescott sweepstakes is a team that needs a quarterback in 2025. That also makes for a long list:

Early Frontrunners


If I were putting together odds for the team Prescott would start for in 2025, Dallas would still be the favorite. They have two major advantages on their side. The Cowboys have exclusive negotiating rights with Prescott for basically the next year, and they also have the home field advantage as the only team Prescott has played for in his career. It might not buy them much of a discount but that familiarity could be an important tiebreaker in the end. 


The Titans are building up around QB Will Levis this year to see what kind of potential he has. But if Levis falters, the Titans will still have ample cap space to pursue a veteran like Prescott and an offensive-minded head coach who could help sell Tennessee as a landing spot. 


Las Vegas is picking near the end of the line for a quarterback in this class and just has bridge options on the roster otherwise. If they can’t land a promising rookie option, Prescott would be a massive upgrade over Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell


Starting QB Aaron Rodgers has indicated he wants to play at least one more season. It’ll be interesting to see what the situation is for him and the Jets at the end of 2024, as this is a big season for everyone with the team and the 40-year-old Rodgers has flirted with retirement consistently over the past few years. If New York does need a new starting quarterback, they have over $60 million in effective cap space to pursue another veteran. 


Both Russell Wilson and Justin Fields are on expiring contracts. Pittsburgh could re-sign either depending on how the season goes — or they could strike out in a new direction entirely. The Steelers have more than $80 million in effective cap space in 2025, per OTC’s current projections. 

Young QB Strikeouts


The teams in this category are all looking hard at drafting a quarterback at the end of April, but at least one of these teams could be left standing without a seat when the music stops. That would defer things to 2025, at which point Prescott becomes an option. If the Giants don’t draft a player they’re confident in for the future, they can get out of Daniel Jones’ contract following this season. From there, it would be appealing to keep Prescott in the NFC East. 


Denver has far more cap flexibility in 2025 when the smaller half of Wilson’s dead cap hit is due to hit the books. OTC projects the Broncos with more than $60 million in effective cap space. If Broncos HC Sean Payton doesn’t find a quarterback he likes this year, he’ll have the money to go after Prescott. 


Like the Broncos, the Vikings will have a lot more cap flexibility in 2025. However, they’re far better positioned to trade up for a quarterback, which would obviously take them out of the running. 


More than likely, the Patriots will draft a potential franchise quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick. But if they elected to trade down and address other needs on the roster, they could be an option to make a run at Prescott in 2025 if they can build up the rest of the team. 



This would be bananas, but suppose the Jaguars or QB Trevor Lawrence get cold feet about a potential extension as Lawrence enters his fifth-year option season in 2025. That would put a trade on the table, and if Prescott is available as a free agent, that gives Jacksonville a potential alternative. 


If Bryce Young doesn’t improve substantially from an awful rookie season, the Panthers could be in the market for a new quarterback sooner rather than later. They might be more inclined to try free agency than the draft after spending so much draft capital to get Young. And after being burned by so many failures at the position the past several years, Prescott’s status as an established passer could be extra appealing.  


Incumbent QB Geno Smith will have one year and no guarantees remaining on his contract in 2025. Seattle traded for QB Sam Howell to give them a developmental option for the future and under GM John Schneider the Seahawks have trended toward cheaper options. Prescott would not be cheap and the Seahawks currently are one of the few teams in the red for 2025. Having said all of that, if they want Prescott, they can make it happen. 


The Rams are set at quarterback for as long as Matthew Stafford plays. If he decides to hang it up after the 2024 season, however, they could go big-game hunting again for a replacement. 


The Saints are heavily invested in QB Derek Carr, but there is an out in his deal in 2025 should he flop again in 2024. If the cap rises another $30 million, that could go a long way toward helping New Orleans dig out of its perpetual salary cap hole. Perhaps that opens the door to an aggressive pursuit for a replacement like Prescott.

Looking for the latest NFL Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow NFL Trade Rumors on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NFL News and Rumors for all 32 teams!

Leave a Reply