Why is an NFL player, current or former, telling another player to take less money in a contract? More accurately, why is Carson Palmer, who at the time he retired from his fairly mediocre career at the end of the 2017 season was one of the 10 highest-paid players in NFL history, telling Dak Prescott that he should not get every penny possible in his coming contract?
And using ridiculous logic to justify it?
Palmer was on Dallas station 105.3 The Fan on Thursday and was asked about Prescott, who began last season on the franchise tag and ended it on injured reserve after a devastating ankle injury in October. Prescott was on the tag in 2020 because the Dallas Cowboys and Prescott couldn’t agree to an extension before the league-mandated deadline.
“I love Dak’s game. I think he’s great. I think he shouldn’t shoot for the moon [on his contract]. Being the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, there’s a lot more that comes with that financially. So you don’t have to be the top-paid quarterback in the league,” Palmer said.
(Insert J. Alexander’s “I don’t understand this foolishness” GIF here.)
Whatever money Prescott could make off the field is extra and is contingent on multiple factors, first and foremost whether Prescott is presented with such opportunities or even wants to pursue them. Lest we forget, if a quarterback hasn’t accomplished “enough” for our liking as a player but is ubiquitous in halftime commercials, he’ll be dragged by media for caring more about his savings account than making his team better (see: Mayfield, Baker).
Also, this is the NFL, the league that never stops telling us how popular it is. It doesn’t matter what market a marquee player plays in; if corporations want him as the face of their products, they’ll use him. Peyton Manning played in Indianapolis and was in every third commercial we saw on Sundays during his career.
Further, endorsement money isn’t part of Prescott’s football salary, and Jerry Jones doesn’t need another excuse to try not to pay his team’s franchise quarterback the market rate for a franchise quarterback.
Why didn’t Palmer use the reverse idea for why Prescott is right to demand every dollar he can? Forbes magazine consistently rates the Cowboys as the most valuable sports franchise on the planet, and two years ago Jones himself said that if he ever decided to sell the team, the starting price would be $10 billion.
Palmer’s statements are a relative of the weird logic New England fans would use to say Tom Brady shouldn’t negotiate the highest possible salary: Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, makes millions, they said, so Brady doesn’t need as much.
(Speaking of Brady, if Prescott does decide to take a little less under the idea that it will help Dallas build a better team around him, he should talk to the GOAT. Years ago Brady accepted the vaunted “hometown discount” from New England under the same reasoning and the Patriots traded away his best receiver, Deion Branch, leaving him with a terrible group to work with.)
These things are not the same. Regardless of the number of zeroes involved, no one is telling you to accept less than your worth to your company because your partner also earns a good salary, and the money you may make in a side hustle or passion project doesn’t mean your full-time employer gets to pay you less.
Because he was a mid-round draft pick, Prescott earned around $4 million over the course of his four-year rookie contract, plus the $31.4 million from the franchise tag in 2020. That’s not pennies; we’re not saying it is. But the contract he signs in the coming months will provide the generational wealth that can change the course of his life and his family’s for years to come.
Beyond that, his body or work merits it: Prescott started every game over the first 69 games of his career before his injury, led Dallas to two division titles and has 15 regular season game-winning drives in his four-plus seasons.
Palmer’s contracts totaled $174 million in his career. Anyone ever tell him to take less when he was faux-retiring to force his way out of Cincinnati or going 1-3 in a whopping three playoff appearances over the course of a 15-year career?
Didn’t think so. Stay out of another man’s pockets.
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