Trey Lance

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.

Trey Lance Fallout: Trade Request, Other Suitors, Cowboys

The Trey Lance era in San Francisco proved to be short lived, as the 49ers traded the former third-overall pick to the Cowboys last night. While the quarterback went from franchise cornerstone to QB3 in only two years, general manager John Lynch still had high praise for Lance following the deal.

[RELATED: 49ers Trade QB Trey Lance to Cowboys]

“Really hard day, such a wonderful young man,” Lynch said last night (via’s Coral Smith). “We took a shot and it didn’t work out. We own that. We take accountability for it. But I think, as I think you guys do, his story is still very much unwritten. I’m excited for Trey. Dallas stepped up and really wanted him and they came after him. And I think it’s going to be a great landing spot for him. I can tell everybody, it wasn’t for lack of effort on Trey’s part or on our part, that it didn’t work. Circumstances took hold and he struggled through injuries and this team’s ready to win. We like our quarterback room. We like Brock Purdy a lot, we like Sam Darnold and we like Brandon Allen. So we wish Trey all the best in Dallas. We’ll always care about that young man and admire his work ethic and the person that he is.”

As ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted this morning, Lance actually requested to be traded earlier this week after learning he’d be the third quarterback behind Purdy and Darnold. The young QB wasn’t necessarily looking for a chance to start elsewhere; according to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, Lance was happy with being the top backup in a different situation.

“He told us that he would like another opportunity to go somewhere where he had a chance to be the No. 2,” Shanahan said (via “We thought we got some good deals for him; there was a number of teams involved. To end up getting the fourth was a little better than we anticipated and clears up a lot of money and allows a better situation for him, too.”

Unsurprisingly, the Cowboys weren’t the only suitor for Lance’s services. Dianna Russini tweets that the Bills, Ravens, and Lions were among the teams that showed interest in the young signal caller. Russini adds that the 49ers intended to trade Lance to the AFC, but the organization pivoted to an NFC foe when they only received offers of conditional fifth-round picks (that were more likely to be sixth-round picks). Schefter notes that the 49ers began fielding offers for Lance on Thursday, and the Cowboys separated themselves from the pack on Friday.

Lynch and Shanahan weren’t the only members of the 49ers to speak kindly of Lance. Purdy mentioned how his former teammate helped him during his improbable run late last season.

“Going in last year and then him just being by my side from the get-go — sideline, meetings, in the locker room, wherever we are at — man, he’s been a real one,” Purdy said (via Cam Inman of the Mercury News). “…Lance helped me come into the league and welcome me with open arms and showed me the ropes to this whole thing. So can’t tell you how grateful I am for him and to have him in my life and to be here with him. So, forever grateful for Trey.”

Attention will now shift to Dallas, where Lance will serve as the backup to Dak Prescott. According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, the Cowboys had a second-round grade on the quarterback during the 2021 draft. That’s obviously a far cry from the third-overall pick, but it still goes to show that the organization believed the prospect could at least be a worthy NFL quarterback.

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.

John Lynch: ‘Most Likely’ Trey Lance Remains With 49ers

The news that Sam Darnold beat out Trey Lance for the backup quarterback job in San Francisco seemed to spell the end of the latter’s time with the 49ers. That may still end up being the case, but at least for now the team’s top decision-makers are exuding confidence in his future in the Bay Area.

The 49ers are prepared to proceed with Brock Purdy and Darnold atop the QB depth chart, and they are willing to entertain trade offers on Lance. The former No. 3 pick came at an enormous cost with respect to moving up in the 2021 draft, and any deal they agree to will bring back a far smaller return. Interest will be difficult to gauge on the 23-year-old given his extremely limited NFL experience. It is not a guarantee the latest round of trade talks will result in Lance finding a new home.

“I think [Lance staying is] the most likely option,” general manager John Lynch said during an appearance on KNBR aimed at addressing the situation. “As I said, we’re very happy with Trey. That’s probably the most likely option: That he’s here. If we could find a landing spot for Trey that is a really good one for him and works for our organization, that’s not something we’d turn a blind eye to.

“But that’s not where our focus is right now… There’s viable options for all players. But right now, Trey’s a part of our team and we’re going to move forward with that in mind” (h/t Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).

Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed that a trade allowing Lance a fresh start is something the 49ers – who have denied reports he was being shopped around the draft – would be open to if mutual interest existed to pull one off. Both Lynch and Shanahan declined to give a firm answer one way or another, however, if the North Dakota State product has asked to be moved. Lance publicly stated his intention to remain in San Francisco in May, but that was long before he learned he will begin 2023 as a third-stringer after heading into the 2022 campaign as the team’s undisputed starter.

