The Dallas Cowboys are a few days away from starting their fourth quarterback of the season against the ferocious Pittsburgh Steelers defense. They're 2-6 with no real hope for the 2020 season with Dak Prescott done for the year and the rest of the roster underperforming. Even in the terrible NFC East, Dallas' season feels over.
Naturally, attention turns to what will happen after the year. The Cowboys will have to make the choice to either sign Prescott to a long-term deal despite his gruesome ankle injury or franchise tag him again for massive money after doing so this season. Behind Door No. 3, the Cowboys could go in a different direction entirely by letting Prescott depart in free agency and acquiring a quarterback through other means.
On today's broadcast of The Herd, Colin Cowherd presented one such scenario. He suggested the Cowboys, if they have a high enough pick, take Ohio State standout Justin Fields in this upcoming draft.
First and foremost, I'd feel terribly for Prescott if this happened. While he was so good this year before he went down that he won't be lacking for suitors if he hit the open market, the injury will likely prevent any long-term offers. He may not even get paid as much as expected because of what the cap implications of coronavirus will bring. Prescott wouldn't get completely screwed, but it would be a tough spot for a guy who has bet on himself for two years running and was making the most of it before he got hurt.
Onto the football side of things. This could be a brilliant maneuver. The Cowboys have a lot of very well-paid players and giving big money to Prescott would make their cap situation very difficult. If they turned around from an awful season and emerged in 2021 with a good young QB in Fields who is, most importantly, cheap and cost-controlled for the next five years would be downright remarkable. It would be ruthless in regards to moving on from Prescott so quickly, but it could be a huge win in the end.
Of course, that is very much determined by how good Fields can be. He's looked great at Ohio State over the last year and few games, but he isn't the same talent as Trevor Lawrence, who looks like he'll be great from Day 1 no matter where he ends up. Fields has specific weaknesses as a passer that his coordinators will need to plan for in an NFL offense. His dual-threat ability is better than Prescott's, but he very well could never end up being a better passer than Prescott is right now. It would be a huge bet on a guy who will only have been a starting quarterback for less than a year and a half by the time the draft rolls around.
It's a very high-risk, high-reward move that I doubt Jerry Jones would be willing to make. This year, if anything, proves that the money invested in skill positions like running back and receiver don't pay dividends unless they have a reliable quarterback to feed them the ball. If Fields comes in and excels, it's a genius move. But if he stumbles, the Cowboys are stuck with a bunch of high-priced players and a QB who might need a few years to get to the point where he can elevate their play.
It would be very fun to see it happen, though. The NFL is all about big swings. The Cowboys would be betting whatever remains of their Super Bowl window on a rookie quarterback. It's a risky proposition, but certainly an entertaining one.