Dak Prescott and 7 Other NFL Players Whose Contracts Need to Be Redone in 2020

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2020

Dak Prescott and 7 Other NFL Players Whose Contracts Need to Be Redone in 2020

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    One interesting aspect of last year's NFL offseason was the fact that it saw a couple of blockbuster trades at the tail end. The Houston Texans dealt Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks and acquired Laremy Tunsil from the Miami Dolphins.

    Both deals were struck, at least in part, because Clowney and Tunsil were due to receive hefty new paydays. Clowney played on the franchise tag in 2019 and remains a free agent this offseason. Tunsil just signed a three-year, $66 million extension. Houston and Miami avoided the potential contract drama involved with Clowney and Tunsil, respectively.

    This is precisely why trade buzz surrounds New York Jets safety Jamal Adams. The three-year veteran is eligible for a new deal and wants one. If the Jets hope to avoid a holdout or other contract drama, they may need to acquiesce to his wishes or pull the trigger on a trade.

    We'll dig into Adams' situation and seven others that need to be resolved in 2020 to prevent potentially ugly negotiations this season or in the near future.

Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Adams, a two-time Pro Bowler, continues to be linked to the Dallas Cowboys amid tense contract talks with New York.

    "League sources familiar with the Cowboys, Adams and his team, the New York Jets, framed the contract gridlock surrounding the star safety on Friday, painting the picture of a frustrating stalemate that could ultimately be resolved through a hefty trade offer," Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported.

    Adams is looking for the long-term financial security his rookie contract doesn't currently provide—understandable since his father, George Adams, had a promising NFL career derailed by a dislocated hip. The problem is that the Jets don't have to grant him a new contract for at least two more seasons—longer if they utilize the franchise tag.

    The Jets and Adams could be on a collision course, giving teams like Dallas hope that they can pluck him away.

    For the Jets, it makes all the sense in the world to get a new deal done soon. Adams is one of the franchise's few home run draft picks of recent years, and moving him does little to bolster its long-term prospects.

    In the short term, a new deal shouldn't be terribly costly. Adams is set to earn nearly $9.9 million next season on the fifth-year option.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott did not turn down a five-year, $175 million contract offer—as was reported by NBC Sports' Chris Simms. Whether Prescott turned down a deal is far less relevant than the fact that he is not currently under contract.

    The Cowboys gave Prescott the franchise tag to prevent him from reaching free agency. Prescott has not signed his tender yet, and if he doesn't do so by July 15, he won't be able to negotiate a long-term deal this season.

    This places the Cowboys on a clock because they don't want to play year-to-year tag games with their quarterback. A similar situation played out for the rival Washington Redskins, who paid Kirk Cousins a boatload of guaranteed money, only to watch him leave in free agency anyway.

    Dallas also cannot afford to risk a potential Prescott holdout in 2020 either. While the Cowboys did sign veteran Andy Dalton this offseason, he isn't the same young, dynamic signal-caller as Prescott, who passed for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns last season.

    Could the Cowboys be competitive with Dalton under center? Probably, but they likely wouldn't be the title contender they hope to be under new head coach Mike McCarthy. Prescott is the most important player on Dallas' roster, and the Cowboys are risking a lot by not having a long-term deal done already. They need to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson won't be in a franchise-tag situation for at least another two years. However, it would behoove the Texans to get a long-term deal done before a) Watson decides he isn't happy with the 2021 fifth-year option or b) the price tag for quarterbacks gets out of hand.

    The second scenario is inevitable, and Watson is likely to play a role. According to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson, Watson's next contract could pay him upward of $42 million per year. Russell Wilson is currently the league's highest-paid quarterback at $35 million per season.

    If Houston waits two more years to secure a deal, the going rate for a Pro Bowl quarterback might be $50 million. Even waiting until the offseason could cost the Texans millions in long-term money.

    And by next offseason, Watson may decide he isn't going to play for $17.5 million in 2021. This could lead to a contract standoff in which Houston has little leverage.

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is going to reset the market whenever he signs a new contract. In just three years—and only two as a starter—Mahomes has delivered the Lombardi Trophy to the Chiefs faithful, been named NFL MVP and taken home Super Bowl MVP honors.

    If Watson is worth $42 million a year, Mahomes should have no trouble asking for $45 million or more with a straight face.

    Kansas City should finalize an extension with Mahomes as quickly as possible. Ideally, it would get a deal done before the Texans and Watson, though their situation may be somewhat irrelevant.

