Proposed Trade Sends Cowboys a Former Highly Touted $30 Million QB

Jerry Jones

Getty Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

The Dallas Cowboys have a Dak Prescott-size hole to fill at quarterback, and a former No. 3 overall draft pick could be available on the cheap. Now that Baker Mayfield has won the Panthers starting quarterback spot, Sam Darnold is one of the NFL’s highest-paid backups with a $18.9 million salary.

Darnold is sidelined with an ankle injury, and Carolina could move on from their third-string quarterback for a very low asking price. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox labeled the Cowboys and Cleveland Browns as the top potential landing spots for a Darnold trade.

“As quarterbacks continue to hit the injury list, expendable quarterbacks like Sam Darnold will see increasing trade value,” Knox wrote on September 14, 2022. “The Panthers signal-caller is on injured reserve with an ankle sprain but will be eligible to return in three weeks.

“Darnold isn’t a high-end quarterback, but he does have 49 starts on his resume. The Panthers, meanwhile, are rolling with 2018 first overall pick Baker Mayfield as their starter and P.J. Walker as his backup. Darnold’s $18.9 million salary is guaranteed in 2022, and if the Panthers can find a team to take on any of that money, they’ll seize the opportunity.

“Right now, Dallas is the only team desperate for a quarterback — and its interest will hinge on Prescott’s recovery timeline.”

What Would a Trade for Darnold Cost the Cowboys?

A potential Darnold trade would likely look like something similar to what the Panthers orchestrated with the Browns for Mayfield. Cleveland paid the majority of Mayfield’s salary, and Carolina gave up only a conditional fifth-round pick. Darnold’s trade value is likely even lower, and the Cowboys could be able to land him for even less.

Darnold’s best season came in 2019 when he threw for 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 61.9% of his passes in 13 appearances for the New York Jets. Darnold struggled during his time as the Panthers’ QB1 last season, notching 2,527 yards, 13 interceptions and nine touchdowns while completing 59.9% of his passes in 12 contests. He also added 222 rushing yards and five TDs on the ground.

Darnold does not offer the Cowboys an immediate solution given his ankle injury, but he is expected to return to the field sooner than Prescott. The Cowboys would be wise to invest more into the QB2 spot even when Prescott is back at full strength given his recent injury history. Darnold, who is entering the final year of his $30.2 million rookie contract, could offer the Cowboys a potential long-term solution for the backup quarterback role.

Darnold has been unable to live up to the expectations that came being the No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft. This does not mean he could not emerge as a viable backup, something the Cowboys need to find a solution for given Prescott’s injury history.

Jones Labeled a QB Trade as Unlikely

USC QB Sam Darnold 2017 Highlights ᴴᴰFollow JBP on IG: (↓↓ click show more ↓↓) Follow me on Twitter: Follow me on Instagram: Follow JBP on Twitter: Like JBP on Facebook: USC QB Sam Darnold Sophomore 6’4 220 lbs Check out my backup channel: Intro song: (All rights go to University of Southern California,…2017-12-11T23:20:45Z

Despite the rumors, all signs point to the Cowboys leaning on Cooper Rush and Will Grier in Prescott’s absence. The Cowboys remain optimistic that Prescott will return sooner rather than later. During a September 13 interview on 105.3 The Fan’s “Shan and RJ,” Jones noted the Cowboys do not have a trade “in the mill.”

“The people that are ready to play quarterback for us are the ones that played all preseason: Cooper Rush and [Will] Grier,” Jones said. “They had a real competition. Grier got slowed there right at the end with a hamstring issue, but he should be through that now. So, we’ve gotten a lot of good snaps for those guys, both in our practice sessions as well as all the preseason games for the most part.

“Those guys know the offense well, have had a lot of reps in it and consequently give us our best shot. It’s unlikely since we don’t have any potential trade pending — not pending, but in the mill — it’s unlikely that you’d have a veteran quarterback that could get back in here and be ready to play as well as those guys can play, even if you thought you might have a talent advantage.”

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