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NFL insider nuggets about Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb deals, plus free agent LB option

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By: RJ Ochoa

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Chatter continues to swirl about pending Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb deals for the Dallas Cowboys.

The next week and change could dramatically impact the next few years of Dallas Cowboys football. With the new league year set to begin on Wednesday, March 13th and the legal tampering period opening two days prior, the Cowboys are in a position where they can pick a path at the fork in the road that they are facing.

One choice involves giving quarterback Dak Prescott an extension (one prediction sees him doing so to the tune of three years, averaging $60M per season). There are pros and cons to that.

Alternatively the Cowboys could choose to simply restructure Prescott, clear about $18M in salary cap space this year and put themselves in a position where they could lose him in 2025. That would be the case with Prescott on the final year of his current contract, one that does not allow him to have the franchise tag placed on him at the expiration of it. If Dallas goes the restructure path, Prescott is certain to hit the open market next year.

The past few weeks have offered plenty of time for idle hands and on Sunday morning they were at work again. ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler offered some nuggets that they gleaned from their time at the NFL Combine and the former noted that he is not assuming that a Prescott extension is a sure thing.

Will Dallas extend Prescott?

Graziano: I am not as convinced as a lot of people seem to be that a Dak Prescott extension in Dallas is a sure thing. His current 2024 cap number is $59.455 million, which is massive, and obviously an extension is the best way to reduce it. But Prescott has a large amount of leverage here, too, with one year left on his deal and a clause in his contract that prohibits the team from franchising him. Plus, he has never made things easy on the Cowboys when they’ve gone to him to talk new deals in the past.

If they can’t make headway in negotiations, the Cowboys could save about $18.5 million in cap space simply by converting Prescott’s 2024 salary into a signing bonus and doing so without adding any more void years to the three that are already on the deal (2025-27). The problem with that? It would result in the Cowboys carrying a cap charge of roughly $55 million for Prescott in 2025, when in this hypothetical scenario he could be playing for a different team.

A Prescott extension has felt like the most logical thing to happen this offseason, as noted by Graziano’s opening sentence. This is the case given how well he played last season, the monstrous cap hit that Dallas would risk carrying in 2025 for a player no longer on their team, Dak’s position as a leader within the locker room, so on and so forth.

But it appears that this fork in the road is potentially looking more appealing to the decision-makers at The Star. Consider the words of Jerry Jones himself from his sit-down on his bus this past week.

While it seems dire for the team to create cap space in order for Jones to follow through on his “all-in” offseason approach, he said the team can still have that approach without an extension for Prescott.

“We don’t need to, but we can if everybody wants to solve it,” Jones said. “You can get in and get on the same page and see if you can come to an agreement. If you can’t, what we have in place works. And so obviously, if you do it one way, you’ll be working through some of the other areas on the team in a different way, but you can’t really plan on that until you see when you’re there.”

“Absolutely,” he said when directly asked if he can be all-in without an extension. “You just have to adjust where you’re going and how you’re going all-in.”

While that could strike fear in some Dak Prescott supporters that there is a scenario where he is not the quarterback past 2024, Jones was confident in saying that Prescott remains in the team’s long-term future plans.

“No, I don’t fear that,” he said. “Every player you got has some time when his contract is up. You would walk around with the shakes if you feared it. You can’t because they all come up. They all can get hurt. They all can lose some talent, so all of that is not fear.”

This could all be Jones posturing, as the “all-in” line really was from the get go in a general sense, or it could be him negotiating through the public. The Cowboys have certainly been known to do that from time to time.

It is extremely uncommon for quarterbacks of Prescott’s stature to reach true free agency, but the Cowboys appear at least willing to consider a scenario in which they are open to that a year from now. Dak hitting the open market and returning to Dallas in 2025 is obviously one possible outcome, but given the rarity of this sort of thing it’s risky since an open market could offer the quarterback an opportunity to cash in in a way that Dallas might not be willing to match.

CeeDee Lamb may wind up in the same contract neighborhood as Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson

As noted, ESPN’s insiders dropped a number of nuggets and there were some non-Prescott ones worth munching on as well.

At present time, Dak is one of three major players on the team slated to enter the final year of his current contract with the team; CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons are the others. Parsons’ situation can be rectified rather quickly as Dallas can/will pick up his fifth-year option for 2025 (the value is just north of $25M, a value that is fully guaranteed once Dallas exercises it). They likely want to work on an extension this offseason as well, but the point is that there is more sand left in his hourglass.

Lamb, on the other hand, just played on his option year and while doing so literally had the most impressive statistical season that any wide receiver has ever had in franchise history. He set himself up as well as possible to sit down at the negotiating table this offseason, and as a result it is believed he is the only wideout capable of landing in the market of Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson, who will also likely get a new deal this offseason.

Graziano: If and when Jefferson signs his extension, it will bring some clarity to the top of the wide receiver market and affect other deals around the league. Dallas and CeeDee Lamb continue to talk about an extension, and if there’s a receiver out there who could land in Jefferson’s contractual neighborhood, Lamb is probably that guy. The Cowboys need cap space and could save more than $13 million if they extend Lamb. But there are so many receivers looking for deals and so many available in the draft (this year and seemingly every year now) that at some point you wonder if the market will cool again.

Jefferson surely figures to be a benchmark that will establish the temperature of the wide receiver market, but it will also likely serve as a copy-paste template for Dallas and more specifically for Lamb’s representation. It would behoove the Cowboys to beat Jefferson and the Vikings in terms of getting Lamb to sign an extension with them.

Finally the insiders threw in a name at the very end of their nugget dump that could make sense for the Cowboys in terms of free agent linebackers.

Dallas could be in the market for a linebacker after last season’s struggles at the position. Jordyn Brooks, a Dallas-area native and one of the top free agent linebackers, would be a good fit.

The Seattle Seahawks selected Brooks in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and he has been a fine player for them; however, they declined his fifth-year option last offseason. Our friends at Field Gulls noted then that Brooks was coming back from a knee injury and that the concern justified that decision. Brooks wound up playing 16 games for Seattle in 2023.

Originally posted on Blogging The Boys