Trey Lance

Cowboys Unlikely To Carry Three QBs; Trey Lance Expected To Claim Backup Job?

Trey Lance has been in the Cowboys’ system for nearly a year, but the former No. 3 overall pick has not gone through a preseason slate with his current team yet. While Lance joins most of the 2021 first-round QB quintet in being headed toward free agency, the Cowboys want to give the former 49ers draftee an extended look come August.

Set to resume a competition with Cooper Rush for Dallas’ No. 2 QB gig, Lance will likely see more time during the team’s three-game preseason slate. The Cowboys know what they have in Rush, who has spent almost his entire seven-plus-year NFL career with the team. As Rush goes into another camp with the Cowboys, he may be poised to wind up in an emergency role — thanks to another NFL rule change this offseason — in Year 8.

Although a recent assessment of the Rush-Lance matchup pegged the more experienced option as leading the competition for the backup job, that may well change once the team sets its 53-man roster. Lance is likely to be the second QB the Cowboys carry once they set their initial 53, The Athletic’s Jon Machota notes (subscription required).

The team is unlikely to put three QBs on its active roster, and Machota adds the former high-end prospect would need to “look awful” during camp and the preseason to not be Dak Prescott‘s top backup. This would stand to make Rush more of an insurance option, as the Cowboys hope their August 2023 trade pickup has another level to reach during their upcoming training camp.

It would be unsurprising to see the Cowboys prioritize Lance upon setting their roster, even if it came at the expense of Rush’s roster spot. Not yet a vested veteran, Lance would need to be exposed to waivers if the Cowboys placed Rush as Prescott’s only backup. Rush is a vested vet, and given his familiarity with the team, the former UDFA being open to sticking around as the emergency option on the practice squad seems realistic.

A number of teams will probably take this route, as the NFL has increased flexibility to stash a third-string QB on its taxi squad. While the 49ers’ experience in the 2022 NFC championship game prompted the league to reintroduce the emergency rule in 2023, its offseason rule change will provide teams more flexibility this year. Clubs can elevate a practice squad QB onto their 55-man gameday rosters as many times as they choose, which would allow the Cowboys to keep Lance from the waiver wire while Rush resides on their 16-man P-squad.

Joining Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Mac Jones as 2021 first-round quarterbacks to be traded over the past year, Lance is tied to a $5.3MM guarantee. He spent the 2023 season as Dallas’ No. 3 QB, with the team carrying three on its roster last year. As expected, the Cowboys passed on Lance’s fifth-year option ($22.41MM) in May. Lance, 24, has not thrown a regular-season pass since September 2022, when a broken ankle led to the 49ers changing moving to a course that eventually involved Brock Purdy making a stunning leap from Mr. Irrelevant to productive starter.

Lance, who famously only started one season at North Dakota State due to the COVID-19 pandemic nixing the fall schedules for Division I-FCS teams, has only thrown 102 NFL passes. The emergency QB rule would allow the Cowboys the chance to effectively keep Rush as their backup come Week 1 — in the event Lance truly is not ready — but they plan to give the younger option every chance to overtake the 30-year-old vet in August.

QB Notes: Broncos, Mahomes, Lance

By selecting Bo Nix 12th overall, Sean Payton and the Broncos added a potential franchise quarterback. Whether or not the uber-experienced college passer takes on starting duties as a rookie remains to be seen, though.

Denver used a rotation of Nix, Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson with the first-team offseason during spring practices. A report from earlier this month pointed to Nix being the favorite despite Stidham’s familiarity with Payton’s scheme. On that note, Troy Renck of the Denver Post confirms Nix “has ground to cover” relative to the 27-year-old who made two Broncos starts last season.

On the other hand, Payton has not been shy about praising Nix’s acclimation so far. The former Saints Super Bowl winner noted (via Renck’s colleague Parker Gabriel) the Oregon alum’s performances so far have matched the team’s expectations based on their pre-draft evaluations. As Renck adds, Nix could very well wind up getting the nod for Week 1. That would turn attention from Stidham’s perspective to a competition with Wilson for the QB2 gig.