Lynch added Lance is scheduled to take part in the 49ers’ preseason finale, coming into the game after both Purdy and Darnold have received their respective reps. That will give Lance one final opportunity to boost his stock with his current team, or showcase himself for an interested team looking to end his roller-coaster tenure in San Francisco.

49ers To Name Sam Darnold Backup QB; Team Exploring Trey Lance Options

Sam Darnold has beaten out Trey Lance for the 49ers’ backup quarterback job, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of report (on Twitter). As a result, the former San Francisco starter’s status going into his third season is uncertain.

Playing ahead of Lance in the 49ers’ second preseason game, Darnold had been expected to begin the season as Brock Purdy‘s backup. Wednesday’s announcement, however, brings clarity on one end and adds doubt on another. After going into last season as the 49ers’ unquestioned starter, Lance has seen his stock crater. Lance is not at 49ers practice Wednesday, the San Jose Mercury News’ Cam Inman tweets.

Rumblings about a Lance trade emerged before the draft, though the 49ers denied they were shopping him. Lynch spoke to Lance about the rumors, and the athletic passer indicated he was not seeking a trade. That all may change now. The Vikings were on the radar for Lance before the draft, and Rapoport suggested this as a landing spot for the Marshall, Minn., native. But the Vikes, who roster ex-49er Nick Mullens behind Kirk Cousins, drafted Jaren Hall in Round 5.

The 49ers have continued to shop Lance for much of the offseason, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini tweets, noting no significant offer has come the team’s way. In April, however, Russini notes the Vikings and 49ers were pretty far down the road on a trade (Twitter link). Considering the lack of evidence regarding Lance’s NFL capabilities, it is difficult to foresee the 49ers receiving an especially worthwhile proposal. That will put the organization to a decision with 2021 third’s overall choice.

Prior to free agency’s outset, John Lynch spoke of the 49ers adding another QB due to Lance coming off two ankle surgeries and Purdy rehabbing a torn UCL. Rather than that quarterback becoming a third-string option that drifted off the radar once Purdy returned, the 49ers signed Darnold. Kyle Shanahan has spoken highly of the 2018 third overall pick, who signed a one-year deal worth $4.5MM early in free agency. And the 49ers will go into the season with the recent Panthers starter as Purdy’s top reserve.

The appeal of playing in a 49ers offense housing three All-Pro skill-position talents (George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey) helped bring Darnold back to California. The USC alum is still just 26, and while he has been given considerable run as a starter (55 games), the 49ers represent a better situation compared to the Jets and Panthers offenses he piloted. Shanahan has made it clear Purdy is the starter, and he debuted for the team against the Broncos on Saturday. It is certainly interesting that Darnold — the No. 3 overall pick in 2018 — will back up last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, but even if Purdy’s leash should be lengthy, the 49ers have more stability at QB2 in the sixth-year veteran.

For Lance, this marks another setback in a career full of them. Shanahan had thrown cold water on Lance’s prospects in the spring. Rather than this being a three-way competition for the starter gig, the 49ers did not give Lance much of a shot to regain his job as Purdy rehabbed. The North Dakota State alum quarterbacked much of the second half Saturday, and although he fared decently (12-for-18, 173 yards), it is possible that becomes audition tape for another team now.

Lance’s past three-plus years have doubled as one of the strangest career arcs for any top prospect in NFL history. After Lance dominated as a dual-threat talent for a Division I-FCS dynasty in 2019, as a redshirt freshman, the COVID-19 pandemic nixed FCS football in 2020. Lance was limited to one game as a sophomore, and he declared for the draft. That monster 2019 showing still made him a top prospect, like fellow ex-Bison Carson Wentz was five years prior, but Lance went to a 49ers team that may not have been all in on him. Rumors swirled about Shanahan preferring Mac Jones.

Lance, 23, has not come close to justifying the 49ers’ nine-spot trade-up, which cost them two first-round picks. He has attempted 102 passes as a pro, starting only four games and finishing just three. The Week 2 start against the Seahawks last season, leading to Lance’s ankle fracture, may be his last cameo as a 49er. After years of injury issues at QB, the 49ers are in better shape now. Purdy is no longer under any restrictions, and Darnold is healthy. That said, Darnold has missed games due to injury in each of his five seasons. This included a high ankle sprain last year, though he has certainly been healthier than Jimmy Garoppolo as a pro.

It should be expected the 49ers will attempt to move their third-stringer; May pickup Brandon Allen remains on San Francisco’s roster as well. Considering what the 49ers gave up to acquire Lance, moving him will cement a major draft blunder for an otherwise successful operation.

49ers Still High On Trey Lance?

The 49ers’ quarterback depth chart (if fully healthy) will be much clearer when the regular season starts than it is now, as questions abound regarding the availability of starter Brock Purdy and the pecking order of Sam Darnold and Trey Lance. The latter in particular has become the focus of considerable speculation recently.

