ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys’on Aug. 25 from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a 2024 fourth-round pick felt spur of the moment. Well, that’s because it was. Team owner and general manager Jerry Jones didn’t tell anybody about the specifics of the deal, not even head coach Mike McCarthy, until it was complete.
“No, we, we didn’t tell anybody until we did it, period,” Jones said prior to the Cowboys’ preseason finale against the Las Vegas Raiders. “There was nobody that knew [about] it. We told Mike [McCarthy], after we had done it, but my point is we just wanted to get it done. Again, we didn’t waste any time. My point is, we didn’t, we didn’t want them, we didn’t want them to hang up.”
Jones doubled down on those comments on Tuesday, declaring he has the authority to formulate and approve trades without anyone else’s approval, given he is the Cowboys owner and general manager.
“I didn’t have to send it around,” Jones said on 105.3FM The Fan in Dallas, via The Athletic. “I can make that trade in 5 minutes.”
McCarthy approved of the decision to acquire Lance, per Jones, saying that McCarthy “liked him” as a quarterback coming out. McCarthy confirmed Jones’ story on Monday.
“I was involved in the evaluation, but the actual business component of it, I am not involved,” McCarthy said, via The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Those decisions come down to Jerry and Stephen.”
Jones ensured the Cowboys were one of the first teams to place a call to the 49ers about Lance, saying conversations began with San Francisco “the minute that we knew that they were serious about trading [Lance].”
Even though other teams have told their incumbent starting quarterbacks about acquiring other young players at the position, like when the Minnesota Vikings informed Kirk Cousins they were selecting Kellen Mond in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Jones has not done such a thing with Dak Prescott. Not providing such a courtesy was the beginning of the end of future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ historic tenure with the Green Bay Packers as the lack of communication sparked a divide between him and the team’s front office. However, Jones possesses an ironclad stance about looping other players into potential front-office transactions.
“We very seldom ever talk to anybody but not a player about another player who we’re thinking about drafting or who we’re thinking about getting [in free agency,” Jones said. “We don’t do that.”
When asked about an hour-and-a-half before kickoff of the Cowboys’ preseason finale against the Raiders if he had a chat with Prescott about the move, Jones had a simple answer.
“No, I have not.”
After the Cowboys’ preseason finale, Prescott said, “I didn’t expect to hear from Jerry on this beforehand, and as he would tell you, I can’t say that I expected it.”
Earlier this offseason, Jones stated that they would like Prescott, who is entering the final two years of a four-year, $160 million contract he signed in 2021, to be their quarterback for the next 10 years. The Lance acquisition doesn’t change his mindset on Prescott’s time with the Silver and Blue.
“That didn’t cross my mind, period, about an impact here regarding [Prescott],” Jones said. “I know Dak wants [us] to do anything we can do to improve this team.”
During the local broadcast of Saturday night’s game on CBS 11 KTVT, Cowboys COO and EVP Stephen Jones clarified the team’s long-term position on Prescott in more direct terms: that they would like to be in the Dak business for the foreseeable future.
“Just really felt like it was a chance for us to have a young guy [Trey Lance] in the room that’s on the come [up],” Stephen Jones said Saturday on CBS 11. “It certainly has no effect on Dak and his future. We look forward to getting his long-term contract signed sooner than later.”
Cultivating top NFL talent at the game’s most important position
The addition of Lance, a 23-year-old athletic specimen of a quarterback prospect who was a top-three pick, allows the Cowboys to do what they did back in 2016 when they selected Prescott in the fourth round of that draft while already having Tony Romo: constantly cultivating young, quarterback talent.
“Well, he [Lance] gives us an opportunity to do what we would always like to be doing,” Jones said. “It would be ideal with to have a young prospective developing quarterback that could just be in the room. I will use the term but be on the team with him [Prescott].”
Now, the Cowboys believe they have one of the NFL’s top quarterback rooms between Prescott, Lance, and the steady Cooper Rush, who is 5-1 in six career starts with Dallas with five coming last season.
“He [Trey] can take in my mind, us to one of the finest quarterback rooms there is because Prescott’s in it,” Jones said. “Prescott’s finest quality for me is how he takes what he does in the classroom and takes it to the practice field. This really was in our mind very much that he was gonna be coming into this situation with.”
Dallas has looked into this type move into each of the last three drafts, another motivator for why they jumped at Lance now.
“This is a quarterback driven league and, you know, we grade quarterbacks every year, Mike [McCarthy] has encouraged [this type of move] and we’re all for wanting to draft a quarterback for the last three drafts,” Dallas Cowboys COO and EVP Stephen Jones said Saturday. “The problem is we put third-round and fourth-round grades on guys and think they’re all gone about halfway through the second round.”
The younger Jones refused to get into specifics on where they had graded Lance back in 2021 when he was selected third overall out of North Dakota State.
“We won’t get into the exact specifics, but it was way up our board with three quarterbacks,” Stephen Jones said, likely referring to some combination of Trevor Lawrence (the 2021 first overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars), Zach Wilson (the 2021 second overall pick by the New York Jets), Lance, and Justin Fields (the 2021 11th overall pick by the Chicago Bears).
Lance wasn’t even the first quarterback that caused the Cowboys to consider supplementing their position room with a young, athletic talent. Jones revealed having a quarterback room with this type of dynamic almost led Dallas to draft Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and 2022 NFL MVP runner-up Jalen Hurts if the 2020 NFL Draft had gone their way. Hurts was selected 53rd overall in 2020, two picks after the Cowboys drafted All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs 51st overall.
“That was, the first thing that I wanted to make sure we were clear on, but the idea of having what we had seen when he [Lance] came through the draft and being able to work with it again with our quarterback room was, just an opportunity that, we have thought about many times try to get to, if he had hung around long enough, we might have done this on the Philadelphia quarterback [Hurts] back two years ago on it,” Jerry Jones said. “My point is that, this, we view it as an opportunity. It is our plan when we can, but it very seldom happens to have someone of a, of a high enough quality, to be there at the right place with our draft pick and this one worked and so we’re excited about it.”
One of the aspects of Lance’s game that Jones appreciated was his ball security in his rain-soaked start against the Chicago Bears in Week 1 of the 2022 season, a 19-10 49ers road loss. Lance threw for 164 yards and an interception on 13-of-28 passing. He additionally ran for 54 yards on 13 carries while also fumbling the ball once and recovering his own fumble.
“He played pretty good in the rain in Chicago, so he handled wet ball pretty good,” Jerry Jones said. “We view it [adding Trey Lance] as an additional, part of this team that could pay dividends this year.”
However, Jones was crystal clear on his desire to see Lance have to suit up for the Silver and Blue in 2023: absolutely zero as that would mean Prescott would have fallen victim to another injury.
“Well, he [Lance] will come in, but I don’t want to plan on, count on, or wish for help from him this year.”