Trey Lance trade was about minimal upside to the Cowboys and a blow to Jerry Jones’ ego – not Dak Prescott’s future

When the trade first fell through, the reaction across the NFL’s front offices to Trey Lance’s new home was similar to that of fans and analysts. At the top of the pro staff scouting checklist, Lance needed field shots for development, and was absolutely unwilling to contribute to a team staying within the competitive window.

So why did the Dallas Cowboys come up with a fourth-round pick—with no playoffs—that no other team was willing to put on the table?

“Your guess is as good as mine,” said one of the AFC’s general managers. “They don’t want him to start this season. He’s still a third-string QB on a good roster — a deeper third-string in Dallas, because (Sam) Darnold didn’t play for the (49ers) and Cooper Rush won some important games in Dallas. He’s been Rush has been on their show for years.If the rating is fair, Trey should be far behind Cooper before you can even tell how far behind Duck he is.

This was not a one-time opinion. There was a common theme among many of the front office executives who responded to questions about cowboy logic. But there are some nuances to be found when it comes to how the trade affected quarterback Dak Prescott, the role team owner Jerry Jones played in the decision and how the Cowboys could gain some value by moving down the line. This is where the meat of this acquisition can be found. So let’s explore that.

Tangible influence on Dak Prescott

From an outside visual perspective, it puts an effect in the shell. The significance of this flaw is a matter of debate, but the fact is that Prescott had questions about the move that reached his doorstep, not to mention speculation about how it might affect the extension negotiations. Moreover, we are also left to interpret what it means that property was not his guide in trade. Finally, Prescott lost a friend in the quarterbacks room who was close to him, Will Grier.

Yes, Prescott had an awkward moment while dealing with reporters. But he’s been in the franchise for seven years and has always been adept at the tough way Jones takes his business. And while Prescott Grier lost, a source familiar with the Cowboys told Yahoo Sports that it was likely that Grier would be cut anyway. Furthermore, Prescott is not at all concerned about Lance as a teammate, who arrives without any personal encumbrances.

As one source said of Lance, “He’s a good kid and that just helps.”

The bigger issue is speculation about Prescott’s contract negotiations. Here’s the situation, in a nutshell, from the people involved in the extension: Neither side is concerned about an extension, and the general feeling is that if there is no collapse on the pitch, negotiations will be a no-brainer for both sides.

“This is media (stuff),” said one of the AFC’s general managers, referring to Lance’s potential influence over Prescott’s extension. “It doesn’t even make sense. You can say, ‘Well, if this or that happens’ but that’s just talk. That’s not what’s real. For him to push Duck any way, he had to play. And if you play him on Duck By your choice, you don’t stretch Duck anyway. Until the injury, I don’t think Lance will start again (Cooper Rush) either. … Lance really couldn’t beat Jimmy (Garoppolo), Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold. He’s down from two to three. (On the depth chart) and traded for probably the late (round) 4th overall. If he develops into the Duck a few years from now, that would be a pretty big win. So there’s really no threat at the moment. The way the Duck is playing this season is What matters to extend it.

The Cowboys deal for Trey Lance (15) doesn't mean much for Dak Prescott, but there is an element of a spin-off to it.  (Image via AP/LM Otero)

The Cowboys deal for Trey Lance (15) doesn’t mean much for Dak Prescott, but there is an element of a spin-off to it. (Image via AP/LM Otero)

As Jerry Jones declares victory, here’s what he didn’t say

Of course, this does not mean that there is no downside to all this. If Lance really isn’t much more than a third-tier quarterback with no prospects for Prescott, his addition is a paltry ego pump from Jones that only adds a distracting element to the mix. It’s an obvious aspect already, given the burning questions about head coach Mike McCarthy’s lack of involvement in the trade and Prescott’s lack of individual caution. The distraction does exist — but the only payoff so far is Jones telling the world that Dallas earned a second-round pitch over Lance in 2021 and earned him a fourth-round pick in 2023. It was a win Jones was eager to point out, regardless of whether it was the actual fit. It has no real meaning.

The part of the math that Jones left out is that Lance got a second-round draft pick on the Dallas draft plate before Anyone know what it was like to take representatives from the NFL. With that in the mix, the rest of the NFL wasn’t willing to offer him a fourth-round pick last week which basically means Lance Present Draft value is no higher than a fifth-round pick to other interested teams.

This is not to say that Dallas took a big risk in the trade. Not that the downside is insignificant. If anything, there might be some value to be found. With two years left on Rush’s contract, Lance could develop enough in training and a success program off next season to make Rush expendable. He could also play well enough in the 2024 preseason to make himself a viable free agent before the 2025 season – which could result in Dallas reclaiming a compensatory pick.

If we’re categorizing scenarios, these are far more achievable outcomes than Lance stealing Prescott’s job somehow without a disastrous string of quarterback injuries — not to mention Lance suddenly becoming the player he never got another chance at. These far-reaching developments will not stop speculation. How good Lance looks at any given moment is likely to be measured against how bad Prescott looks in every possible situation.

But a year from now, the clarity will likely look like this: Prescott will have made his extension, Lance will be well behind him on the depth chart, and the most impactful part of this whole trade will be that Jerry Jones has done it all, with a chance Very little to achieve the upside which made the distraction worth it.

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