The Dallas Cowboys placed the exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Dak Prescott before Monday’s deadline and before the NFL’s free agency tampering period begins, according to reports.
The two sides have been working on a long-term contract that will make Prescott one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league, but the move buys Dallas time. If Prescott plays next season on the tag, he would count for $31.5 million against the Cowboys’ salary cap.
The 26-year-old was a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft and is now in line for his first big payday after playing out his rookie contract.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s four-year, $128 million contract extension signed last year will be one of the benchmarks Prescott can use during negotiations.
Last season Prescott threw 30 touchdown passes and completed 65% of his passes as the Cowboys finished second in the NFC East with an 8-8 record. The exclusive tag prevents Prescott from being able to talk to other teams as the tampering period resumes.
Dallas’ work wasn’t done there, though. Monday evening, the team reportedly re-signed wide receiver Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100 million contract. Cooper’s nine-figure deal, reported by ESPN, will likely be highest total value for a receiver in the NFL, topping Saints wideout Michael Thomas’ five-year, $96 million contract extension signed last offseason.
The Cowboys chose Prescott and Cooper over cornerback Byron Jones, who signed with the Dolphins for a hefty sum. The Eagles were in the running for the 2018 Pro Bowler, but were outbid by Miami’s five-year, $82.5 million offer.
The Cowboys will have roughly $17 million in cap space with Prescott’s tag and Cooper’s new salary on the books.
The safety market lost one of its top free agents Monday when the Minnesota Vikings placed the franchise tag on free safety Anthony Harris.
Harris was Pro Football Focus’ No. 8 free agent overall and the best safety looking for a new contract this week. Harris will now count for roughly $11 million against the salary cap if he plays out the season on the tag.
Minnesota could also be placing the tag on Harris in order to trade him. The team already has All-Pro safety Harrison Smith making $10.75 million per year.
Both the Eagles and Malcolm Jenkins will certainly be keeping an eye on what happens with Harris, as the Eagles safety is seeking a new deal and will be looking at the top earners at his position for reference. Jenkins is set to make roughly $7.85 million in the final year of his contract but said he wouldn’t play next season under those terms.
Adding to Jenkins’ reference points, the New England Patriots signed safety Devin McCourty to a two-year, $23 million contract with $17 million guaranteed.
Austin Hooper became the highest-paid tight end in annual value in the NFL, reportedly agreeing to a market-setting contract with the Cleveland Browns worth $10.5 million per year.
Hooper, a 25-year-old who spent his first four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns last year. His contract has $23 million guaranteed in the first two years.
Zach Ertz, who has two years left on his contract, may be comparing figures soon. The Eagles tight end had $21 million in guaranteed money when he signed a contract extension in 2016. His deal averages $8.5 million per year and will be up for restructuring soon if the Eagles want to extend him.