Prescott, Cowboys helping justify Eagles’ decision

In the offseason, when the Philadelphia Eagles were mulling their contract extension options with starting quarterback Carson Wentz, a looming negotiation for a division rival helped spur the franchise to get their own centerpiece under a long-term deal sooner than later.

Now we know why.

Dak Prescott’s negotiation with the Dallas Cowboys was likely to start in a bad place. (Maybe even as high as $40 million per season, according to a recent report.) And the last thing the Eagles wanted to do was let the Cowboys and Prescott set the track for Wentz’s negotiation. So they flipped the tables.

“That played a part in getting Carson’s deal done early,” a league source told Yahoo Sports. “It was a priority [for the franchise] anyway, but not knowing if Dallas would just completely cave in with Dak and do something stupid definitely entered into the conversation.”

Eagles QB Carson Wentz (L) got a $128 million extension through 2024. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is reportedly aiming higher than that in terms of dollars. (Getty Images)

Eagles QB Carson Wentz (L) got a $128 million extension through 2024. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is reportedly aiming higher than that in terms of dollars. (Getty Images)

Eagles QB Carson Wentz (L) got a $128 million extension through 2024. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is reportedly aiming higher than that in terms of dollars. (Getty Images)

The analysis for the Eagles became simple: The franchise believed in Wentz as an anchor. And it was better to get an extension done two years early at numbers that made sense for both sides than wait for the Cowboys to throw the quarterback market into chaos.

Prescott’s dragging negotiation with Dallas (and the reality that it could get ugly) is why Wentz’s four-year, $128 million extension was finalized in June, locking up the Eagles’ starting quarterback through 2024. All while Dallas is still sitting without a deal with Prescott, and looking more likely to use the franchise tag on him with each passing week.

For the Cowboys, there’s no longer any doubt about whether this negotiation has reached choppy waters. Multiple reports have already pegged Prescott’s camp having turned down $30 million per season and the NFL Network has reported that Prescott’s starting point is an annual salary of $40 million. A second league source familiar with the Cowboys negotiations said the ultimate goal of the quarterback’s representation is exceeding an extension similar to the one signed by the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, who signed a four-year, $140 million deal in April. Such a deal would top Wilson’s $35 million annual salary as the highest paid player in the NFL.

Those numbers might help bring into focus a comment made by Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, who told Dallas radio station 1310 The Ticket in July the team “damn sure” wouldn’t be a market-setter when it came to deals. Multiple sources have told Yahoo Sports that Jones has stood as the tone-setter in the negotiations for all of Dallas’ elite level deals that have been discussed this offseason – from defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who signed an extension in April, to Prescott, wideout Amari Cooper and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Until this week’s Prescott revelations, Elliott’s negotiations had been the most prickly affair, with the running back’s camp going as far as informing the team that he would skip regular-season games without a new deal. Now it appears both Prescott and Elliott are seeking top-of-the-market deals, with Cooper apparently waiting to see how the current Julio Jones extension talks shake out with the Atlanta Falcons.

“We’ve got three really good football players that we’re dealing with here and that have very good representation,” Stephen Jones told 1310 The Ticket in July. “And they want to see the market. We can’t push the issue unless we want to be a market-setter. And we’re damn sure not going to be a market-setter, because of all the things that go with being a Dallas Cowboy.

“We want to be fair. We want our players to feel good about their contract. But at the same time, we don’t want to do things that are out of line because we can’t afford to do it that way.

“Whether it’s Dak, whether it’s Amari, whether it’s Zeke, they all understand we’ve got a whole group of young players coming up behind them that want to be Dallas Cowboys and want to stay here. When we save money, whether it’s with Dak, whether it’s with Zeke, whether it’s with Amari, it’s not saving Jerry [Jones] and I a dollar. It’s just money that’s going to go to another player.”

Time will tell if that hard line stance holds for Jones and the Cowboys. But it’s clear the Eagles weren’t waiting to let Dallas set the tone of their negotiations. Instead, Philadelphia turned the tables and added one more layer to this rivalry moving forward.

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