Here are some other quarterback notes:

  • The top priority for NFL teams during this part of the year is having players avoid non-football injuries. As a result, the contracts of several players list specific activities which are deemed off-limits. In the case of Patrick Mahomesthat list includes basketball. The three-time Chiefs Super Bowl MVP would have the guarantees in his deal voided if he were to be injured playing basketball, as detailed by ESPN’s Marc Raimondi. Mahomes’ monster extension was restructured again in March to create cap space, but it still runs through 2031. Plenty of rolling guarantees (in terms of both salary and bonuses) remain on the contract, giving him ample reason to play things safe.
  • Trey Lance is on the books with the Cowboys for one more season, with the team having made the unsurprising decision of declining his fifth-year option. The former 49ers top-three pick did not play last year, and it remains to be seen if he will serve as Dak Prescott‘s backup. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes Lance is likely still behind Cooper Rush on the depth chart. The latter has made 26 appearances and six starts for Dallas, and he has one year remaining on his deal. With both Rush and Lance set to reach free agency next spring, their respective training camp and preseason performances will be key in determining the pecking order.
  • Taulia Tagovailoa‘s pro football career will begin north of the border. The CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Tua Tagovailoa‘s younger brother signed with the team. Taulia began his college tenure at Alabama, but he transferred to Maryland and enjoyed a successful four-year run there. Tagovailoa, 24, broke the Big Ten’s all-time records for passing yards (11,265) and completion percentage (67.1%) with the Terrapins before going undrafted into the NFL this year. He received a look from the Seahawks and Cardinals during their minicamps, but his attention will now turn to earning playing time in Hamilton.

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.

2025 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2021 first-rounders. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternates) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag
  • Players who achieve any of the following will receive the average of the third-20th-highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position

With the deadline looming, we will use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars ($25.66MM): Exercised
  2. QB Zach Wilson, Broncos* ($22.41MM): Declined
  3. QB Trey Lance, Cowboys** ($22.41MM): Declined
  4. TE Kyle Pitts, Falcons ($10.88MM): Exercised
  5. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals ($21.82MM): Exercised
  6. WR Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins ($15.59MM): Exercised
  7. T Penei Sewell, Lions ($19MM): Extended through 2029
  8. CB Jaycee Horn, Panthers ($12.47MM): Exercised
  9. CB Patrick Surtain, Broncos ($19.82MM): Exercised
  10. WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles ($15.59MM): Extended through 2028
  11. QB Justin Fields, Steelers*** ($25.66MM): Declined
  12. DE Micah Parsons, Cowboys ($21.32MM): Exercised
  13. T Rashawn Slater, Chargers ($19MM): Exercised
  14. OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets ($13.31MM): Exercised
  15. QB Mac Jones, Jaguars**** ($25.66MM): Declined
  16. LB Zaven Collins, Cardinals ($13.25MM): Declined
  17. T Alex Leatherwood, Raiders: N/A
  18. LB Jaelan Phillips, Dolphins ($13.3MM): Exercised
  19. LB Jamin Davis, Commanders ($14.48MM): Declined
  20. WR Kadarius Toney, Chiefs***** ($14.35MM): Declined
  21. DE Kwity Paye, Colts ($13.4MM): Exercised
  22. CB Caleb Farley, Titans ($12.47MM): Declined
  23. T Christian Darrisaw, Vikings ($16MM): Exercised
  24. RB Najee Harris, Steelers ($6.79MM): Declined
  25. RB Travis Etienne, Jaguars ($6.14MM): Exercised
  26. CB Greg Newsome, Browns ($13.38MM): To be exercised
  27. WR Rashod Bateman, Ravens ($14.35MM): N/A; extended through 2026
  28. DE Payton Turner, Saints ($13.39MM): Declined
  29. CB Eric Stokes, Packers ($12.47MM): Declined
  30. DE Greg Rousseau, Bills ($13.39MM): Exercised
  31. LB Odafe Oweh, Ravens ($13.25MM): Exercised
  32. LB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Buccaneers ($13.25MM): Declined

