Will Dak be back?
Dallas is backing Dak Prescott as its future, and it certainly makes sense, considering his production and the effect he’s had on the team since taking over as starter in 2015. Prescott’s unfortunate injury ended his 2020 season and maybe even Dallas’ quest for a championship ring.
But… what if Prescott didn’t come back to the Cowboys?
What if Dallas decided to move on from Prescott? What if another team made Prescott an offer he simply could not refuse?
Dallas has plenty of options for quarterback in 2021, and it starts with Prescott — but it might not end with him.
IYER: Dak Prescott’s injury gives Cowboys even more reason to work out contract
Plan A: Re-sign Dak Prescott
Stephen Jones made it pretty clear just days after Prescott’s injury: it doesn’t sound like Prescott is going anywhere. And why would he?
It seems like re-signing Prescott is going to be a priority, and with the way that Prescott was playing prior to injury, it would be something of a mistake to move on: Prescott was playing to an MVP-level before his injury, with a league-leading 1,856 yards through the air, nine touchdowns to four interceptions. He was in the midst of a career year, despite an 1-3 record heading into the Giants matchup.
Prescott is a proven commodity at this point: He’s easily in the upper tier of starting quarterbacks in the league and has proven himself as a consistent, above-average performer. Guys like that aren’t really easy to find around the league, and Dallas knows what they have: a high-character, high-quality passer who has earned the payday that’s coming.
Plan B: Draft a quarterback
This might be the most intriguing and organizationally responsible option for the Cowboys moving forward.
Sure, giving a 17-year-old with a driver’s permit the keys to a Lambourghini seems like a bad idea, but when you look around the NFL and who has success, there’s a clear formula: Draft a quarterback, win on their rookie deal, pay him later. Or, support your veteran quarterback with young, drafted talent. Finding a quarterback usually isn’t the first step of a team looking to win a title — it’s the last.
So what if Dallas does look to the draft?
There’s an intriguing trio of quarterbacks coming out in 2021: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. Lawrence is all but a lock to go No. 1 overall, while Fields is a projected top-10 pick. Lance is the wild card in the draft, so it’s not as though it would be easy for Dallas to find that guy in the draft. (A small reminder, though: Prescott was a fourth-round pick.)
It’s not to diminish Prescott as a person or as a player at all, but let’s put aside the sentimentalism regarding Prescott’s plight for just a minute; Prescott’s next contract is going to eat up a lot of Dallas’ cap (or whoever else’s cap). With the state of utter chaos that the Dallas defense is in, and the money being invested into Dallas’ offense, does it make financial sense to re-sign Prescott and handcuff the rest of the cap?
The Dallas defense is in desperate need of a facelift, and there’s a good chance that they draft a ton of young talent in 2021 to try and bolster that side of the ball. There’s also a question of how a young defense can fit and mold together when a team is vying for a Super Bowl, as they’re finding out in 2020.
It’s not an easy decision. It’s also not easy to piece together a defense, banking on lots of young talent in a league that favors offense more than ever. Trusting young defenses to figure it out and help win games a very big gamble to take in 2020.
Which is why it all comes back to the QB question: Do you splurge and drop a ton of money into the quarterback position, or reset it with a talented QB on a rookie deal and continue to build elsewhere? Byron Jones was already a casualty of the Cowboys’ cap situation heading into 2020, with several other key members of their secondary hitting the market.
Whoever is taking snaps under center next year is going to have a readymade offense, with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott all presumably back for 2021, a still top-flight offensive line and a proven, veteran head coach in Mike McCarthy. That seems to be a perfect situation for a quarterback entering the league, doesn’t it?
Plan C: Trade for (or sign) a quarterback
The trade and free-agent markets are murky roughly five months until the end of the NFL season, but there could be several intriguing, young signal callers to be had:
The Jets could move on from Sam Darnold should they land the No. 1 overall pick, as many would expect them to select Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, signaling another rebuild (or at least, the next stage of their current one). With his arm talent, ability to make throws outside the pocket and extend the play, doesn’t Darnold remind you at least a little bit like Tony Romo? Darnold, still just 23, has his issues as a passer, and is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal. But with Dallas’ excellent supporting cast in place and a coach known to work well with young quarterbacks, it seems like one of those Madden franchise-mode like trades that would work out for both sides.Washington Football Team seems very dissatisfied with Dwayne Haskins at the moment. Would they entertain an in-division trade? It would seem like a big no-no for Washington to hand a potential star quarterback to a division rival, but if the Team is determined to move on from the mercurial Haskins (after seeing what and he who is as a player and person), then shipping him off to a division foe isn’t the worst trade to make. Again, realistic? Probably not.In addition to Andy Dalton hitting free agency again following the season, there will be a few lesser-tiered but potentially viable QB options: Jameis Winston and Mitchell Trubisky to name a few. Both guys have their issues, but is Mike McCarthy the guy to try and solve both? Seems risky, and unlikely given the Cowboys’ timeline to win a Super Bowl, but if there’s still some untapped potential in there, it may not be the worst decision.