The Cowboys’ 23-17 loss to the 49ers in the wild card playoff round as the NFC’s third seed ended in a nightmare. A 17-yard quarterback draw by Dak Prescott with 14 seconds remaining took too much time for Dallas to kill the clock to run a final play from San Francisco’s 24-yard line for a potential game-winning touchdown.

Fortunately for Dallas, another nightmare has been avoided because Prescott’s preference was a long-term deal rather than playing the 2021 season under a second franchise tag for $37,690,080. Prescott signed a four-year, $160 million contract worth up to $164 million through incentives in March. The deal has $126 million of guarantees, which includes a then-NFL record $95 million fully guaranteed at signing. Prescott’s $66 million signing bonus, which is part of the $95 million, is the largest in league history. 

Prescott became the NFL’s second-highest-paid player at $40 million per year with the deal behind only Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who received a 10-year, $450 million contract extension (worth up to $475 million with incentives) averaging $45 million per year from the Chiefs in 2020. He was subsequently passed for second place when Bills quarterback Josh Allen signed a six-year, $258 million extension (worth a maximum of $288 million through incentives) averaging $43 million per year in August. 

The last quarterback to embrace the franchise tag was Kirk Cousins. After playing under franchise tags for consecutive seasons with the Washington Football Team in 2016 and 2017, Cousins broke new ground by signing the NFL’s first lucrative fully guaranteed veteran contract with the Vikings in 2018 as an unrestricted free agent. Cousins’ three-year, $84 million deal, which made him the league’s highest-paid player at $28 million per year, was worth up to $90 million with incentives. He had regressed statistically in 2017 from the previous year and Washington…

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