Could the Cowboys Trade for $137 Million Quarterback?

Jerry Jones

Getty Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys stands on the sidelines.

The Dallas Cowboys got an up-close look at how effective Jimmy Garoppolo can be as a quarterback as the San Francisco 49ers bounced America’s Team in the postseason. Time is running out for the Niners to find a new home for Garoppolo as they officially turn the offense over to Trey Lance, but could the Cowboys look to add some insurance behind Dak Prescott given his recent injury history?

Garoppolo’s $24.2 million salary remains the main hindrance to the Cowboys or another team making a push to acquire the veteran. The Niners quarterback has one year remaining on his $137 million contract.

Garoppolo makes some sense for the Cowboys if they could find a deal similar to the one the Panthers made with the Browns for Baker Mayfield. After the trade, Carolina was only on the hook for a guaranteed $4.8 million salary as Cleveland agreed to pay a good portion of the former No. 1 pick’s $18 million as part of the deal.

The challenge is Garoppolo’s situation is much different as the 49ers can release Garoppolo prior to Week 1 and avoid paying the majority of his salary. According to Spotrac, the Niners would take just a $2 million dead cap hit with his release and would avoid paying the majority of Garoppolo’s money. Mayfield’s salary was guaranteed so the Browns had motivation to pay some of his money in order to facilitate a trade.

A future day-three pick may not be enough for the 49ers to be willing to eat a chunk of Garoppolo’s salary just to orchestrate a deal with the Cowboys. That said, Dallas has more than $23 million in remaining cap space if the 49ers have a change of heart on paying for a portion of Garoppolo’s contract.

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Could the Cowboys Make a Run at Jimmy G If the QB Is Released?

All signs point to the 49ers releasing Garoppolo as no team appears willing to take on the quarterback’s high salary. The Niners are also likely unwilling to pay a good portion of the quarterback’s deal given the low trade return.

The Cowboys may not be eager to trade for Garoppolo, but could Dallas be a dark horse landing spot if Jimmy G is released? With the team’s quarterback position solidified, Dallas is a less appealing choice than Seattle or Cleveland. Yet, neither team has been aggressive in pursuing Garoppolo. If both franchises pass on Jimmy G, the veteran will likely be forced to choose among his preferred backup job and no team is more appealing than being the Cowboys QB2.

Garoppolo gets a year of high visibility with the Cowboys despite not playing, and Dallas gets insurance behind Prescott. We have seen the Cowboys make a high investment at backup quarterback as recently as 2020 with Andy Dalton.

The Niners quarterback threw for 3,810 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions during his 15 starts last season. Dallas is far from the favorite to land Garoppolo if he is released, but Jerry Jones should not be ruled out if the more obvious contenders pass on the quarterback.

Who Will Win the Backup QB Job?

Chances are the Cowboys will stick with what they have at quarterback as a competitive battle continues between Will Grier and Cooper Rush to be the team’s backup. Grier has looked more impressive during preseason action, but Rush led the Cowboys to victory over the Vikings when Prescott was sidelined last season. The Athletic’s Jon Machota sees this experience as being a big factor in the Cowboys choosing Rush over Grier at QB2.

“Grier has looked like the better QB at times during camp, but it’s unlikely that he will overtake Rush for the backup job unless he plays significantly better than Rush in Dallas’ final preseason game next Friday night,” Machota wrote on August 21. “Rush’s play last season should give him the edge if it’s a close call.”