* = Jets traded Wilson on April 22, 2024
** = 49ers traded Lance on August 25, 2023
*** = Bears traded Fields on March 16, 2024
**** = Patriots traded Jones on March 10, 2024
***** = Giants traded Toney on October 27, 2022

Revisiting 2021 First-Round QB Picks

With the 2024 draft approaching, this year’s crop of quarterbacks will increasingly become the center of attention around the NFL. Acquiring rookie passers is viewed as the surest route to long-term success, and the urgency teams feel to generate quick rebuilds fuels aggressive moves aimed at acquiring signal-callers deemed to have high upside.

Each class is different, though, and past drafts can offer a cautionary tale about the downfalls of being overly optimistic regarding a young quarterback. In the case of the 2021 draft, five signal-callers were selected on Day 1, and to varying extents things have not gone according to plan in each case. Three quarterbacks (quite possibly four, depending on how the immediate future plays out) have been traded, while the other has not lived up to expectations.

Here is a breakdown of all five QBs taken in the first round three years ago:

Trevor Lawrence (No. 1 overall, Jaguars)

Lawrence entered the league with enormous expectations after his high school and college success, having been touted as a generational prospect. The Clemson product (like the rest of the Jaguars) endured a forgettable season under head coach Urban Meyer as a rookie, however. The latter’s firing paved the way for the arrival of Doug Pederson, known to be a QB-friendly coach. Lawrence improved in 2022, earning a Pro Bowl nod and helping guide the team to the divisional round of the postseason.

This past campaign saw the 24-year-old battle multiple nagging injuries, and he was forced to miss a game for the first time in his career. Jacksonville failed to find a rhythm on offense throughout the year, and a late-season slump left the team out of the playoffs altogether after a division title seemed to be in hand. In two seasons under Pederson, Lawrence has totaled 46 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions – figures which fall short of what the pair were thought to be capable of while working together. Nonetheless, no changes under center will be forthcoming.

Following in line with his previous stance on the matter, general manager Trent Baalke confirmed last month extension talks with Lawrence have begun. The former college national champion will be on his rookie contract through 2025 once the Jaguars exercise his fifth-year option, but megadeals finalized in a QB’s first year of extension eligibility have become commonplace around the NFL. Lawrence profiles as Jacksonville’s answer under center for years to come, something of particular significance given the team’s past struggles to find a long-term producer at the position.

Four young passers inked second contracts averaging between $51MM and $55MM per year last offseason. Lawrence is positioned to be the next in line for a similar deal, though his generally pedestrian stats could hinder his leverage to a degree. At a minimum, he will see an AAV much higher than that of his 2025 option ($25.66MM) once his next contract is in place.

Zach Wilson (No. 2, Jets)

The Jets’ decision to take Sam Darnold third overall in 2018 did not prove fruitful, and in short order the team was in need of another young passer. Wilson was immediately installed as the team’s starter, but in both his rookie campaign and his follow-up season he struggled in a number of categories. A lack of improvement regarding accuracy and interception rates made it clear a more proven commodity would be required for a team internally viewed as being a quarterback away from contention.

That drove the decision to trade for Aaron Rodgers last offseason, a move aimed at relying on the future Hall of Famer in the short term while allowing Wilson to develop as a backup. Four snaps into the season, though, Rodgers’ Achilles tear upended that plan and thrust Wilson back into a starting role. Playing behind a struggling (and injury-marred) offensive line, the BYU alum guided an offense which finished 29th in scoring and 31st in yardage. In the wake of the poor showing, owner Woody Johnson publicly disparaged Wilson in vowing to upgrade the QB2 spot.