Lance has gone from clear-cut No. 1 to potential third-stringer over the course of less than one calendar year, with a report from last month indicating Darnold is believed to be the favorite for the backup role. Relegating the team’s 2021 third overall selection to emergency QB duties would of course be viewed as a signficant drop in confidence on the team’s part.

However, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports provided a more optimistic view of the situation, based in large part on the uncertainty San Francisco has under center. During an appearance on KNBR’s Murph & Mac program, he countered the idea that the 49ers are prepared to move past the North Dakota State alum in favor of Purdy, Darnold or another passer on a long-term basis.

“I don’t think the 49ers have enough information to tell you who is in line to be the backup,” Maiocco said (h/t David Bonilla of “I dispute the notion that the 49ers have soured on Trey Lance. I think… they like him now more than they ever have since they’ve had him with the 49ers, but they just don’t know how he would perform.”

Maiocco’s perspective will certainly be tested in the coming weeks when training camp and the preseason commences, but it is understandable. Lance is still under contract through at least 2024, and the fifth-year option could extend that one more season. The 23-year-old did not explore a change-of-scenery trade this offseason, and San Francisco was not active in seeking a potential trade partner. Further evaluating Lance – something which will of course only be possible if he is able to remain healthy for an extended stretch, something which has proven difficult at multiple levels of his football career – would be a logical course of action benefitting player and club.

Maiocco added that Darnold and Lance can be described as being on “equal footing” with respect to the upcoming QB2 competition. The former has had an underwhelming NFL career to date with the Jets and Panthers, and much remains to be seen regarding his abilities while surrounded by the 49ers’ impressive skill-position group. Regardless of how the summer unfolds, the team’s opinion of Lance will be worth monitoring closely.

Latest On 49ers’ Quarterback Situation

A year after spending the summer trying to trade Jimmy Garoppolo and then pivoting to a compromise that allowed the longtime starter to stay, the 49ers are late in another offseason headlined by an unusual quarterback situation.

Brock Purdy has resumed throwing, and’s Tom Pelissero notes (via Twitter) the Mr. Irrelevant-turned-starter remains on track to be ready for Week 1. Following his throwing program during the 49ers’ offseason sessions, Purdy will spend two weeks throwing in front of independent QB coach Will Hewlett and an orthopedic surgeon.

The 49ers’ party line continues to center around Purdy reprising his role as the team’s starter. The 2022 rookie revelation securing the job as expected would mark one of the more interesting conquests in modern NFL history, seeing as Purdy was chosen 262nd overall and will soon be participating in a training camp alongside two former No. 3 overall picks. Trey Lance and Sam Darnold spent OTAs and minicamp splitting the first-team reps in Purdy’s absence, but each obviously came into the NFL — Darnold in 2018, Lance in 2021 — in different realms as far as prospect pedigrees.

Going into camp, Darnold is believed to have the edge on Lance for San Francisco’s backup job, Adam Schefter of said during a recent Pat McAfee Show appearance (video link). The 49ers signed Darnold to a one-year, $4.5MM deal that came with $3.5MM guaranteed. The word of Darnold being ahead of Lance, who is tied to a $34.1MM fully guaranteed rookie contract, follows a report from earlier this offseason in which this was expectation.

In between the time Darnold signed and began his QB2 competition with Lance, the younger ex-No. 3 overall choice came up in trade rumors. The 49ers shot them down, and John Lynch spoke to Lance about the rumblings. It is worth wondering where the pre-draft rumors came from. While the 49ers have said they were not aiming to trade Lance, Schefter adds the QB did not produce a real trade market. It is not known what the 49ers would have considered an acceptable return for a player who has one season (2019) with extensive game work since high school, but Darnold staying ahead of Lance during camp would represent another setback for the ex-North Dakota State superstar.

The 49ers are planning to keep three quarterbacks, though only two figure to dress. Because of the Purdy and Josh Johnson injuries draining the drama from the NFC championship game, the NFL reintroduced the emergency QB rule. Teams can designate an emergency QB that is not part of an initial 48-man gameday unit. Plenty of reps remain, but as of now, Lance would project as San Francisco’s emergency passer.

Considering the 49ers tried to trade Garoppolo and give Lance the job without challenge last year, the latter being a real threat to enter a season as a third-stringer is a stunning development based on where his value stood as recently as last September. Eighth-year veteran Brandon Allen is also on San Francisco’s roster, signing shortly after the draft.

How a post-UCL surgery Purdy looks alongside Darnold and Lance once cleared will be another important component in the latest complex 49ers QB plot. For now, Purdy’s job is not believed to be under threat. That could conceivably change in camp, where Darnold might be the top competitor. Pressure will also be on Lance — who said he did not consider seeking an offseason trade — to stay afloat in a battle for the backup gig.