Cowboys To Decline Trey Lance’s Fifth-Year Option

The Cowboys sent the 49ers a fourth-round pick for Trey Lance in August; the parties are going into their second season together. No immediate plans for a third will be in place.

Even with Lance’s participation rate qualifying him for the bottom tier of the fifth-year option structure, exercising it would cost the Cowboys $22.41MM. The former No. 3 overall pick will instead, as expected, move into a contract year. The Cowboys are declining Lance’s 2025 option,’s Todd Archer reports.

[RELATED: 2025 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker]

Plans for Lance remain unclear for the Cowboys, who are effectively renting the one-year North Dakota State standout as a project on a depth chart headlined by Dak Prescott but still including Cooper Rush. The latter’s contract calls for a $2.25MM base salary. Lance is due a $1.1MM base salary, but the Cowboys picked up a guaranteed roster bonus worth $4.25MM in March.

As it stands, Lance is on track to become one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. After turning to Lance as their Week 1 starter in 2022, the 49ers reversed course following an ankle injury that required two surgeries. Lance could not beat out Sam Darnold for San Francisco’s backup job last year, and the team kept Brandon Allen as its third-stringer. While Brock Purdy has bailed out the 49ers, they sacrificed two future first-round picks and a third to move up — from No. 12 to No. 3 — for Lance three years ago. Purdy has allowed San Francisco to move on rather cleanly, but Lance’s future is cloudy.

This year will be a bit different for Lance, as he will go into the preseason with the Cowboys. He arrived in Dallas after the 2023 preseason slate wrapped, but he and Rush stand to see extensive time during the Cowboys’ August tilts this preseason. The Cowboys have liked what they’ve seen from Lance in practice, per Archer, and will be ready to give him plenty of run in the preseason. That said, Lance was inactive for every Cowboys game last season.

Next year’s free agency may well feature four of the five first-round QBs from the 2021 draft. The COVID-19-marred period undoubtedly affected teams’ evaluations, but that first round included three passers that have not worked out (Lance, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones) and another inconsistent option (Justin Fields) that was traded due to the Bears having access to a better option in this year’s draft (Caleb Williams). Lance’s marks the last of this batch of declined options, with the Broncos, Jaguars, and Steelers each declining the option to greenlight guaranteed money for their low-cost reclamation projects. Only one of the five 2021 first-round QBs — Trevor Lawrence — saw his option exercised.

A dual-threat sensation for North Dakota State in 2019, Lance was denied a chance to build on that success due to the pandemic prompting Division I-FCS to nix its fall seasons. Lance declared for the 2021 draft and did well to score a $34MM guarantee from the 49ers. Unable to threaten Jimmy Garoppolo‘s job security as a rookie, Lance completed 15 of 31 passes in 2022. He has thrown just 102 NFL passes and still has fewer than 500 attempts since high school. This preseason will at least provide Lance the chance to display progress.

While Prescott’s contract-year status could conceivably impact Lance, the latter has not shown much to indicate he will be worthy of longer-term consideration. It will be interesting to see if that changes in the coming months.

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