Welcome to the NFL’s free agency, where everything seems to be made up and the facts don’t matter. The latest episode features wide-receiver-turned-NFL-Network-analyst Michael Irvin, who recently visited WEEI to talk about his former team and a potential connection to the greatest quarterback of all time: the Dallas Cowboys, who may or may not be in the market for the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady should he enter free agency next month.
Irvin, one of the more outspoken characters the football media landscape has to offer, was asked about a rumor that the Cowboys could plan to use the franchise tag on their own impending free agent quarterback — Dak Prescott — with the intention to trade him and go after Brady. Irvin answered by saying that “some very significant people and I had some conversations leaning in that same direction and it was shocking.”
As soon as those words left Irvin’s lips, the rumor mill kicked into second gear: commenters and analysts all across the country started sharing their two cents on why the Cowboys should or should not go this route, or why Brady would or would not be smart to join “America’s Team” in free agency. But put aside the big names of all those involved in the conversation, and the speculation simply does not make a lot of sense.
This is not just true for Brady — the best case scenario for him would be to re-sign with the Patriots before free agency opens on March 18 — but the Cowboys as well as Blogging The Boys’ R.J. Ochoa noted about the rumors:
Brady is among the greatest of all time, so it’s not like we’re trying to dismiss the idea as one that would make the Cowboys worse or anything. Not to say that Dak is better than Brady, nobody is saying that, but committing to him long term makes far more sense for the Cowboys at this point than risking even Tom Brady.
R.J. hits the nail on the head. While the Cowboys are facing difficult contract negotiations with Prescott, investing in him makes more long-term sense for the organization than trying to not just franchise tag and trade him but also to bring Brady on board and have him adapt to a new system under offensive coordinator (and former Dak Prescott backup) Kellen Moore. Luring Brady to Dallas under these circumstances would likely require a hefty financial investment — money that could also go the 26-year-old Prescott.
While Brady could in theory be on the Cowboys’ radar as a potential short-term replacement should contract negotiations with Prescott go south, trying to hold onto its franchise quarterback appears to be the best course of action for Dallas and its de facto general manager Jerry Jones. Of course, facts like this oftentimes get overlooked in the name of trying to report breaking news or kick off viral rumors.
And for what it is worth, ESPN’s Jane Slater had the following take on the rumors (slightly adapted from Twitter speak):
I asked a team source about this as a hypothetical two weeks ago because I was curious why Dallas wouldn’t at least consider the possibility given the recent changes. The answer I got? McCarthy would be more inclined to want to work with a younger quarterback and develop him in Dallas. [...] I got the sense Dak was still very much their guy.
This perspective certainly makes sense, but it remains to be seen how both the contract negotiations between Brady and the Patriots and Prescott and the Cowboys will go — and whether or not the rumor mill keeps working in between.