With Tyrod Taylor now in place (and Rodgers aiming to continue playing into his 40s), Wilson’s New York days are believed to be numbered. The Jets have given him permission to seek a trade, which comes as little surprise given the team’s decision to bench him on a few occasions over the past two seasons. A fresh start for both parties could be beneficial, although value on a deal will come well short of the capital used to draft him. Offers for the 24-year-old have nevertheless been received, so a deal could be struck in relatively short order.

Once that takes place, New York will have once again cut bait with a failed QB project. Wilson could follow Darnold’s path in taking on a backup gig before receiving another starting opportunity with a new team. For the time being, though, he will aim to find the ideal supporting role in an attempt to rebuild his value.

Trey Lance (No. 3, 49ers)

Aggressively pursuing a Jimmy Garoppolo upgrade, San Francisco moved up the board at a substantial cost. The 49ers sent the Dolphins a package including three first-round picks and a third-rounder, banking on Lance’s athletic upside. After a year sitting behind Garoppolo, the North Dakota State product was positioned to take over in 2022.

However, a Week 2 ankle fracture cut Lance’s season was cut short; this proved to mark an end to his San Francisco tenure. In all, Lance made just four regular-season starts with the 49ers, as the 2022 season unintentionally resulted in Brock Purdy taking over the starter’s role. The emergence of the former Mr. Irrelevant paved the way for Lance to be traded, but his injury history and inconsistent play when on the field limited his trade market. The Cowboys won a brief bidding war, acquiring Lance for a fourth-round pick.

Lance did not see the field in his first season as a Cowboy, but Dallas will keep him in the fold for the 2024 campaign. He will thus be in line to serve as Dak Prescott’s backup for a year; the latter is not under contract for 2025, but he remains firmly in the team’s plans. Unless Prescott were to depart in free agency next offseason, a path to a No. 1 role does not currently exist for Lance.

The 23-year-old could nevertheless still be viewed as a worthwhile developmental prospect given his age and athletic traits. The Lance acquisition has clearly proven to be a mistake on the 49ers’ part, though, especially given the success the team has had without him. What-ifs will remain a part of this 49ers chapter’s legacy (particularly if the current core cannot get over the Super Bowl hump) considering the substantial price paid to move up the board and the draft picks not available in subsequent years as a result.

Justin Fields (No. 11, Bears)

Like San Francisco, Chicago did not wait on the chance of having a top QB prospect fall down the draft board. The Bears moved two first-round picks, along fourth- and fifth-rounders, to move ahead of the Patriots and add a presumed long-term answer under center. Fields saw playing time early enough (10 starts as a rookie), but his performance that year left plenty of room for improvement.

A head coaching change from Matt Nagy to Matt Eberflus also brought about the arrival of a new offensive coordinator (Luke Getsy). Fields did not make the expected jump as a passer in the new system, averaging less than 150 yards per game through the air and taking 55 sacks. He became only the third quarterback to record over 1,000 yards on the ground in a season, though, showcasing his rushing ability. The Ohio State product made only incremental progress in 2023, despite an improved offensive line and the trade acquisition of wideout D.J. Moore.

As a result, speculation steadily intensified that general manager Ryan Poles – who was not a member of the regime which drafted Fields – would move on from the 25-year-old. Fields received endorsements from Eberflus, Poles and others in the building, but the team decided to move on and pave the way for (in all likelihood) Caleb Williams being drafted first overall. A conditional sixth-round pick sent Fields to the Steelers, his preferred destination.

In Pittsburgh, Fields is slated to begin as the backup Russell Wilson. Both passers face uncertain futures beyond 2024, especially with the former not on track to have his fifth-year option exercised. Fields could play his way into the starter’s role in relatively short order given the 10-year age gap between he and Wilson, who flamed out in Denver. That, in turn, could see his market value jump higher than that of the other non-Lawrence members of this class given their respective situations.

Mac Jones (No. 15, Patriots)

Drafted to become the Tom Brady successor of both the short- and long-term future, Jones was immediately installed as New England’s starter. Coming off a national title with Alabama, he appeared to set the stage for a long Patriots tenure by earning a Pro Bowl nod and finishing second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. Nothing went according to plan for team or player beyond that point, however.

