Would trading for the Josh Rosen give the Dallas Cowboys a better shot to win the Super Bowl in the next three years? I think it would.
Would you rather buy a brand-new car at sticker price or last year’s model that is slightly used at 40 percent of the sticker price? Or do you want to keep the car you have knowing that it is going to get a whole lot more expensive to operate?
While it is safe to say that Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones is not likely to worry about sticker price for any car he wants to buy given that he recently paid $250 million for a fancy yacht, he might want to consider this analogy when it comes to the quarterback position. Cowboys Director of Player Personnel, Stephen Jones, has stated that quarterback Dak Prescott’s next contract will need to be team friendly.
One can assume that Prescott, who has been severely underpaid through the first three years of his career, would want to start making up for the value he has provided the Cowboys.
Without a salary cap in place, I would have no questions that the Cowboys would pay Prescott what he is worth but this contract, the single greatest decision Dallas is likely to make in the next four years, is not without consequences for the rest of the Cowboys roster.
The Boys have paid DeMarcus Lawrence this offseason and have stated their intentions to reward Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, wide receiver Amari Cooper and cornerback Byron Jones. Prescott, Cooper and Jones are unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2019 season.
The Cowboys will also have a decision to make on linebacker Jaylon Smith, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of 2019, likely to be tendered at a first-round rate, currently set at $4.4 million. The Front Office also needs to be mindful that there are only 33 players currently signed through the 2020 season at a cap hit of $113 million according to Spotrac.com.
Assuming the Cowboys pay these players market conditions, you could expect Prescott’s contract to be near $30 million average per year (APY), Elliott’s at $16 million APY, Cooper’s at $16 million APY and Jones at $15 million APY. This would consume $72 million, counting Jaylon Smith’s tender and discounting Elliott’s fifth year option which was picked up, of the projected $75 million in cap space.
You can anticipate the Salary Cap to rise next year just like every year since the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed. But can you count on a $10 million increase affording you the flexibility you need given you would still need to sign at least 16 more players?
Another option would be to use future cap dollars to push these costs into the future. This will be a strategy that the Cowboys will employ to guarantee that they keep the players they want to keep.
But you need to be careful. If you get too creative, you could cause issues down the road that would remind you of former head coach Dave Campo’s three-year salary cap mess Cowboys from 2000 through 2002. Those teams had issues because former wide receiver Michael Irvin’s career abruptly ended on the hard field of Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, former quarterback Troy Aikman’s dead money accumulated when concussions ended his career on top of other cap mismanagement issues.
So back to Owner Jerry Jones pondering his quarterback. Should he stay with his current model that will increase in cost significantly? He knows what Prescott can do and hopes that he can achieve what he desperately desires – another Super Bowl.
Or could he look to buy low and trade for Arizona Cardinals 2018 first round draft Josh Rosen whose sticker price has dropped dramatically since the Cardinals made Kyler Murray the number one pick in the 2019 draft. Then he could sell his current quarterback at a high price assuming he finds a buyer.
The safe thing would be to pay Prescott $30 million APY and hope that the $28 million increase in cap hit will not compromise the team too much at other positions. The risky thing would be to trade for Rosen with his 2019 cap hit (for the Cowboys) at $570,000, 2020 at $2.1 million and 2021 at $2.8 million plus a fifth-year option.
The risky move nets the Cowboys about $84 million in cap space over the next three years plus at least two Day 1 (next year) or Day 2 (maybe this year) draft picks. Will Prescott’s play be enough to compensate for the players the Cowboys will lose (likely Byron Jones and others) plus two young and cheap high draft picks?
My view would be to take the chance that you get reasonable quarterback play from Rosen and that the superior depth at other positions will allow the Cowboys to follow the Seattle Seahawks’ 2013 Super Bowl winning formula by leveraging a competent quarterback on a salary-controlled contract to win the big game. What say you? Let me know in the comments below.