Just when you thought the Dallas Cowboys were out of the quarterback market, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg is suggesting a wild idea of the team pursuing Los Angeles Rams star Matthew Stafford in 2024. Greenberg believes the Cowboys should borrow a page from the Jets and have Trey Lance learn under Stafford.
“How about thinking about a Super Bowl winning veteran quarterback who might want to finish his career in his hometown of Dallas, Texas and mentor a young player in a year or two to being ready to take over the reigns,” Greenberg said during an August 30, 2023 episode of “Get Up.”
“That young player could be Trey Lance, and I’m here to tell you right now [Dan] Orlovsky, your buddy Matthew Stafford, I could easily see a world in which a year from today, Dak Prescott is way better off being the quarterback of Tampa or Minnesota or Denver or someplace where they really want him. And your buddy Matthew Stafford is the starting quarterback of his hometown Dallas Cowboys.”
Greenberg is making a lot of assumptions here, so it is important to outline what the ESPN analyst is suggesting could happen. Prescott still has two seasons remaining on a four-year, $160 million deal, so this would only make sense if the Cowboys opted to trade the quarterback in 2024. This gets even more complicated as Prescott has a no-trade clause in his contract meaning he would have to sign off on any potential deal.
Trading for Matthew Stafford Would Be a Logistical Nightmare for the Dallas Cowboys
There is also Cooper Rush to consider whose two-year, $5 million contract runs through 2024. According to Spotrac, the Cowboys have an out in Rush’s deal next offseason that would allow the team to move on from the veteran while taking a $625,000 dead cap hit.
Finally, in the rare event that Prescott and Dallas mutually agree to part ways, it would make a lot more sense for the Cowboys to see how Lance plays with an expanded opportunity. Lance would be heading into the final season of his four-year, $34 million rookie contract. Giving the quarterback another learning season does not make a lot of sense for Dallas before Lance would be seeking his second contract.
If Prescott’s future earnings makes owner Jerry Jones squeamish, trading for Stafford’s four-year, $160 million contract would be even worse given the deal runs through 2026. Stafford is slated to have a $31 million base salary and a whopping $49.5 million cap hit for 2024.
Matthew Stafford’s $49 Million Cap Hit Would Be a Non-Starter for the Dallas Cowboys
In fact, Stafford’s cap hit does not fall below the $49 million mark in any of the final three seasons of his deal. The Rams do have an out in Stafford’s deal in 2026, but it would require the team to take an $18.5 million dead cap hit.
If all this has not sold you on Stafford yet, consider that the former Super Bowl winning quarterback is also returning from a serious neck injury. Stafford threw for 2,087 yards, 10 touchdowns and 8 interceptions while completing 68% of his passes in 9 games during the 2022 season prior to the injury. The veteran is just one year removed from throwing for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns while leading the Rams to the Super Bowl.
Stafford returning to his hometown may create a good Hollywood story, but it makes little logistical sense. The only way Stafford wears a star on his helmet is potentially at the close of his career as a backup. While Stafford is far from a realistic option for the Cowboys, the team still has plenty of questions to answer at quarterback following the Lance trade.