Why the fifth-year option value for quarterback Trey Lance doesn’t line up with the Cowboys future

In theory the trade for Trey Lance was a smart and wise move from the Dallas Cowboys. For years we have all begged for the Cowboys to take a peek at some goods that another team might have fallen out of love with for one reason or another. Shopping for value can sometimes lead to striking gold, and in this particular case the Cowboys went to the original gold chasers in the San Francisco 49ers (not really, but just go with the analogy).

Where the trade for Trey Lance failed to hold water was not necessarily that it cost Dallas a fourth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft that we would all like to be included in our mocks right now. Instead, it’s that the Cowboys have a big decision to make at the quarterback position with Dak Prescott and what feels like an inevitable extension (one that could see him land somewhere around $60M per year). So in a theoretical sense, the Lance trade would at least offer them some sort of potential out if they really wanted one. It does not and never did.

The Cowboys now officially know quarterback Trey Lance’s fifth-year option value

Recently we got news on several NFL fronts, including the official salary cap number for the 2024 season. Also part of the NFL’s announcements were fifth-year option values for the 2021 NFL Draft Class, where Trey Lance was the third overall pick by San Francisco.

These things have been able to be approximated for some time but they are now official.

3. Quarterback Trey Lance, Cowboys (via trade from 49ers) — $22.408 million (Basic)

While Lance carries a $5.3M cap number for this upcoming season, the fifth-year option is for the 2025 campaign if he were to be a part of the Cowboys for it (or any other team for that matter). Given that Dallas holds Lance’s rights it is their decision regarding his fifth-year option.

An important wrinkle about the fifth-year option is once exercised it becomes fully guaranteed, so if Dallas were to do it then they fully guarantee $22.4M for Trey for the 2025 season which makes carrying him next year an incredibly difficult/questionable thing given how little we have seen him play for the team specifically. This also theoretically makes trading Lance somewhere else in the effort to cash out difficult for the same exact reason.

In a perfect world Dallas would have traded for a quarterback drafted in 2022 who did not have this set of circumstances that had to be enacted in the same offseason that they were stuck regarding their starting quarterback’s contractual situation. This isn’t to say that the trade for Lance was a mistake, but it was hardly an act of brilliance that they are reaping the benefits from in the here and now.

Smart money says that Dallas will decline the fifth-year option which will set Lacne up for a contract year in 2024. This also makes trading him difficult, at least if Dallas wants to recoup their original investment of a fourth-round pick, given that nobody is going to want to give up anything for a quarterback that they have no control of in terms of future time.


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