Jones saw Josh McDaniels depart in the 2022 offseason, leaving head coach Bill Belichick to hand the offensive reins over to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. That move resulted in widespread struggles on offense, and Jones regressed. Following a 2021 playoff berth, the inability to venture back to the postseason the following year led to increased speculation about the team’s future under center. That became particularly true amid reports of tension between Jones and Belichick.

With both coach and quarterback under pressure to rebound, optimism emerged when the Patriots hired Bill O’Brien as OC. That move did not produce the desired results, though, and by the end of the year Jones was benched in favor of Bailey Zappe. With a Belichick-less regime set to start over at the quarterback spot, the former was dealt to the Jaguars for a sixth-round pick.

Jones has publicly stated the deal (which sent him to his hometown team) was a mutual parting of ways. A backup gig behind Lawrence could allow the pocket passer to regain some of his confidence generated by his rookie success, but his showings over the past two seasons will no doubt give teams considerable pause with respect to viewing him as a starter down the road. Jones’ athletic profile is also a less favorable one than that of Wilson, Lance and especially Fields, something which could further consign him to QB2 duties for the foreseeable future.

Four quarterbacks are considered locks to hear their names called on Day 1 of the 2024 draft, one in which each of the top three picks may very well once again be used on signal-callers. Other QB prospects are also in contention for Round 1 consideration, meaning they and their new teams will be subject to considerable scrutiny. To put it lightly, all parties involved will hope the top of this year’s class pans out better than that of its 2021 counterpart.

Cowboys To Retain Trey Lance In 2024; Team Will Not Pick Up QB’s Fifth-Year Option

Most of the attention concerning the Cowboys’ quarterback situation is of course focused on starter Dak PrescottHis contract status will be worth watching this offseason, but clarity has emerged regarding Trey Lance

[RELATED: Latest On Prescott Extension Timeline]

The latter will remain with the team through the 2024 campaign, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reports. The Cowboys will therefore pay out a $4.25MM roster bonus which is due five days after the start of training camp. In all, Dallas will owe the former No. 3 pick $5.31MM, a figure which notably dwarfs the compensation backup Cooper Rush is set to receive ($2.25MM).

Lance entered the league with considerable expectations given the trade haul spent by the 49ers to move up and select him in 2021. He entered his second campaign atop the depth chart, but a season-ending injury limited him to just a pair of games. Brock Purdy‘s performance after that point made Lance expendable, and he was dealt to the Cowboys in August. Acquired for only a fourth-round pick, the 23-year-old received a fresh start in the process, although he did not see any regular season action.

Today’s news means Lance will be in place for the coming campaign, but Watkins unsurprisingly adds the Cowboys will not exercise his 2025 fifth-year option. Doing so would have locked the team into a $22.41MM salary that season, far more than he will be worth presuming he remains on the sidelines for the foreseeable future. Lance can nevertheless turn his attention to an offseason competition with Rush for the QB2 spot while Dallas continues to work out a deal keeping Prescott in place for years to come.

Rush is on track for free agency in 2025. The former UDFA has made 26 appearances and six starts during his Cowboys tenure, which dates back to 2017. Lance will join him in a similar capacity from a financial standpoint after spending a season as a developmental third option on the QB depth chart. It will be interesting to see if Dallas will again keep three passers on the active roster and if so, which one will earn the backup job during training camp and the preseason. Especially if he wins the No. 2 gig, Lance will have the opportunity to continue the Cowboys chapter of his career through 2024.

QB Notes: Dak, Ravens, Lance, Dobbs, Lions

Although a report earlier this month indicated the Cowboys and Dak Prescott had not begun contract negotiations, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe notes conversations occurred “throughout the offseason.” The Cowboys restructured Prescott’s deal in March, creating 2023 cap space but setting up a showdown of sorts in 2024. Because of the redo, Prescott carries what would be a record-shattering $59.5MM cap hit for 2024, the final year of his contract. Prescott, 30, will almost definitely not play on that number; no one has ever played on a cap number north of $45MM.

