Cowboys quarterback roster review: Dallas has decisions to make beyond Dak Prescott’s contract

Cowboys quarterback roster review: Dallas has decisions to make beyond Dak Prescott’s contract

The Dallas Cowboys’ 2024 offseason got underway while it was still very young, maybe in the first half of their one-and-done

playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Cowboys quarterback roster review: Dallas has decisions to make beyond Dak Prescott’s contract
Cowboys quarterback roster review: Dallas has decisions to make beyond Dak Prescott’s contract

By halftime, we were already discussing coaching changes, free agency, and the draft. Why not start studying our position

previews right away?

Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, and Trey Lance are the trio of quarterbacks that might see some major adjustments.

Although Prescott’s employment is guaranteed for the upcoming season, his future remains uncertain as he approaches the

last year of his current contract.

Rush could not even get the opportunity to compete for the backup position if he is eliminated by the salary cap.

QBs Under Contract for 2024

  • Dak Prescott – $59.5 million cap hit
  • Cooper Rush – $2.9 million cap hit
  • Trey Lance – $5.3 million cap hit

Again, Prescott will return to the starting quarterback position for the upcoming season, barring a very spectacular deal.

With an almost unaffordable $59.5 million cap cost set for 2024, how Dallas handles his deal will reveal everything about

their thoughts on his long-term prospects.

To gain more flexibility today, they can mortgage the future, but doing so will need them to remain committed to Prescott as

their team’s champion.

The Cowboys will need to wait a year to move on from Prescott and still field a competitive team, even if they are prepared to

look at other quarterback options.

It would still leave $25 million in dead money on this year’s cap and postpone $36 million until 2025 if Prescott was given a

June 1st cut this spring.

Not only is that a heavy load to bear, but you lack the means to locate a suitable successor in a timely manner.

The fact that they decided to retain Mike McCarthy implies they are not planning to rebuild just yet, so cutting Prescott would

be at odds with that choice.

A victim of Prescott’s contract may be his backup. While Cooper Rush’s $2.9 million cap hit isn’t bad for a veteran QB2, it’s

now bumping up against the salary surge in Trey Lance’s deal. Dallas picked up Lance’s rookie deal when they traded for him

last year, and the fourth year of that contract jumps Lance’s cap hit from $940k in 2023 to $5.3 million if he’s on the 2024 roster.

While the Cowboys did give up a fourth-round pick to acquire Lance from the 49ers, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee he

will make the 2024 roster.

While we didn’t get to see the former third-overall pick in action last year, Dallas had him for a full season of practices,

meetings, and other observational opportunities.

If they didn’t like what they saw, they could cut Lance with just a little over $1 million in dead money and avoid a $4.3 million roster bonus.

It’s difficult to imagine Dallas keeping Rush at his current cap number if Lance returns.

In the event that Rush is moved or released, they will receive $2.25 million in cap relief.

Keeping him and Lance would entail allocating more than $8 million of your cap to backup quarterbacks alone, which is

impractical considering other concerns.

Considering Rush’s time in Dallas and his reported teaching career, maybe they can come to a salary agreement that would

allow him to stay on as the third quarterback and be present in the room.

However, in order to avoid seeming completely ridiculous, the Cowboys must move up the depth chart if they plan to keep

Lance around for more than $5 million annually.

If Rush does get released, QB3 will likely go to some Day 3 draft pick or a veteran journeyman on a minimal contract.

Dallas already has the present and future accounted for with Prescott and Lance, at least theoretically, so throwing another

body at the position right now wouldn’t make much sense.

But, What If…

Before we go, let’s just play around with the idea that Dak Prescott gets released or traded this offseason.

Keep in mind that he has a no-trade clause in his contract, so Prescott would have to approve of whatever deal Dallas tried to make.

Again, we don’t think either of these things are actually happening, but what might the Cowboys do if they did?

If there’s one thing that 2023 taught us, it’s that some veteran quarterbacks can be competitive while offering massive cap savings.

Joe Flacco emerged like the Undertaker out of a coffin and helped lead the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs.

He only cost them $2.5 million this year. Baker Mayfield, another scrap heap signing, helped get Tampa Bay to the second

round of the playoffs at just $4 million for the year.

Could Mike McCarthy persuade the Jones brothers that he could prevail with a man like him? If they are considering

swallowing Prescott’s dead money now and moving on, they might feel more at ease about not giving up completely if they

sign a player like Ryan Tannehill or Gardner Minshew.

Alternatively, how about simply giving Trey Lance the keys for a year?

Once more, we’re not suggesting that any of this will or even ought to occur.

Nevertheless, given what other teams were able to achieve in 2023 with inexpensive quarterbacks, you can at least see how

Dallas has a foundation to make a significant quarterback move. Even though the chance is only one in a million, that still

implies there’s there’s still a chance.

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