49ers Trade QB Trey Lance to Cowboys

The 49ers have found their trade partner for former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the young quarterback will now head to Dallas to compete for the backup job behind Dak Prescott. San Francisco receives a return on Lance of a 2024 fourth-round pick, according to a later Schefter tweet.

One day after general manager John Lynch claimed Lance would “most likely” remain a 49er, the Lance experiment is now over in the Bay Area. After trading three first-round picks and a third-round pick to swap draft slots with the Dolphins in order to select Lance, the 49ers only saw four starts in two years and a fourth-round pick for their major investment.

Injuries and the emergence of last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, contributed to Lance’s lack of opportunities and success in his first two seasons. Now, with fellow former first-round pick Sam Darnold coming in to claim the backup quarterback job in San Francisco, Lance had found himself sliding down the depth chart in his third year. The 49ers will move forward with Purdy and Darnold in 2023.

Dallas is secure with Prescott at starting quarterback. They do have a need for a strong backup passing option considering Prescott hasn’t played a full season for the Cowboys since 2019. Over the past three years, Prescott has missed 17 of a possible 50 games. Dallas has been lucky to win eight of the last 10 games Prescott has sat out, but the potential Lance still holds as a former high draft pick still presents the opportunity for improvement at the position behind Prescott.

The money is an interesting aspect looking forward at the deal. Prescott is set for a contract year in 2024 in which he will hold a $59.46MM cap hit. He has a no-trade clause and is not able to be franchise-tagged, so the only solution out of that egregious cap number is an extension, a restructured contract, or getting Prescott to waive his no-trade clause for a preferred trade destination. Lance, on the other hand, is set to earn $940K this season and $1.55MM next year with a $4.26MM roster bonus. The Cowboys will also get the decision of whether or not to exercise Lance’s fifth-year option in 2025.

In the immediate future, Lance will come in and compete with Cooper Rush for the primary backup position behind Prescott. There’s likely a hope in Dallas that not only will Lance beat out Rush for the QB2 role, but that eventually, Lance might provide them with a serviceable option should they choose to move on from Prescott. Obviously, Lance hasn’t shown that ability to consistently start, but the Cowboys are holding out hope that he can still develop into more than we saw in San Francisco.

It’s finally official, though: Lance will get a fresh start in Dallas. After failing to stay on the field for various reasons in San Francisco, Lance will attempt to solidify a spot in the NFL with the Cowboys over the next two or three years.

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