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Cowboys news: This next year could be ‘make or break’ for both McCarthy, Prescott

Your Thursday morning news for the Dallas Cowboys.

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he’s “all-in” for 2024. Here’s what that could look like - David Helman, Fox Sports

An “all-in” approach is preferred, but Dallas has to be able to afford it.

Challenges

Let’s start with the salary cap. The Cowboys are currently projected to be about $20 million above the salary cap for the coming year, but they can easily improve their immediate books.

The Cowboys can shave roughly $25 million off their cap by flipping a few levers on their contracts with Zack Martin, Trevon Diggs, DeMarcus Lawrence, Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker. They can designate Michael Gallup a post-June 1 cut, saving $9.5 million in 2024 in the process. If they’ve got the stomach to trust such an unproven player, they can also save $2 million by cutting Cooper Rush and rolling with Trey Lance as their backup quarterback.

That would put them roughly $20 million above the cap in time for the new league year, depending on the final cap figures.

Yes, it’s worth noting that Dallas could save some cap space by reaching an extension with CeeDee Lamb. However, due to the size of that deal and the fact that fellow superstar Justin Jefferson is also angling for top dollar, I’m not sure Lamb’s deal is going to get done by mid-March. The same could be said about Micah Parsons’ upcoming mega-extension. So let’s put a pin in those for now.

But that does bring us to the biggest item on the to-do list.

The Dak deal dilemma

As we have thoroughly discussed, Dak Prescott will cost the Cowboys $59 million against the cap if they don’t take action.

What action? All part of the fun of being at this organizational crossroads. But a $59 million cap hit simply isn’t going to work for a team that’s trying to improve on 12-5 and a division title.

Why Is Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Not Attending the Pro Bowl? - Jess Nevarez, Pro Football Network

Dak Prescott’s absence from the Pro Bowl games is more than justified.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will not be attending the Pro Bowl games for a good reason.

Why Is Dak Prescott Missing the Pro Bowl?

Despite being selected for his fourth Pro Bowl appearance, Prescott will not be in attendance.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reported that Baker Mayfield would appear to replace Prescott because he was “unable to participate due to injury,” but that isn’t the case.

Multiple reports stated that Prescott would be missing the games for personal reasons, which include the potential birth of his first child.

It was announced in November that Prescott and his girlfriend, Sarah Jane Ramos, were expecting their first daughter together.

“Obviously, everyone knows what my mom means to me, so just being able to raise a little girl, I’m excited about it. I’m excited about all of the challenges. I know it’s not going to be easy being my daughter or being a Prescott, but looking forward to it, every bit of it,” said Prescott when addressing the media about the announcement in November.

At that point, he said his baby girl was due in early March, but it makes sense for the quarterback to be prepared for the baby’s arrival as February rolls around.

Explaining the 2024 NFL Draft order: How Cowboys’ playoff loss helped their position, plus other storylines - Garrett Podell, CBS Sports

The playoff upset puts them ahead of fellow conference heavyweights.

The Dallas Cowboys’ sucker-punch conclusion to their 2023 season in a 48-32 NFC Super Wild Card Weekend loss against the seventh-seeded Green Bay Packers as the conference’s No. 2 seed was so stunning it had quarterback Dak Prescott openly saying he sucked that night.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones completely changed his organizational outlook to team building because of the 2023 season-ending defeat, but the good news is they are now a few spots ahead of some other NFC contenders in the 2024 NFL Draft order.

Sure, it’s odd seeing the Cowboys, who went 12-5 in the regular season, with the 24th pick in the draft, and the Packers, who went 9-8, behind them at pick 25, but that’s because the league’s draft order is determined by playoff results for the 14 teams who reach the postseason. The final arrangement won’t be set until after Super Bowl LVIII, where the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.

Some intriguing angles regarding this year’s draft include the Chicago Bears’ possession of two selections in the first 10 picks, including the first overall pick. They acquired that pick in a blockbuster trade last year with the Carolina Panthers that allowed the Panthers to move up from nine to one to select Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. The 2024 Bears will become the 21st team in the Common Draft era (since 1967) to have two top 10 picks in the same draft provided they don’t trade back. They will need to decide if they want USC quarterback Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, or to retain Justin Fields, their 11th overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft.

Only three drafts all time have seen the first three picks all be quarterbacks, but with the Bears, Washington Commanders and New England Patriots on the clock, the 2024 draft has a chance to join the 1971, 1999 and 2021 draft classes as the fourth. With Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye (the only FBS player with over 7,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards across the last two seasons) and LSU’s Jayden Daniels (the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner) a part of the upcoming draft as options for those teams, it appears the first three picks could be historic once again.

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones: ‘No doubt’ I could work with Bill Belichick - ESPN

If McCarthy doesn’t win in ‘24, the Cowboys could look to the GOAT.

It appears Bill Belichick won’t be a head coach in the NFL next season. But if the Dallas Cowboys decide to move on from Mike McCarthy after next season, could Jerry Jones’ team be an option for the future Hall of Fame coach?

Talking to Yahoo Sports at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, the Cowboys owner and general manager said there’s “no doubt” he could work with the former New England Patriots coach, whom he calls a “friend.”

“I know him personally and I like him,” Jones told Yahoo. “There’s no doubt in my mind we could work together. None.”

Belichick, who mutually parted ways with the Patriots after 24 seasons and six Super Bowl titles, had only two interviews during this year’s cycle — both with the Atlanta Falcons, who decided to hire Raheem Morris for the job instead.

Four other head-coaching jobs have been filled with only two current vacancies — with the Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks — and neither team has been reported to be linked with Belichick, 71.

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