Cowboys Already Made Decision on $22 Million Move for ‘Dart Throw’ QB: Report

The Cowboys trade for Trey Lance (left) looks stranger as Dak Prescott (right) prepares to sign a major new contract.

Getty The Cowboys trade for Trey Lance (left) looks stranger as Dak Prescott (right) prepares to sign a major new contract.

If the Cowboys trade for Trey Lance was, as’s Mike Fisher says, a “dart throw” then it appears that the dart is still in the air. For now, that is as good as it’s going to get for Lance and the Cowboys. Dallas gave away a fourth-round pick to the 49ers for Lance, viewing him as a backup plan for Dak Prescott.

But with Prescott coming off a near-MVP campaign and set to cash in with a major new contract, it looks like there is little need for Lance in Dallas. And, to no one’s surprise, Fisher reports that the Cowboys have made the decision not to pick up Lance’s fifth-year option. That would have cost them $22 million for the 2025 season, and that was never going to happen unless there was a chance that Lance would replace Prescott.

Not happening. A more likely scenario, per Fisher:

“Prescott doesn’t get outplayed by Lance. But the latter player shows such promise this summer that Dallas is able to trade him (or Cooper Rush) in exchange for value in excess of a fourth-round pick.

“That would be ‘winning the trade.’”

Trey Lance Needs to Play

Sure, that would be winning the trade, but it’s just hard to see how Lance somehow gains value by not playing.

Lance did not take a snap for the Cowboys all season, and he remained firmly ensconced as the No. 3 on the depth chart, behind starter Prescott and backup Cooper Rush, who made seven appearances mopping up for Prescott this year. Lance is still young—he turns 24 years old in May—But he is entering his fourth NFL season and needs to get on the field.

He has thrown just 56 NFL passes in eight career appearances.

It’s a little cumbersome at this point even to keep Lance around on the roster at $5.3 million. There’s not much need for three quarterbacks.

Rush can stay on board as the backup, with an option for one year and $2.25 million. That’s a much cheaper way to go than cutting Rush loose and bumping Lance up to No. 2, and it’s also the choice that encourages more stability—Rush has been with the Cowboys for 10 of his 12 NFL seasons.

But keeping Rush means jettisoning Lance. And that means paying him $5.3 million and losing the 2024 fourth-rounder for a player who did absolutely nothing for the franchise all season.

Cowboys Trade to Recoup Cost of Deal Getting Unlikely

So the dart remains airborne, but the opportunity to somehow win this trade appears to be getting less and less possible. The Cowboys could seek to trade Lance again, but who would give up a third-round pick for a player who has not been on an NFL field for nearly two years when the 2024 season opens?

It would be hard enough to get a fourth-rounder for Lance, though teams seeking low-risk, high-reward returns on the No. 3 pick in the 2021 draft could conceivably make that gamble. Denver or the Raiders, for example, are teams that could seek to take a swing at a relatively young veteran like Lance.

Either way, the clock is ticking on the Cowboys and Lance. It’s a slim chance he wants to remain a backup beyond 2024, and if Dallas does not move him now, their chance to recoup the cost of the trade will collapse quickly.

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