CeeDee Lamb is likely the first domino to fall with the Cowboys' contract extension.

And that's exactly what the Cowboys ended up doing. Up until now, the Cowboys hadn't seemed to be worried about future extensions. Their “Hakuna Matata” mentality had riled up fans and dominated sports conversations. CeeDee Lamb, Dak Prescott and Micah Parsons were cornerstones of Dallas, but without new contracts, they risked spending their best years elsewhere.

Lamb and Prescott are the most pressing situations, as they will become free agents after the 2024 season, but progress has been slow. The Rams seem keen to wait to enter into negotiations until the contract extensions of other top receivers are settled. With top receivers like Amon-Ra St. Brown, AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Justin Jefferson all signing new contracts recently, the Lambs are primed to make something happen.

Widely regarded as the top WR in the NFL, Jefferson set the NFL record for average annual salary (AAV) paid to a non-quarterback player. He set the high end of the WR market and set the bar for Dallas' new contract with Lamb. The market could reset again when Ja'Marr Chase inevitably re-signs with Cincinnati, but I think Lamb can generally expect an AAV in the $32-34 million range. Philadelphia's Brown's $32 million AAV (2nd-highest AAV for a WR in the NFL) is likely on the low end, while Jefferson's $35 million is the high end.

The WR market presents a clear prospect for the Cowboys and Lamb to follow. Lamb will spearhead a chain reaction contract extension for the Cowboys and will likely be the first domino to fall for the Cowboys. With the June 1st cap space release giving the Cowboys cap space, the timing is just about perfect.

Prescott is in no particular rush to re-sign, but he has a no-trade/no-franchise clause in his current contract that puts him in a very favorable position. The Cowboys have played chicken with Prescott before and probably don't want to do it again. Acquiring Lamb gives the Cowboys a selling point and financial projections to use in negotiations with Prescott.

Keeping Prescott on his current contract through the 2024 season would essentially mean letting him go as a free agent next March. In that situation, there's no reason for him not to test the market, and no way for the Cowboys to stop him. His departure would signal a rebuild in Dallas that could continue for years, a worst-case scenario that even Prescott's critics want to avoid.

The Lamb Dominoes would be a huge step in preventing that ugly scenario from happening, which was never going to happen until the WR market was in order. Jefferson's deal definitely does that and paves the way for a big move for Dallas.

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