Because the Cowboys tagged Dak in 2020 and procedurally tagged him in 2021, part of the long-running negotiations that finally produced a deal in March 2021, they do not have a 2025 tag at their disposal. The Cowboys want to gain contract clarity with Prescott, Howe notes (subscription required), with CeeDee Lamb extension-eligible and Micah Parsons eligible in January. But the eighth-year QB will hold tremendous leverage, particularly if he can complete a bounce-back season, once the sides get serious about an extension.

Here is more on the QB front:

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins Addresses Future

Plenty of veterans made their way out of Minnesota this offseason, but quarterback Kirk Cousins is still in place for at least one more year. He recently spoke about his future with the Vikings (or another team) as he enters the final year of his contract.

Cousins is set to earn $30MM this season, after it became clear he would not sign another Vikings extension this offseason. Talks on a new contract are expected to take place after the campaign but before his deal expires in March, something which would take him to free agency for the second time in his career. That leaves the 35-year-old with plenty to prove this season, something he is acutely aware of.

Cousins admitted he is playing for his job when speaking to the media. He added, “that’s kind of the life you live. And I think when you take that seriously, that lends itself to having success more days than not” (h/t ESPN’s Kevin Seifert).

Both team and player have expressed an openness to continuing their relationship, one which has seen Cousins earn $155MM to date in Minnesota. The four-time Pro Bowler will earn another signficant payday on a new deal in 2024 if he continues his strong play from last season, in which he threw for the second-most yards of his career (4,547) and helped lead the team to a 13-4 record. Cousins has cashed in on a number of occasions, and he has done particularly well in securing guaranteed money in his career. Doing so again will require a strong season, as Minnesota could move on if he regresses or suffers an injury.

Tom [Brady] made the point that there is no entitlement in the NFL,” Cousins added. “And if there is entitlement in the NFL, that organization is probably doing it wrong. I think it’s healthy when players need to go out every day, and nobody is entitled to anything… If it ever isn’t that way here, I would be the first one to complain and say, ‘I sense some entitlement, and let’s change that.”

As Seifert’s colleague Adam Schefter notes, Cousins’ contact – which includes four void years for salary cap purposes – does not expire until after the deadline to apply franchise tags. Minnesota will have likely made a decision on his future by that point, something which will be worth watching given the lack of long-term successors in the organization. Many expected the Vikings to be aggressive in drafting a passer in April, but they did not add one until the fifth round (Jaren Hall).

For that reason, Seifert notably reports that Minnesota was not in on Trey Lance trade talks. The former 49ers top-three pick was dealt to the Cowboys for a fourth-round selection after a quick negotiating process which included a few other teams. The fact the Vikings steered clear of Lance leaves their QB situation beyond 2023 something to monitor.

Jerry Jones Addresses Dak Prescott Contract; No Extension Talks Yet

The Cowboys restructuring Dak Prescott‘s contract this offseason gives their longtime quarterback some ammo. The reworking created a whopping $59.5MM Prescott cap number in 2024, the final year of his current deal. Already limited by the events of 2021 with Dak, the Cowboys have some work to do going forward.

Taking parts of three offseasons to agree to an extension, Prescott ended up playing his hand well. His price rose from 2019-21, and talks ended up coming down to the March 2021 deadline for teams to apply franchise tags. With Prescott having already been tagged in 2020, the 2021 number would have brought a cap sheet-clogging $37MM hit. As that deadline approached, the Cowboys hammered out a four-year, $160MM extension with the former Offensive Rookie of the Year. The fallout from that extension affects the team today.

Because the Cowboys applied a procedural tag on Prescott in 2021, it would be untenable for them to tag him a third time in 2025. While two years remain on Prescott’s deal, the 2024 cap number and the tag being out of play will equip him with considerable leverage. For now, however, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill notes the Cowboys and Dak have not linked up on extension talks. An extension would allow the team to reduce Prescott’s monster 2024 cap number.

