How Prescott and Watson contracts expose glaring flaws in NFL compensation

Dak Prescott signed a huge extension. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Well, it didn't take long for the Texans' $39 million-a-year quarterback Deshaun Watson to be underpaid.

Dak Prescott signed a contract Monday that will pay him $160 million over four years, with $126 million of it guaranteed, plus a $66 million signing bonus up front. That's an all-time NFL record for an autograph. Next season, all-in, Prescott will make $75 million. That's for one season.

This isn't to say that our guy (for now) Watson is working for minimum wage. He's the third highest-earning quarterback in the league. Last year, Watson signed a four-year, $156 million deal that will pay him $39 million per year, with $111 million guaranteed, and a $27 million signing bonus. Prescott beats him in line item.

Only the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback has a richer contract, $450 million over 10 years. With bonuses and incentives, Patrick Mahomes' deal could be worth more than a half a billion bucks.

Prescott and Watson's situations may be the better deal in the long run. Prescott will be 31 and Watson only 29 when they're ready for a new contract. With TV contracts expiring, ticket prices soaring and the stock market booming, the sky may be the limit for Prescott and Watson.

Consider this, Jerry Jones paid $154 million to buy the Dallas Cowboys, the whole team, in 1989. He will pay Prescott, one player, more than that the next four years.

Let's compare apples to apples, Prescott to Watson. Prescott makes more per year, has more money guaranteed and a bigger signing bonus. Plus Prescott has better receivers, better running backs, better offensive linemen and plays for a better team with a better owner.

To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld flying in first class: better everything!

There's only one problem with the comparison: Prescott ain't better than Watson.

Prescott's best year was in 2019, when he threw for 30 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. The Cowboys went 8-8 that year.

Last year, Watson threw 33 touchdowns and with only seven completions to the other team. You don't need to be reminded that the Texans finished with a sucky 4-12 record.

Watson is faster, has a cannon arm and is a lifelong winner, at least until the Texans got hold of him. He's two years younger than Prescott. He's a more accurate passer, and a better deep ball heaver. He has a higher career completion percentage and higher passing rating. Nobody beats Professor Watson's post-game interviews.

Here's how you can determine who's the better quarterback. If things were normal (they're not), and Jerry Jones called Punkin' Cal McNair and offered to trade Prescott for Watson, the Texans would say no thanks. The Cowboys would take the deal and probably hornswoggle the Texans into throwing in draft picks and a sno-cone.

Of course this is a moot scenario because Watson wants out of Houston. The Texans are playing hardball, insisting they have no intention of trading Watson, which is the cherry on top of the Texans' stupid streak regarding their star quarterback. The Texans will embarrass themselves a few more times, but there will be somebody else playing quarterback next season.

Here are other quarterbacks making more than $30 million per year: Russell Wilson ($35 million), Jared Goff ($33.5 million), Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million), Kirk Cousins ($33 million), Carson Wentz ($32 million) and Matt Ryan ($30 million). In cases like Wentz and Goff, it's like they say in those TV commercials for stock brokerages: past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Meanwhile, there's a quarterback in Tampa Bay who's playing for relative peanuts. Some guy named Tom something makes only $25 million. Haven't heard much about him lately, though.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome