Yeah, I know- I felt a barrage of laughing emojis the moment I wrote that title. A serious question nevertheless. Why not look Dak Prescott’s way? The Detroit Lions are set to look reasonably different starting next season, from the front office to the field. With all of the uncertainty for the Detroit Lions, two things remain true.
Retool, if you will
First, they are retooling. Outside of the obvious at quarterback, the Lions have a laundry list of areas to be addressed. General Manager Brad Holmes stated that an entire roster evaluation would take place. This offseason will see 23 players become unrestricted free agents, including playmakers such as Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Romeo Okwara, Jamal Agnew, and Matt Prater- to name a few. The defense most certainly needs work, as they finished the 2020 season as the worst in Lions history, yes, somehow worse than the 0-16 season. That should be the primary focus in the coming offseason, as we’ve seen time-and-time-again, a great defense makes up for a lacking offense.
Questions at QB
Secondly, Matthew Stafford will be traded, leaving the most significant void on the team in 12 seasons. While the safest option remains drafting a quarterback with their seventh overall pick, that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t sign a free agent quarterback either. I will preface by saying that I don’t believe the Lions should draft a QB in this draft unless they can move up. The most common player in mock drafts for the Lions is Justin Fields, and I am not sold on Fields being the new franchise QB. Quite frankly, I think that the Lions could make a move and get a good-to-great quarterback via trade or free agency, the example being Prescott.
John Dorsey has a nose for sniffing out talent in the early rounds of drafts, and Holmes has had a vast amount of success in later rounds with his scouting prowess. [Holmes] should use this draft to address the other areas of concern on the team, not quarterback.
The state of Texas…QBs
Deshaun Watson and Prescott are among some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. While Watson has been vocal about leaving the Houston Texans, Prescott’s silence amongst the rumors doesn’t help ease any Cowboys uncertainty. The Lions and the Texans chances of completing a trade that involves Watson are very slim. Sure, the Texans called to inquire about Stafford, but it’s not that simple. Watson is more expensive than Stafford is; he also has a no-trade clause. Would he waive that to put on a Lions uniform? It’s plausible, especially if he likes the coaching staff and front office, which we know he wants no part of with the Texans organization. It isn’t in the Lions best interest to trade for Watson, who will command Stafford plus a first-round pick.
The Cowboys also made a call on Stafford, and that’s where it gets interesting. Completely separate of any talks with Prescott; if Jones wants Stafford in a Cowboys uniform, what’s the price? One of the most prominent question marks for the Lions next season is at wide receiver. For the Lions to entertain an offer, it must include Amari Cooper or Michael Gallup and the 10th overall pick. Two-birds-one-stone for the Lions with another pick and a highly talented receiver that’s under contract.
Dak to the future
Before the ankle injury, Prescott’s value was through the roof, now? The only real test of his recovery will be at game speed, making it a toss-up to his actual value. His brother Tad Prescott has been vocal about wanting his brother to leave the Dallas Cowboys organization because Jerry Jones was steadfast in a five-year contract. The entire situation became eerily similar to Earl Thomas and the Seattle Seahawks.
By now, you’re familiar with the Prescott situation, and let’s not forget that Andy Dalton wants to leave. Dalton believes he can be a starter somewhere and will test free agency. That puts Jones and the Cowboys in a bind, especially if Prescott does want to leave. With the report that the Cowboys were one of the teams that called –perhaps just due diligence– but that poses a question. Does Jones believe Prescott is leaving too?
Crunching the Prescott salary numbers
Franchise tagging Prescott is a likely scenario if the two sides cannot reach an agreement. Per Joel Corry of CBS Sports, placing the franchise tag on Prescott for a second-consecutive season would cost the Cowboys $37,690,800; the CBA mandates a 20% increase for the use of a franchise tag in consecutive years. Using the tag again is the straight-forward approach, but it’s pricy. The Cowboys may be heading towards a retooling of their own in the coming seasons. $231 million is the expected salary cap in 2023, which is why Prescott did not sign the Cowboys five-year offer. He wants to be a free agent.
How do the Lions factor in this scenario? Assuming that Prescott does not accept the franchise tag and no agreement on a long-term deal comes to fruition, he’s free. If the Lions new player-centric front office can woo Prescott, they could offer a two or three-year contract off the bat. This front office and coaching staff is not indicative of your “same ol Lions.” It provides a fresh start and change of scenery, and most importantly –for Prescott– that will allow him to be a free agent while giving him ample time to show the league that he has fully recovered. If the Lions and Cowboys agree to a deal separately with Stafford, Prescott could have a familiar target awaiting his arrival in Detroit.
Seeing Prescott in a Lions jersey would take some getting-used-to, but it could work. Even if only for two-to-three seasons to keep in-line with Prescotts’ wishes of going after a large contract with the cap increase. Salary caps and financials can be worked around in many ways; look no further than the Kansas City Chiefs with back-to-back Super Bowl berths. Nothing is off the table. There is a new regime in Motown; every player is being evaluated accordingly.