As Dak Prescott works his way back from a shoulder strain, Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged Thursday that there's "a good chance" that the quarterback won't play in the preseason.
The Cowboys have 11 days between their final preseason game and opening the 2021 regular season in Tampa Bay. Presumably, the Cowboys still believe that Prescott is on track to be ready for Week 1.
But what if Prescott has a setback and isn't ready for Week 1? Are the Cowboys prepared to start one of Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush or Ben DiNucci on a national stage against the defending Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers?
Even if Prescott is good to go for Week 1, the possibility exists that in the league's new 17-game schedule, he'll miss a game or two. It's true that if Prescott misses an extended period of time, the Cowboys are probably in trouble regardless of who their backup is. We saw that last year when Andy Dalton, seemingly one of the best backups in the NFL, went 4-5 in nine starts after Prescott suffered a season-ending compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. But could having a good backup -- one that maybe has to see extensive action in one or two games -- be the difference in making or missing the playoffs? Sure.
The price to acquire Nick Foles from the Chicago Bears surely can't be high right now, considering he's behind both the aforementioned Dalton and Justin Fields on the depth chart. Foles has a $6.6 million cap hit in 2021 -- Over The Cap estimates that the Cowboys have $5.43 million in cap space currently -- so there would have to be some financial maneuvering to make such a deal work. Perhaps the Cowboys are content to wait and see if the Bears just release Foles, but in waiting any longer, you're increasing how much of an uphill battle it would be to have him ready for Week 1 if needed.
Admittedly, it's hard to picture Foles -- the lone Super Bowl MVP in Philadelphia Eagles history -- in a Cowboys uniform. If not him, his former Jacksonville Jaguars teammate Gardner Minshew might make sense. Minshew is in the third year of four in his rookie contract, and will carry a cap hit of $897,721 in 2021. Certainly, Minshew has aspirations of starting again, but that's not going to happen in Jacksonville with Trevor Lawrence on the team. At the very least, if Minshew needed to play in Dallas, he'd be better set up to audition for potential employers than he would be in Jacksonville.
Certainly, the Cowboys will enter 2021 expecting to win the NFC East, or at least secure a Wild Card spot. It would seem that acquiring a backup with more of a track record than their current internal options would make sense to help them in that quest.
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