Dak’s Big Deal Has The Rest Of The NFL Freaking Out

Thanks to the historic quarterback carousel underway, NFL fans have become a little jumpy. More than half the NFL teams seem to want a new QB, and most top QBs have expressed willingness or even interest in leaving their current team.

On Monday, the Dallas Cowboys paid Dak Prescott $160 million over four years to be their quarterback. And that drove more panic NFLwide. Last night, I listened to talk radio in Chicago, where a show’s host was trying to calm fans, expressing optimism over the Bears’ chances of trading for Seattle’s Russell Wilson. When one host said he had no optimism, a caller angrily tore him to pieces, saying that in these COVID times, we need hope.

And that’s just one city! Imagine how they feel in, say, Denver, Washington, New England, Carolina, New Orleans. A recent Washington Post headline screamed that the QB carousel “could spin out of control.’’ Sports Illustrated’s said “nearly half the league could change,’’ and the Boston Globe’s said that “the carousel is starting to make us dizzy.’’

Dizzy? The sports media must just have an equilibrium problem or something. Call me a party-pooper, but I’m here to report that nothing is happening. The wildly expected insane quarterback carousel certainly isn’t.

Dizzy? The music is playing but the carousel isn’t going round and round.

With Prescott’s signing, the great quarterback exchange produced the Dallas Cowboys signing the quarterback who had been playing for. . .the Dallas Cowboys.

That anxiety you’re feeling, NFL fans, is because of one thing:

You are being used as leverage. 

Elite quarterbacks and their agents saw Tom Brady leave New England for Tampa Bay, where he won the Super Bowl. And now, surely some top QBs, such as Matt Stafford in Detroit (now traded to the Los Angeles Rams) and probably Deshaun Watson in Houston, want to get out of their terrible situations.

But mostly, I think the quarterbacks talking about leaving — or at least the anonymous sources saying that that’s what they’re talking about — are just trying to drive up their prices to get fat new contracts.

They say they might want to leave, and fans in different cities, such as Chicago, where they’ve been waiting for 70 years to get a quarterback as good as Wilson, start getting all excited. The fans pressure their teams. In Chicago, general manager Ryan Pace has been told that if the team doesn’t improve this coming season, he’s out.

Meanwhile, the fans in Seattle aren’t going to want to lose Wilson to the Bears. So Seattle fans get jumpy. And you can see how the pressure builds on both sides, which drives up Wilson’s price. The media help to generate the buzz, of course, which only jacks up the prices to the point where Dak Prescott gets $160 million.

God bless agents. They have figured this out. They are geniuses. They are working this so beautifully.  

So it’s true that Stafford went to the Rams and the Rams sent QB Jared Goff and other pieces back to Detroit. And with Stafford off the market, Carson Wentz suddenly had some leverage. So Indianapolis traded for him.

Now that Prescott is off the carousel, as well as Stafford, Wentz and Goff, the other QBs out there have more leverage. As quarterbacks get gobbled up, cities like Denver have fewer options, making fans even more jumpy.

Meanwhile, the teams with pretty-good quarterbacks, such as the Las Vegas Raiders, are going to start feeling pressure to hang on to their guys. I expect the Raiders to pay up for Derek Carr.

I wrote recently at OutKick that the “QB carousel has stopped. The QB sweepstakes isn’t happening. It was a myth from the start. It was part Ponzi scheme, part shellgame.’’

Do I know this with 100 percent certainty? Let’s say 99 percent. There is the possibility that one domino will fall and then a few more might fall after that. If that weren’t even a possibility, then all the panic would disappear and leverage around the league would disappear.

But back to Chicago. The Chicago Tribune has been reporting that the Bears think they have a good shot at getting Wilson. Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Mel Kiper Jr. says the Bears won’t get an elite QB with the 20th pick in the draft and might end up stuck with Florida’s Kyle Trask.

That only puts pressure on management to up the price they’re willing to pay for Wilson.

Meanwhile, The Denver Post is saying that the Broncos should not trade down from their ninth spot in the draft and just take the best QB available. These are desperate times for a quarterback, after all.

Desperation = leverage. And what is that worth?

To Dak Prescott, it’s worth $160 million.

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Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in RollingStone.com and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for CNN.com/Bleacher Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for FoxSports.com and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.


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  1. Nobody is learning the real lesson from Tom Brady and Peyton Manning when they each moved to new teams.

    extortion is essentially an illegal contract of adhesion. this means one party is so advantaged, that its agreement with other is tainted as unfair.

    Brady and Manning could have extorted their teams, but chose to play like a team player and take less to win.

    these new entitle ‘hof’ QB’s feel emboldened to take all the money and live with what happens when there is not enough to go around.

    how will a $40 million a year player win on a team with 52 other guys that divide up the remaining salary cap?

  2. JJ is weak gave all that dough to Elliot then what didn’t perform at all last season now this Prescott has not won a damn thing and a gruesome injury to boot JJ will not see another SB in his lifetime and its been 26 years since the last one mainly because JJ thinks he knows it all.

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