Nick Wagoner and Todd Archer5 minutes of reading
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — About two and a half years later The San Francisco 49ers drafted him as their franchise quarterback after Dre Lance’s time with the team was over.
Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Niners agreed to trade Lance to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick on Friday night.
The deal capped a whirlwind 48 hours in which Sam Darnold, who Lance reportedly beat out for the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Brock Birdie, sat out Wednesday’s practice and then returned to the team facility Thursday morning. Lance was scheduled to play in San Francisco’s exhibition finale against the Los Angeles Chargers on Friday night, but will instead travel to Dallas to join his new team.
Speaking on KNBR radio Thursday morning, Niners general manager John Lynch said he believes “most likely” the decision rests with Lance staying in San Francisco. But he also noted that the Niners would have room for a trade for Lance if a deal could be struck elsewhere.
“If Trey can find a landing spot that’s great for him and works for our company, that’s something we can’t turn a blind eye to,” Lynch said.
Lance is scheduled to make $940,000 in 2023 and has a $5.3 million salary in 2024, all guaranteed. In trading him, the Niners would take on $8,361,434 this year and $5,540,956 in 2024 in dead money hits.
After this season, Dallas will decide on Lance’s fifth-year option for 2025.
After Lance broke his right ankle in Week 2 of last season, trade talks surrounded him.
When the Niners signed Darnold in March, coach Kyle Shanahan noted that Lance and Darnold would compete for the No. 2 job behind Purdy. But Lynch admitted to receiving trade interest in the Lance prior to the draft in April.
As the Niners began fielding calls from other teams, Wednesday’s Lance No. That price dropped after being demoted to 3rd place. On Friday, a deal with the Cowboys was finalized.
Adding Lance doesn’t diminish the Cowboys’ confidence in Dak Prescott, but gives them some cover for the future.
Prescott is signed through 2024 and has $59 million to count against the salary cap next year. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has indicated he wants to extend Prescott’s contract, but there hasn’t been much conversation regarding a new deal.
Before Tony Romo went from undrafted player to Pro Bowler in 2006, the Cowboys went through several quarterbacks after Troy Aikman’s retirement.
The Cowboys drafted Prescott in the fourth round in 2016 and didn’t expect him to become a starter, but Romo suffered a back injury the season before and Prescott had been the starter the previous season.
Prescott turned 30 last month and has missed each of the past three seasons. He tied for the NFL lead in interceptions last year with 15 in 12 games. He missed five starts with a broken right thumb in the season opener.
On Thursday, he said it’s as healthy as he’s felt in years, now that he’s had his dislocated and fractured right ankle removed for three years. In 2021, he missed one game with a calf injury.
“I’m blessed. I’m grateful. I’m healthy,” Prescott said. “It’s one of those things that you don’t want to waste too much on, but yeah, I’m a lot different than I’ve been the last few years and I’m going to continue to stay that way and try to take care of my body.”
But he has yet to lead the Cowboys to the divisional round of the playoffs in four postseason appearances. The Cowboys’ last Super Bowl win came in 1995 and Prescott understands urgency.
“At the end of the day it’s all about pressure,” Prescott said. “So at the end of the day, I think we have to understand that our standard of wins is simple. We have a high standard and high expectations. Nobody wants to end this drought more than the guys in the locker room, I promise you that. For us, It’s about cementing our identity, we believe in our identity as a team and we go out there and play complementary football at all three levels. If we do that, I think it’s promising from training camp to now that we’ve built during the offseason.”
The addition of Lance means the Cowboys will now have three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster during the regular season.
In March, the Cowboys signed Cooper Rush to a two-year, $5 million contract that included a $1.25 million signing bonus. He was a 5-1 starter the last two years when Prescott missed games due to injury.
Will Grier no. 3 quarterback and is expected to play the bulk of Saturday’s preseason finale against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Niners originally used the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Lance, trading three first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Miami Dolphins to acquire the pick.
In San Francisco, Lance planned to play in limited packages behind then-starter Jimmy Garoppolo, but a preseason broken right index finger derailed any long-term plans that season. Lance suffered another setback last year with an ankle injury.
Lance started four games and appeared in eight contests in his two seasons with the team. He completed 56 of 102 passes for 797 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions during his time with the team.
According to ESPN Stats and Information Research, Lance’s eight games in the Common Draft era (since 1967 and excluding the 2023 draft class) are the fewest games played for a top-5 franchise in which he debuted.