Ex-GM Urges Cowboys to Make ‘White Flag’ Move in NFL Draft 1st Round

Cowboys draft plans figure to be volatile.

Getty Cowboys draft plans figure to be volatile.

It’s not the first time this has been suggested for the Dallas Cowboys, but seeing as the NFL draft is just hours away now, really, it is still significant that a fellow of stature around the league is saying it. So we’ll repeat it: The Cowboys, according to former Jets and Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum, should use the No. 24 overall pick on Thursday night not to address the team’s clear needs on the offensive or defensive lines, but to take a quarterback.

Yes, the team with Dak Prescott on hand, despite a Pro Bowl season in which he threw for 4,516 yards and led the NFL with 410 completions—and despite his status as the runner-up in 2023 MVP voting—should use its most valuable current asset on a quarterback.

Tannenbaum’s reasoning? Leverage. Because while Prescott is a star beyond question, he also carries a legacy of postseason failure and an NFL-record impending cap hit of more than $55 million. He is signed for the 2024 season, but not beyond that.

Using No. 24 to select a QB would, essentially, be a signal that the team is readying to move on from Prescott after this year. Or maybe earlier.

Dak Prescott $52 Million Better Than Rookie QB?

Here’s Tannenbaum’s reasoning for the move to potentially pick one of the players considered the No. 5 or 6 quarterbacks in this draft, as he expressed this week on Get Up! on ESPN:

“Dak Prescott will be getting $55.6 million next year. The 24th pick will be getting $3.6 million per year so if it is, let’s say, Michael Penix or Bo Nix, is Dak Prescott really $52 million per year better? Now, look, that’s going to hurt them short-term, they need a left tackle, they need a running back, amongst others, but for their long-term interest, get some leverage on Dak Prescott for the future.”

There are any number of counter-arguments to Tannenbaum here, but one prominent retort would be that the Cowboys already have some leverage against Prescott in former No. 3 pick Trey Lance. When the team moved to trade for Lance late last summer, acquiring him for a fourth-round pick from the 49ers, the idea was always to have Lance on hand in case the team decided it did not want to overpay Prescott.

Penix or Nix would reinforce the point, for sure. But with Prescott, Lance and Cooper Rush already under contract, adding another QB to the room would necessitate a Cowboys trade. Maybe that’s Lance. Maybe, though, that’s Prescott.

Cowboys Picking a QB: ‘They Are Waving the White Flag’

Regardless, there are not too many backers for the stand Tannenbaum has been taking on the national airwaves. There is logic there, but to pick a quarterback now essentially signals a willingness to throw away the 2024 season.

Surely the Cowboys are not willing to go that far. They’ve suffered some losses in free agency, no doubt, but they still have a chance to win their division and hope to get lucky on enough young players to fuel a run into the postseason.

Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky, speaking with Tannenbaum on ESPN, pushed back forcefully on whether the Cowboys should pick a quarterback.

“Absolutely not,” Orlovsky said. “If the Cowboys do this, I am going to laugh, all first round. If they were gonna do this, they should have traded Dak Prescott. The Cowboys have three picks in the Top 70 in the NFL draft. If they take a quarterback in the first round, they are waving the white flag, not only for this season they’re basically cashing out but the era of Dak Prescott and this Super Bowl contending football team, they are cashing out on.

“This makes no sense to me.”

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