If the Dallas Cowboys hope to save their 2022 season, they'll need to make a splash at quarterback—and fast.
Dak Prescott is expected to miss at least six weeks after fracturing his right thumb in Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per ESPN's Todd Archer.
Cooper Rush is the only other quarterback on the Dallas depth chart and has not been particularly impressive in limited action during his career. Rush threw for 64 yards on 7-of-13 passing after replacing Prescott in Week 1, largely hitting on underneath check-down passes as the Bucs played deep coverage.
With Rush as the lone healthy quarterback on the depth chart, Dallas will have to make an immediate move to add another signal-caller before Week 2. Will Grier will likely be called up from the practice squad in the immediate aftermath of Prescott's injury, but it's possible Jerry Jones has far starrier targets on his mind.
Jimmy Garoppolo stands out as by far the biggest and best potential trade target. The Cowboys could also contact the New Orleans Saints about a reunion with Andy Dalton, who took over for an injured Prescott in 2020. Cam Newton is the biggest name on the free-agent market, but he doesn't seem like a strong scheme fit.
Garoppolo is the only home-run option here, and it's likely he's regretting his restructured contract with the San Francisco 49ers at this point. The 49ers are much less inclined to move on with Garoppolo under an incentive-laden $7 million contract, and they may even balk at trading him within the NFC.
That said, it's possible 49ers general manager John Lynch senses the desperation in Dallas and looks to pounce. San Francisco could ask for a Day 2 pick from the Cowboys for Garoppolo and walk away from negotiations if Jones and Co. try a low-ball offer.
Dallas envisioned itself as a potential Super Bowl team but will almost certainly miss the playoffs without a major upgrade at quarterback. Time is of the essence here.
Acquiring Dalton would come at a lower compensation cost and may be a more seamless immediate fit. He already knows the Cowboys scheme after playing under Mike McCarthy two years ago, and Jameis Winston appears entrenched as the starter in New Orleans after leading a thrilling comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
While no one would confuse Dalton with an elite option, he's a solid enough caretaker who could keep the Cowboys around .500 while Prescott heals. He threw for 2,170 yards and 14 touchdowns against eight interceptions with Dallas in 2020.
As far as Newton goes, he looked like a shell of himself after rejoining the Carolina Panthers midway through last season. His name value is far higher than his on-field production at this point, and we're four full years removed from him being an adequate passer in the pocket.
The other quarterbacks available on the free-agent market are equally uninspiring, though, and Newton at least brings a dynamic with his legs. Regardless, the Cowboys' offense is looking at a major downgrade at quarterback in the hours following one of their worse offensive performances of the McCarthy era.