Re-signing Dak Prescott is the safe choice for the Cowboys, but making a trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft for Ohio State’s Justin Fields might be a stroke of genius for Dallas.
Most Cowboys fans are fixated on how their favorite team can lock up Dak Prescott for the long haul this offseason. Admittedly, that’s the most likely course of action for Dallas. A more interesting idea might be engineering a way to land Justin Fields in Big D.
The Ohio State signal-caller is the consensus No. 2 quarterback in this year’s draft class. He does offer some things that likely No. 1 overall selection Trevor Lawrence does not. Namely, Fields projects to be the type of runner who can give NFL defenses fits when he breaks loose from the pocket.
Adding that extra dimension to the Cowboys offense could prove deadly for head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff. When healthy, Prescott is a mobile quarterback who can take what the defense gives him, but he isn’t a big-play threat. Fields is a player who can turn broken plays into long touchdowns if he gets by the first line of defense.
If the Cowboys let Dak Prescott go, Justin Fields could be his successor
The public relations nightmare of letting Prescott leave in free agency isn’t the only challenge the Cowboys face in this scenario. They’d also need to do a fair amount of work to move up in the draft to position themselves to land Fields. Projecting how far Dallas might need to move up is a pretty inexact science at the moment.
The Cowboys have the No. 10 overall pick. There’s a chance that might be good enough to land Fields without making a trade, but that’s a chance that Dallas cannot afford to take. If they really want to make sure they can land Fields they need to find a way to move into the top-5.
The Dolphins, Falcons and Bengals currently possess the third, fourth and fifth picks in the draft respectively. Miami might not want to take a quarterback since they spent a first-rounder on Tua Tagovailoa last year. The same can be said for the Bengals and Joe Burrow. The Falcons might not be ready to spend a premium selection on a successor for Matt Ryan. In short, those are the three teams that the Cowboys should target in trade talks.
The price of moving into any of those slots will be significant. The Cowboys will need to part with the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft plus a 2022 first-rounder. That’s not quite enough to make a jump of this magnitude. Dallas might also be required to part with another mid-round 2021 selection. Adding a third round pick in this year’s draft should be enough to get a reasonable deal done.
Parting with that much draft capital might seem like too steep a price to pay for moving up five slots, but the value of landing a potential franchise quarterback on a rookie contract is immense. If the Cowboys believe Fields has that kind of ability, they should be tempted to do what’s required to land him. It’s not a move that will win any press conferences in Dallas, but it could win them a Lombardi Trophy before Fields’ career is all said and done.