The topic of a second Prescott extension surfaced this offseason, but the Cowboys had more pressing matters to address. They have taken care of those, giving Zack Martin a raise and adding more than $35MM guaranteed to end his holdout. They also extended Trevon Diggs, Terence Steele and Malik Hooker to prevent them from going into contract years. CeeDee Lamb looms as an extension priority as well, but he is signed through 2024. Micah Parsons certainly will be, too. The all-world pass rusher becomes extension-eligible in January but can be kept on his rookie deal through 2025 due to the fifth-year option the Cowboys will exercise by May.

Dallas also made a surprising trade for Trey Lance, with Hill adding Jerry Jones pulled the trigger without consulting Prescott or Mike McCarthy. Jones said the Lance trade did not come to pass because of a potential leverage ploy against Prescott, via The Athletic’s Jon Machota (subscription required), and added he wants the current starter in Dallas for a long time. Prescott, 30, declined to comment on prospective contract talks, via the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins, adding he was not surprised by the Lance acquisition. The former No. 3 overall pick is not expected to play this season, with Hill adding Lance could compete with the recently re-signed Cooper Rush for that job in 2024. Rush is now on a two-year deal.

While Lance counts only $940K on Dallas’ cap sheet this year, that number spikes to $5.31MM in 2024. Prescott’s 2024 number will need to be addressed, as no player has entered a season with a cap hit higher than $45MM. The Browns are in the same boat, though theirs is a bit trickier due to Deshaun Watson‘s 2024-26 cap numbers (all at $63.97MM) part of a fully guaranteed contract. Two void years are on Prescott’s deal. It would cost the Cowboys $36.5MM were they to not extend Prescott before the start of the 2025 league year.

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones Addresses Trey Lance Trade

The Cowboys won a brief, Day 3 picks-laden bidding war last night for Trey Lance last night. The move gives Dallas a notable name on the QB depth chart behind Dak Prescott, and owner Jerry Jones elaborated on the thought process behind the move on Saturday.

The Cowboys acquired Lance for a 2024 fourth-round pick – a pittance of a return from San Francisco’s perspective considering the price they paid to move up in the 2021 draft to select him third overall. The deal sorts out the 49ers’ situation under center with Brock Purdy set to be backed up by Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen. Dallas, meanwhile, has Prescott and Cooper Rush in place, along with Lance as a developmental project.

“Quarterbacks are a precious commodity in the NFL,” Jones said when asked about the deal (via Jon Machota of The Athletic). “We should have in the wings a quarterback on the come. When San Francisco called, I didn’t want them to hang up… We want to back Dak Prescott up as well as we can… You can’t have enough quarterbacks. We’ll see how it works out, but it’s worth any risk we’re taking here.”

Jones added that he does not foresee Lance playing during the regular season this year, but questions have been raised about how it could affect Prescott’s future. The latter is on the books through 2024, but he is due to carry a cap hit of $59.5MM that year. An extension for the 30-year-old aimed at lowering that figure has been on the team’s radar for several months now. The presence of Prescott for the short- and, in all likelihood, medium-term future did not play a role in the Lance deal.

Jones added (via ESPN’s Todd Archer) that Prescott’s financial situation was not a consideration when negotiating the Lance trade, and that the two-time Pro Bowler was not notified about the trade before it was official. The Cowboys have been eyeing a developmental passer in each of the past several drafts, with Jones saying the team was prepared to draft Jalen Hurts in 2020. They now have a 23-year-old to attempt to develop in Lance while relying on Prescott for at least the time being.

From a financial standpoint, Lance will not be a burdensome signal-caller until next year. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated tweets that the 49ers already paid out a $2.82MM roster bonus, leaving the Cowboys responsible for only his base salary ($940K) in 2023. Next season, on the other hand, Lance will be due a fully guaranteed $5.31MM. Where he stands in the Cowboys’ organizational plans by that point will be worth watching closely.