The Dallas Cowboys declined to pick up a fifth-year option for quarterback Trey Lance, putting the former 49ers first-rounder’s future beyond the 2024 season in jeopardy. Though the Cowboys reportedly may still support Lance as a backup passer, they saved $22.4 million by declining the option to extend the player.

Drafted by San Francisco with the third overall pick in 2021, Lance spent most of his rookie season behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo but was named the 2022 starter in his second season. However, he played in just two games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Brock Purdy eventually replaced him and led the team to the NFC Championship and Super Bowl in his first two seasons.

With Purdy slowly taking complete control of the starting quarterback role, the 49ers traded Lance to the Cowboys during the 2023 season. Declining his fifth-year option now is merely a formality, as Dallas is firmly behind quarterback Dak Prescott. Owner Jerry Jones said last month that Lance was trending in the right direction, but there are no plans to prepare him for the starting role in the future.

Though Lance is a victim of poor luck, he is still a contributing member of a notoriously weak 2021 draft class of quarterbacks. Of the five quarterbacks taken in the first round that year, first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence is the only one still on the team he was drafted by. Lance, Zach WilsonJustin Fields and Mac Jones have all been traded away, showing small flashes of ability during their careers but never enough to earn sustained success.

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Of that underperforming quintet, Lance is the only one who has yet to get an extended opportunity as a starting quarterback, as his only real chance in 2022 was cut extremely short by injury. If Prescott suffers a setback in the next year, Lance could get another chance if he can beat out veteran quarterback Cooper Rush for the backup position this offseason.

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