Cowboys Give Prescott $164 Million, But Dallas Remains Outside of Top 12 Super Bowl Contenders

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

FILE – In this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 file photo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott drops back to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Arlington, Texas. Applying franchise and even transition tags to players can have major ramifications on a team’s present and future. That was never more of a consideration than this year, with the salary cap decreasing by, for now, $18 million. That’s the first time the cap has gone down, which is due to lost revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)
  • The Dallas Cowboys signed QB Dak Prescott to a four-year, $160-million contract, avoiding free agency
  • Despite the deal, the Cowboys are 13th on the Super Bowl 56 odds
  • See the rest of the field, and whether or not it’s worth betting the Cowboys at this price

One of the biggest QB questions of the 2021 off-season was answered on Monday night when Dak Prescott re-signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s a four-year deal worth $160-million, as Jerry Jones is able to keep the best quarterback in the NFC East.

But despite avoiding a potentially disastrous divorce, the Cowboys are still on the outside looking in when it comes to the Super Bowl picture. But is that about to change?

Super Bowl 56 Odds

Team Odds
Kansas City Chiefs +526
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +580
Green Bay Packers +1100
Buffalo Bills +1200
Baltimore Ravens +1300
Los Angeles Rams +1300
San Francisco 49ers +1500
Cleveland Browns +2000
New Orleans Saints +2000
Indianapolis Colts +2200
Miami Dolphins +2500
Seattle Seahawks +2500
Dallas Cowboys +2800
Tennessee Titans +2800
Los Angeles Chargers +3000
Pittsburgh Steelers +3000

Odds as of March 8th from DraftKings

It’s been a rocky road for the Cowboys when it comes to the Super Bowl 56 odds. Since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, Dallas has been firmly outside the top 12, never better than +2500.

While retaining Prescott goes a long way for the on-field product in theory, the sportsbooks still have questions. Namely what the rest of the Cowboys roster will look like.

Immediate Cap Questions Face Cowboys

Looking at Prescott’s free agency odds, it was highly unlikely he would be leaving Dallas. The question was how much it would cost though, with everyone assuming the same answer: a lot.

Before announcing the deal, Spotrac listed the Cowboys with just under $26-million in cap space. While specifics have yet to be announced, the deal likely saps Dallas of all of that cash, with the contract averaging $40-million a year.

Dallas has heavily invested on the offensive side of the ball. Before Dak, they had six cap hits over $10-million entering the 2021 season. Five were on offense.

Cowboys $10+ Million Cap Hits

Player Position Cap Hit per Spotrac
DeMarcus Lawrence DE $25,000,000
Amari Cooper WR $22,000,000
Zack Martin G $17,018,000
Tyron Smith LT $14,025,000
Ezekiel Elliott RB $13,700,000
La’el Collins RT $12,050,000

In a perfect world, the Cowboys would prioritize restructures over releases. With Dak coming off of a significant injury in 2020, the investments on the offensive line seems untouchable. It’s also tough to see them moving on from Cooper or Elliott, with a hefty dead cap hit due if they move either.

Dallas struggled on the defensive side of the ball in 2020, and while they may put up plenty of points, their ability to get stops could determine their viability as a contender.

Dallas Must Hit on Defensive Moves

With Dan Quinn coming in on defense, there’s a chance he could bring in some familiar faces from his time in Atlanta. But they’ll have to come at a discount.

There are a lot of holes on the back end though. Dallas allowed the 13th-most pass plays of 20+ yards and their 11 plays of 40+ yards was one off of a tie for first.

While their pass defense was bad, their run defense was worse.

The Cowboys gave up the second-most first down runs, and third-most rushes of 20+ yards. At linebacker Jaylon Smith regressed in 2020, and Leighton Vander Esch has struggled to stay healthy the past two seasons. They’ll be going young at defensive tackle in 2021 too, so Dallas is banking on internal improvement.

Bringing Back Dak Not Enough for Cowboys

No one will tell you that bringing back Dak Prescott was the wrong move. It had to be done without question.

But it’s not enough to put them in the Super Bowl picture.

NBC identified Dallas’ top off-season priorities. In order of importance, they were Safety, Corner (outside and slot), Defensive Tackle and Linebacker. Unless something drastically changes for the Cowboys, they remain the smart pick to win the NFC East, but aren’t worth early Super Bowl money.

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