    "Several league execs I spoke to believe that Watson will be the next quarterback in line for that megaextension, even before Patrick Mahomes because Mahomes is sort of in his own stratosphere with all of his accomplishments," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said on SportsCenter (h/t Bleacher Report's Adam Wells).

    Mahomes isn't likely to point to the deals of Watson and Prescott as a base for negotiations. However, the going rate for an elite quarterback rises with each passing day, as does the value of Mahomes' eventual league-record deal.

Jalen Ramsey, CB, Los Angeles Rams

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    When the Los Angeles Rams jumped at the chance to trade for Jalen Ramsey before October's trade deadline, the move drew few critics. Ramsey, a three-time Pro Bowler, might be the best cover corner in the game, and he instantly became one of L.A.'s most valuable defenders.

    "What's awesome about him is he can play anywhere. He can play outside or inside or safety. So we can move him around if we need to," defensive coordinator Brandon Staley told reporters.

    Ramsey is also entering the final year of his rookie contract, which could lead to a contract dispute in the not-too-distant future. If the Rams use the franchise tag to prevent Ramsey from reaching 2021 free agency, he could decide that a holdout is in order.

    ESPN's Adam Schefter reported in October that Ramsey made a promise not to hold out this offseason. That agreement does not cover next offseason.

    "Ramsey told the Rams, however, that if the sides are unable to reach an agreement on a long-term deal and Los Angeles then uses its franchise tag on him in the winter of 2021, all bets are off and he could hold out, according to sources," Schefter wrote.

    The Rams surrendered two first-round picks to get Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars, so he is presumably in their long-term plans. There is virtually no reason not to grant an extension, thus avoiding any potential holdout.

Trent Williams, OT, San Francisco 49ers

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    Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers didn't give up a pair of first-round picks to acquire Trent Williams from the Redskins—they only surrendered a fifth-round pick and a 2021 third-rounder. However, this doesn't mean San Francisco can let Williams walk away next offseason.

    Like Ramsey, Williams is scheduled to be a free agent in 2021. This potentially puts the 49ers in a tough spot because they are counting on Williams to be their new anchor at left tackle. They acquired him to replace longtime left tackle Joe Staley—and he could even be an upgrade.

    "Joe Staley is a really good tackle. Don't get me wrong," former 49ers and Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. "But he ain't Trent Williams."

    If San Francisco hopes to be a title contender for the foreseeable future, it cannot play virtual chicken with Williams and the franchise tag next offseason. The problem is that if Williams proves to still be a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle, the 49ers will have little leverage with which to negotiate.

    It makes sense for the 49ers to get an extension done as soon as they know for sure that Williams—who held out all of last season—is still capable of being a high-end starter. That would be at some point in 2020.

Brandon Scherff, OG, Washington Redskins

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Washington may have already traded away Williams, but it cannot afford to lose another Pro Bowl talent in guard Brandon Scherff. The three-time Pro Bowler was given the franchise tag this offseason, but the Redskins tried to ink him to a long-term deal last offseason.

    At the time, 106.7 The Fan's Erin Hawksworth reported (h/t Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports Washington) that the two sides were "far apart."

    No deal got done, and now Washington is looking at perhaps one more season with Scherff before the relationship becomes tenuous. There's virtually no chance the Redskins would give Scherff the tag for a second consecutive year.

    It makes sense to get a long-term deal done with Scherff now—which is possible since he has already signed his tender. Washington's primary goal over the next couple of seasons must be protecting and developing its quarterback of the future—regardless of whether it's Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen or a player to be drafted.

    Locking up a 28-year-old Pro Bowl lineman will go a long way toward accomplishing this goal.

Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell appears to be a big fan of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

    He told the Locked On Jaguars podcast:

    "He's always been one of my favorite players on the team. He's always come to work, lunch-pail guy, work hard, minds his own business, does his work, has a chip on his shoulder. ... So, that's the Yan that I know, and that you know and we've always talked about, about a guy that you wanted to be here for a long period of time."

    Jacksonville, however, used the franchise tag on Ngakoue instead of giving him a long-term deal. That hasn't sat well with the young pass-rusher, who has openly lobbied for a trade.

    "Let's both move on," Ngakoue said to the Jaguars on Twitter.

    There's a chance Jacksonville is past the point of no return with Ngakoue, but it needs to try to remedy the situation by giving Ngakoue the extension he deserves. He's a 25-year-old defensive end who has produced at least eight sacks in each of his four pro seasons and who has played in all but one game during that span.

    It makes no sense to deal Ngakoue, and it makes even less sense to risk losing him for the 2020 season because of a holdout.


    All contract information via Spotrac.