With the offseason at a standstill due to, well, no football going on, we look back to Demarcus Lawrence and his $100 million deal he earned from the team. Five years and set up for life, who wouldn’t want that contract?
Not sure who wouldn’t want it, but the Cowboys know he’s not the last player that is ready to get their payday of a lifetime. Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Jaylon Smith, and Byron Jones highlight the list of players ready for a new contract.
The question is, will all of them get what they are asking for? Someone is bound to be left out, and it won’t be easy. This is a breakdown of the top players for the Cowboys and their worth to the team and possibly on the market by comparing other top paid salaries for the same position players. There are so many players coming up for contracts, the ones that are focused on are the ones with contracts ending in the year 2020.
DAK PRESCOTT – QUARTERBACK
Let’s start with the biggest name on the list in Dak Prescott. In 2019, he’s set to earn an incredible $2.02 million as the starting quarterback for the most valuable franchise in the NFL. A 2 time Pro Bowler, Prescott has 10,876 yards in 3 seasons as the starter, 67 touchdowns, and just 25 interceptions. Oh, and he’s made the playoffs twice in 2016 and 2018, winning a game against Seattle at home, so he has proven to be a solid starter in the NFL, but is he a top 5 QB in the league? Or is he even top 10? The simple question with so many different answers. One can make the argument that he is, in fact, a franchise QB, and if that’s the case, then we’ll see a contract in the range of $24-30 million comparable to 2019 salaries for Kirk Cousins ($29M), Matthew Stafford ($29.5M), Andrew Luck ($27.5M), and Derek Carr ($22.5M) according to spotrac.com.
Other quarterbacks to watch are Carson Wentz and Jared Goff who were drafted the same year and have had similar success. Goff and Prescott are the only two out of the group to reach play in the playoffs, with Wentz watching from the sideline during the Eagle’s Super Bowl run in 2017. Goff is the only one to reach the Super Bowl out of the 3, but skeptics say that Prescott and Goff are beneficiaries of the systems they are in, Goff being in a spread offense run inclusively by Sean McVay, and Prescott in a run dominant offense led by Zeke Elliot. All three QB’s are coming up on contract extensions, but who will get the most?
AMARI COOPER – WIDE RECEIVER
Amari Cooper was a revelation for the Cowboy’s offense, as he almost single-handedly turned the season around for the 3-5 team. Traded for a 1st round pick mid-season, Cooper ended the season with 1005 receiving yards and reached his 3rd Pro Bowl in his 4th season as a pro. He is due $13.9 million since the Cowboy’s exercised his 5th-year option, and will look to get a deal done before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Other top-paid wide receivers in 2019 according to spotrac.com include Antonio Brown ($16.7M), Odell Beckham ($18M), Mike Evans ($16.5M), and DeAndre Hopkins ($16.2M), so where the Cowboys decide to rank Cooper is yet to be seen, but only 24 years old with 3 Pro Bowl appearances under his belt, he has a great case to match any one of these numbers when it comes time to negotiations.
JAYLON SMITH – INSIDE LINEBACKER
One of the greatest comeback stories of all time, yes, of ALL TIME, Jaylon Smith has returned from nerve damage in his knee suffered in a bowl game at Notre Dame, and became one of the best linebackers in the NFL, helping lead the defense to a top 10 finish in scoring and yardage. Unable to play his rookie season due to extensive rehab, in the past two seasons he has not missed a game. Top paid inside linebackers according to spotrac.com includes C.J. Mosley ($17M), Kwon Alexander ($13.5M), Luke Kuechly ($12.36M), and Bobby Wagner ($10.75M).
Smith finished the season with a career-high 121 combined tackle and 82 solo tackles, had two forced fumbles and fumble recoveries, and returned a fumble for his first career touchdown. He is due $2.06 million in 2019, but he is worth much more than that. Jerry Jones and the front office took a chance on Smith in the 2nd round in 2016, and it has completely paid off, but now it’s time to pay Jaylon. Expect a contract in the range of $12-15 million for 4-6 years, locking him up in this defense for a long time.
BYRON JONES – CORNERBACK
Byron Jones is probably the second most interesting name on the list behind Jaylon Smith. When he was drafted out of UConn, he was moved to safety in a move the Cowboys thought maximized his potential, that is until Kris Richard came into town. Richard came in and convinced the team to move Jones back cornerback, his natural position coming out of college.
Ending the season as a top 8 cornerback in the NFL, he earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl, playing alongside Patrick Peterson, Kyle Fuller, and Darius Slay for the NFC. He allowed only 1 touchdown and had a career-high 14 passes defended for 2019. He’ll be looking for a contract in the range for $13-15 million per season, compared to Josh Norman ($15M), Xavier Rhodes ($14M), and Patrick Peterson ($14M) according to spotrac.com.
OTHER POSSIBLE CONTRACTS
Anthony Brown CB – He has been very good for being drafted in the 6th round, but has only been average at best. Expect the Cowboys to re-sign him to a short term team friendly deal.
Maliek Collins DT – Often hurt, Collins had tons of potential but never was able to put it together. With the depth at the position and newly drafted Trysten Hill, Collins is expected to be let go at the end of his contract.
La’el Collins RT – Once a top-ranked tackle at LSU, the young tackle started at guard and tackle for the Cowboys for the past 3 years. Unless he signs a team friendly deal in the range of $5-8M per year, we will see the last of Collins at the end of the season.
Sean Lee LB – The General’s career may be coming to an end on the field. He realized he needed to take a pay cut as he wasn’t the same player he was before. He was often injured, but as long as he can contribute at a cheap price, he’ll stay in town.
Kavon Frazier S – A career backup and special team player, Frazier is simply a depth piece. If he’s kept, then it’ll be a veteran minimum salary in favor of the Cowboys. He’s good run support, but not great in pass coverage.
Jeff Heath S – Heath has soured for most of the fan base, as his lack of speed in coverage has made him a liability in the secondary. The team likes him though, and that’s all that matters here. He could end up with a 2 yr extension worth $3-7 million before we know it.
Allen Hurns WR – Hurn’s 2018 season ended with a horrible ankle injury when catching a pass. With the signing of Randall Cobb, the Cowboys don’t have much faith in him fully recovering and being effective as he used to be. This could be the last season with the team for Hurns.
Featured photo: Ghetty Images