Why the Cowboys should seriously consider trading Dak Prescott

By Vincent Frank
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys and franchise quarterback Dak Prescott continue to be mired in a contract stalemate leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft.

Nothing has come close on this front with Dallas deciding to place the dreaded franchise tag on Mr. Prescott to prevent him from hitting free agency. The 26-year-old signal caller is now set to holdout from Dallas’ virtual off-season program.

The end game: Things are not going swimmingly between Prescott and his Cowboys. Jerry Jones has drawn a line in the sand. Prescott and his reps are hellbent on crossing it. Should this lead to Dallas thinking about trading the former mid-round pick?

The overvalue concept: Prescott’s new deal with the Cowboys would cross the $35 million per-year threshold. That’s a whole lot of cash for someone of his ilk.

  • In terms of pure stats, Prescott has been among the top-10 quarterbacks in the NFL since taking over the starting job as a rookie back in 2016. He’s started all 64 games, throwing for 15,778 yards with 118 total touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
  • Though, there’s a lot more to look at here than basic stats. Despite boasting a 40-24 record as a starter, Prescott has led Dallas to a 1-2 postseason mark. Sure there’s more than goes into winning in January than the quarterback position, but it is a bit alarming.
  • Prescott has thrown 22 touchdowns compared to 26 interceptions in the 24 games Dallas has lost with him starting. There’s definitely a correlation here.

The salary cap: This isn’t the 1990s with the Triplets. Dallas will have a hard time filling out a competitive roster if it were to sign Prescot to a record-breaking deal.

  • The Cowboys made Ezekiel Elliott the highest-paid running back in NFL history, signing him to a six-year, $90 million extension last September. If they had faith in Prescott being an elite quarterback, the Cowboys would not have paid that price.
  • More recently, Dallas handed Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper a five-year, $100 million deal in free agency. Combined, they are set to count an average of $35 million against the cap on an annual basis.
  • Add in the $35-plus million it would likely cost to sign Prescott to a long-term deal, and that leaves very little room to find major upgrades elsewhere and build up a deep roster.

Prescott’s trade value: Despite his asking price, Prescott would be of interest to multiple teams around the NFL. He’s still young and coming off a career-best season.

  • The starting off point in hypothetical Prescott trade conversions would have to be a top-15 pick in the draft and change. This would give Dallas value while saving money against the cap.
  • Pure conjecture here, but the Los Angeles Chargers might value Prescott over someone like Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Could Los Angeles offer up that selection to Dallas?
  • Definitely in a situation where they need to find a replacement for Tom Brady, the New England Patriots could have interest, too. At issue here is New England’s less-than-stellar cap situation. Even then, picking up Prescott would enable Bill Belichick to compete as he enters the twilight of his career.
  • Either way, Dallas would net a whole lot in return for Prescott. The idea of saving cap room, adding draft pick compensation and building a more well-rounded roster could make sense.

The replacement: Jerry Jones has committed too much in cold hard cash to this current roster. He’s not going into complete rebuild mode.

  • Like other teams, starting anew at quarterback would require two things to happen in Big D. That includes finding a stopgap starter and a quarterback of the future in the draft.
  • Former NFL MVP Cam Newton could potentially hold down the fort for a season or two while helping Dallas remain competitive. That’s especially true with Elliott being the central focus on offense.
  • Assuming the Cowboys receive a first-round pick and change in exchange for Prescott, it would use one of those selections on a quarterback of the future.
  • Dallas has met with Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts virtually in the lead up to the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s almost a spitting image of what Prescott was leading up to the annual event in 2016.
  • Utah State’s Jordan Love could also make sense in that his strong arm would have Jones drooling from the mouth. Both could sit behind Newton for a year or two before taking over.

Bottom line

It’s highly unlikely Dallas will even consider trading Prescott. It can have him play under the franchise tag in 2020 and reassess things next spring.

However, the best long-term solution for these Cowboys includes them seriously considering a blockbuster trade. Having $70-plus million locked up to three players on an annual basis is not sustainable in today’s hard-cap era.

And as noted above, there’s the entire Elliott situation. If Dallas has a ton of confidence in Prescott as a truly elite quarterback, it would not have paid Elliott $15 million annually last September.

Just some food for thought heading into the 2020 NFL Draft next week.