Cowboys use exclusive franchise tag on Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott doesn't yet have a long-term contract, but the Dallas Cowboys confirmed one key detail about him Monday: He's a franchise quarterback.

The Cowboys placed the exclusive franchise tag on Prescott at the start of the legal tampering period, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed of the situation, keeping the quarterback from entertaining other suitors and ensuring he'll be under team control for 2020. The team later made the news official, stating that the deal is worth around $33 million.

Prescott can play under the tag in 2020, making an average of the top five salaries at the quarterback position, but his future isn't entirely secure. The tag can also buy the Cowboys the time necessary to hammer out a long-term deal, something Dallas wasn't able to do with Prescott between the end of a disappointing 2019 season and the start of the new league year.

Dallas also hasn't been able to strike a long-term deal with Amari Cooper, who was a candidate for the tag if the Cowboys were able to work out a contract with Prescott. Instead, Dallas will have a short amount of time to work something out with Cooper before he can start entertaining other offers from interested teams. As the premier receiver on the free-agent market, Cooper will have plenty to consider if the Cowboys can't get a deal done before Wednesday's start of the new league year -- and perhaps even before the negotiation window opens Monday.

As for Prescott, he might be wise to ride out the tag for 2020 because while it is a health-related risk, he could become the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in 2021 if he waits until after Patrick Mahomes signs his new deal. Dallas would be wise to attempt to secure Prescott's services well before that happens, though the two sides could find themselves in a stalemate of sorts until then if they can't get on the same page before the start of the 2020 season.

In the meantime, the Cowboys are retaining a quarterback who posted the second best passer rating of his career (99.7) in 2019 and finished with nearly 5,000 passing yards and recorded a 30-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Those who needed Prescott to prove to them he was capable of being a franchise quarterback essentially had their question answered in 2019. Now it's up to Dallas to keep that quarterback for years to come. For now, he'll be there for at least one more season.

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