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Trey Lance To Continue Career With Dallas Cowboys

James Murphy
by in NFL on
  • The San Francisco 49ers have moved on from Trey Lance, sending the quarterback to Dallas for a fourth round draft pick.
  • As recently as a year ago, Lance was seen as a future ‘franchise’ quarterback.
  • Lance is expected to back up Cowboys’ starter Dak Prescott.

No matter how good a player you might be, success in professional sports has a lot to do with luck and opportunity. It’s the reason that Tom Brady is considered among the greatest to ever play the game and not just a one time backup for Drew Bledsoe. Most recently, a chain reaction of events over the past two seasons has transformed quarterback Trey Lance from ‘the future of the franchise’ for the San Francisco 49ers to ‘completely expendable’.

The Niners selected Lance with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They even ‘moved up’ to get him, sending three first round picks and a third round pick to Miami so they could have the third pick. At the time, there was a strong opinion that San Francisco had ‘overpaid’ for the former North Dakota State quarterback but the team was pleased that they had secured a future franchise quarterback. The plan at the time was for Lance to be brought along slowly, learning on the job behind then-starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

It didn’t work out that way. Lance suffered a broken right index finger in preseason. The team maintained their enthusiasm for his future potential and named him the starter prior to the 2022 season. He would start only two games before suffering a season ending ankle injury which required two surgeries. In the meantime, second year quarterback Brock Purdy took over the starting job and led the Niners to the NFL Championship game.

That left Lance in a competition for the backup job behind Purdy with free agent pickup Sam Darnold. After he lost out to Darnold for the #2 slot, the Niners’ gave him the option of remaining with the team as a third stringer or seeking his fortunes elsewhere. He’ll now back up Dak Prescott with the Cowboys, though he’ll likely be the third stringer there with Cooper Rush slotted as second on the depth chart.

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t equivocate in addressing Lance’s departure:

“It was time to move on for him and for us. We’d love to just keep him until eventually it works out, but that clock ran out here, and that’s why we had to make a real tough decision, one we didn’t enjoy doing, but we try to do what we think is best, and this is what we think is best.”

Shanahan did give a tepid endorsement of Lance, making the obvious point that he needs to have more opportunity to play:

“I do think Trey needs an opportunity to play more. The opportunities he’s had here, when he has had those two opportunities, he got hurt. He kind of missed that window a little bit, gave an opportunity for someone else to do it, and that person did it and stayed healthy for those seven games and showed us something that we’re confident in. Trey kind of needs that again, and he didn’t get that here.”

Interestingly, there’s a developing set of circumstances in Dallas that could give him more of an opportunity. Dak Prescott is signed through 2024 and will produce a $59 million salary cap hit next year. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has publicly indicated that he would like to extend Prescott, but there hasn’t been much movement from either side in making it happen. The reality is that Prescott hasn’t done anything in the postseason during his tenure and carrying a massive price tag there are plenty of scenarios in which the Cowboys could move on from him, giving Lance the opportunity he didn’t have in San Francisco.

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