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The Cowboys very unlikely scenario where the team could replace Dak Prescott

Could the Cowboys have something up their sleeve?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys failed to live up to expectations in 2023 and there will be a lot of finger-pointing going on this offseason. One of the most popular targets is quarterback Dak Prescott. Now, typically we wouldn’t pay much attention to any notion that the organization would consider moving on from their star quarterback, but in the spirit of being thorough, we wanted to do our due diligence and examine all angles. So, if you wouldn’t mind, put on your hypothetical caps, and let’s entertain the idea that the Cowboys could, just maybe, be giving some serious thought to their quarterback position. We’ll start with this one...

They traded for Trey Lance for a reason

Trades are made all the time and the Cowboys’ front office has shown it will dabble a bit if they can get some value from a low-cost draft pick. They did this to acquire Brandin Cooks, they did it to land Stephon Gilmore, and they did it to get Johnathan Hankins. Those were all for picks in the fifth round or later.

The Cowboys can be a little stingy with their draft capital, so seeing them forfeit a fourth-rounder for the rights to Trey Lance was a bit surprising. That’s a little larger of an investment. Lance spent the entire season as a game-day inactive with emergency quarterback eligibility. He never saw a single snap.

The team had no plans for him to see the field this past season as he was acquired as a development project, but the question was, develop into what? The next starter? A potential backup?

With Prescott the team's starting quarterback, the answer has to be the backup quarterback, right? The problem with this logic is they appear to be overinvested in Lance to just be a backup. Check it...

  • Gave up a 2024 fourth-round draft pick
  • Paying a $5.3 million cap hit for 2024
  • Have until May to exercise a $19.1 million fifth-year option for 2025

The Cowboys can either be done with him after the upcoming season getting very little backup value out of him, or they could have other plans. By May, those plans will become a little more clear. Exercising that fifth-year option will send a shock through Cowboys Nation as it would indicate a plan to make him the team’s starter in 2025. There is no way they could take on Lance’s fifth-year option and have Prescott re-signed for future years. That’s too much money to hedge your bets at the quarterback position. Speaking of too much money, let’s examine another factor.

The financial implications of keeping Dak Prescott are huge

An extension for Prescott will be historic as the going rate for a franchise quarterback these days is nearing $60 million per year. Keeping Dak as their quarterback will eat up roughly 20% of their annual cap space. That’s the cost for a good quarterback and teams that want one will pony up the cash to do it.

The Cowboys also have some other star players that will need to be paid, starting with their best offensive and defensive players, CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons. Keeping Prescott and their other star players will be a challenge, a challenge that will include letting several key starters walk in free agency. If the Cowboys were to move on from Dak, it would create a lot of financial flexibility to bolster other parts of the roster.

Are they satisfied with Prescott?

Prescott is coming off an MVP-like season and it feels like an easy decision to re-up on him. At the same time, he is coming off one of his worst playoff performances. Dak looked uncomfortable the entire game. He was restless, struggled to find open receivers, and at times panicked and made horrible throws. This Prescott playoff plateau is something we’ve also seen in each of the prior two seasons. As much as we love the guy, it’s hard to look past what he’s doing in these big games.

This is more baffling than anything. What is going on in his head that makes him perform that way? The Cowboys are constantly changing things around him to help Prescott as much as they can. Quarterback coaches, offensive coordinators, BFF backups like Mark Sanchez, it’s all for Dak. And when it goes awry, the Cowboys replace a coach, rinse, and repeat. This is not suggesting that Prescott is the problem in Dallas. He’s not. But it’s not unreasonable to say he hasn’t been the solution when the postseason rolls around.

Do the Cowboys want to spend $55+ million on a quarterback who struggles to get it done in the playoffs or can they find a much cheaper replacement and then use all those additional resources to strengthen other parts of the roster? If they feel that the number three overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft can perform adequately, they could consider an alternative path in their roster-building process.

We have no idea how they feel about Lance right now. The Cowboys front office can be full of surprises at times and we never know what the Joneses are thinking. If they thought they could get creative, strike gold with a future NFL quarterback, and save a big chunk of their pie in the process, you better believe they would be all over it. Decisions are coming soon when it comes to extending Prescott and picking up Lance’s fifth-year option so it’s only a matter of time before we know what they’re up to.

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