It’s the first quasi-day of NFL Free Agency (because legal tampering) and there is already some big news dropping regarding two big names.

ESPN reported this morning that the Dallas Cowboys placed an exclusive franchise tag on QB Dak Prescott. The exclusive franchise tag means that Prescott cannot to talk to any other teams. The Cowboys have until July 15 to come to terms on a long-term deal.

(So much for my “Dak to Indy” prediction…)

For any other franchise looking to make a splash in NFL Free Agency, Dak Prescott is officially off the market. Most affected presumably are franchises such as Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers, and Tampa Bay. All three of those franchises were looking to upgrade in free agency. Not to fret if you’re a fan of any of these franchises; other capable quarterbacks such as Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota are available to be signed. (May God have mercy if your team signs Jameis Winston.)

Fear of a Long Negotiation

How will this play out? Each side will want to avoid what happened with Zeke Elliott’s long and, at times, prickly contract negotiations. If you’re a Cowboys fan, this scenario is your worst nightmare outside of a division rival winning a Super Bowl. Jerry Jones will want to avoid this, but will he be willing to drop $30 million a season for Prescott? Jones might be Super-Bowl starved, but the Cowboys have other positional needs (i.e. retaining Amari Cooper) and they’re right up against a tight salary cap. Prescott might have to sign a one-year deal for less money with the hopes that he’ll get a bigger deal next season.

Is Deandre Hop-ping to Another City?

(Formerly) Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported in his Football Morning in America blog this morning that the Houston Texans are looking to move All-Pro wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins.

The Texans realistically have one thing working for them if they should move Hopkins; it will only cost them $3 million against the salary cap. It’ll add to the $51 million they already have in cap space. Hopkins turns 28 this year, so he is still on the young side. He also has three years and $40 million remaining on his contract.

Why would the Texans warrant such a move? Simply said, they need draft capital. The Texans have no first-round pick, which they expended on the acquisition of Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, and a fourth-round pick this season. They will not be able to pick until the second round (57th overall). So, which teams have both the draft capital AND the salary cap space to acquire such a talented receiver as DeAndre Hopkins?

PPR Wide Receiver Rankings

Miami and Buffalo seem to make the most sense; the Dolphins have $91 million in cap space and have been dance partners with the Texans before. But who will throw to him? Ryan Fitzpatrick is fun but inconsistent and Josh Rosen is, well… Josh Rosen. The Bills, meanwhile, have NINE picks in this year’s draft as well as $75 million in cap space. They also have one of the league’s best defenses and a quarterback with a big arm in Josh Allen. The Bills showed in 2019 that they’re ready for the next level. An elite receiver like DeAndre Hopkins in a receiver-thin NFL Free Agency period might put them over the top. It might be time to make a match!

Be sure to explore all of Belly Up’s NFL content and feel free to comment on this article or hit me up on Twitter @whoisryanmcc.

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Ryan McCarthy

Ryan is a veteran of sports blogging since Al Gore invented the Internet. He has spent time with SportsHungry, e-sports.com, and ArenaFan. Ryan is a 2020 graduate from Regent University as a Journalism major. He hopes to make this sports media thing a full-time gig someday.

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