We’ve officially entered #SpeculationSzn.
And to kick off the annual occurrence, Bleacher Report compiled a list of four 2021 trade targets for the Dallas Cowboys, including none other than soon-to-be-former New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.
Via columnist Tyler Brooke:
The Jets may be drafting Darnold’s replacement with the second overall pick in April. If that happens, they could decide to trade away the incumbent and give him a chance to prove himself with a new team while still on the final year of his rookie deal.
If the Cowboys don’t bring Prescott back and can’t afford to sign another quarterback in free agency, Darnold could be a great option as they look to see if he could thrive in their offense. He would have plenty of weapons to throw to in CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, his cap hit would be less than $10 million in 2021, and the Cowboys wouldn’t be obligated to keep him after next year.
This would all depend on the Cowboys not re-signing Prescott and the Jets drafting a quarterback, but playing in Dallas would be an ideal fresh start for Darnold.
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Darnold’s Resume, Cost of Acquisition
The No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft, Darnold never blossomed into the star signal-caller the Jets thought they were landing. Of course, much of that has to do with the state of the moribund franchise, which did little to help the USC product — be it through coaching or his supporting cast.
Darnold started 12 games in 2020, throwing for 2,208 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 217-of-364 passing (59.6%). Altogether, through three NFL seasons, the 23-year-old has completed 729 of 1,219 balls (59.8%) for 8,097 yards, 45 TDs, and 37 INTs. He’s tallied a 13-25 record across 38 career appearances.
Darnold is under contract through 2021, his age-24 campaign, during which he’s scheduled to earn $920,000 in base salary and count $9.794 million against the salary cap. As mentioned, he’s likely to be replaced with Gang Green holding the No. 2 selection for April’s draft.
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Unlikely to Materialize
Brooke admittedly cautioned this very hypothetical trade is contingent on Dallas allowing franchise QB Dak Prescott, an impending unrestricted free agent, to test the open market. And that … won’t happen.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones confirmed that Prescott putting pen to paper is atop the club’s immediate to-do list, while owner/general manager Jerry Jones expressed a desire to “get [his contract] together.”
“His evolving into an NFL quarterback has been nothing short of a perfect picture,” Jerry Jones said Tuesday. “He has great ability, in my mind, to win games. He’s talented. He certainly has the experiences and he has all the things, which has been substantiated by what we’ve offered Dak. You wouldn’t offer Dak what we offered in the past if you’d not thought he was very special.”
If Dallas cannot agree to a multi-year pact with Prescott, perhaps in excess of $40 million per year, the organization is fully expected to apply the franchise tag for the second straight season, this time at a cost of $37.7 million — up from the $31.4 million he earned in 2020.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL