Cooper Rush

Cowboys Cut Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci

Same as it ever was. Dak Prescott will begin his sixth season as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback, and Cooper Rush is set to be his backup. The Cowboys, however, will part ways with two other quarterbacks — Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci — on roster cutdown day.

Gilbert and DiNucci played roles during Dallas’ dreadful 2020 season, which featured Prescott go down in October and Rush begin the season with Jason Garrett in New York. A year later, the Cowboys have restored their late-2010s status quo.

I just think that he’s shown that he can run the complete offense,” Jerry Jones said of Rush. “Credit to him, he had some tough competition. Those guys didn’t cut him any slack. He’s had a lot of reps – a lot of our quarterbacks have, because of the absence of Dak.”

Rush spent three seasons with the Cowboys, from 2017-19, and will be the only non-Prescott passer on this year’s squad. The Cowboys signed Gilbert off the Browns’ practice squad shortly after Prescott went down. DiNucci arrived in Dallas as a 2020 seventh-round pick. Both quarterbacks ended up making one start apiece last season, one that featured plenty of Andy Dalton, who departed for Chicago in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Toney, Bears

Most of the talk about Cowboys quarterbacks this offseason has understandably revolved around Dak Prescott, his new contract, and his comeback from a devastating ankle injury. But flying a bit under the radar is the team’s unsettled backup QB situation. Last year the team had an established veteran backup in Andy Dalton, who ended up becoming the starter when Prescott went down. Dalton is off in Chicago now, leaving Dallas with very little on the depth chart. The team currently has only Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush, and Ben DiNucci behind Prescott.

Rush has thrown three career passes, and DiNucci (a 2020 seventh-rounder) and Gilbert have each made one start. That’s led to some speculation the Cowboys could add a veteran backup. Barring a bigger name veteran addition, Gilbert is currently the “favorite” to backup Prescott in 2021, Rob Phillips of the team’s official site writes. Phillips frames it as a battle between Gilbert and Rush without even mentioning DiNucci, who was disastrous in his lone 2020 start in primetime against the Eagles. Gilbert almost led Dallas to an upset victory over the Steelers in his one start last year, and was a star in the ill-fated AAF.

Here’s more from around the NFC as we kickoff the new week and continue to await training camps:

  • Elsewhere in the NFC East, it sounds like the Giants are scheming up various ways to get Kadarius Toney involved as a rookie. New York has Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton already at receiver, so it might be hard for the 20th overall pick of this past draft to get heavy targets right away. That doesn’t mean Toney won’t get touches. The Giants are “motivated to get the ball in his hands, whether it’s out of the backfield, on jet sweeps, screen passes or maybe in the Wildcat formation,” Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. Raanan writes they want him to be a year-one factor, and that “they believe the best way to make that happen is to tap into his versatility.” In other words, use him as a gadget player. The Florida product should be fun to watch.
  • Heading down to the NFC South, Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown may have just had his probation terminated early to close his previous criminal case, but he still has civil case headaches to deal with. In addition to a lawsuit from a truck driver alleging assault that came in mid-May, Brown was apparently hit with another lawsuit later that month. This time, it’s from a sports marketing company alleging that Brown didn’t pay them commission on $2MM in earnings they got him, Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The company, KCB Marketing, is seeking over $100K in damages.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/5/21

We’ll keep track of the latest reserve/futures deals here:

Carolina Panthers 

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/7/20

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Cowboys To Bench Ben DiNucci

After his rough outing against the Eagles, the Cowboys will bench quarterback Ben DiNucci, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Instead, the Cowboys will allow Cooper Rush and Garrett Gilbert to compete for the top job in practice.

The Cowboys entered the season with one of the best starter/backup situations in the league. Then came Dak Prescott‘s injury, followed by Andy Dalton‘s concussion and COVID-19 diagnosis. That led the Cowboys to DiNucci, who is not quite ready for primetime.

A former UDFA out of Central Michigan, Rush spent three seasons with the Cowboys, spent a bit of time with the Giants, then returned to Dallas in late October. Rush has appeared in five games for the Cowboys, exclusively in a mop-up role. Gilbert, meanwhile, has no NFL starts to his credit — his only first-string pro experience came with the Orlando Apollos, a team in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.

Between the two, whoever emerges as the better option in practice this week will be the Cowboys’ starter against the Steelers on Sunday afternoon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Bring Back QB Cooper Rush

After cutting Cooper Rush in May, the Cowboys have seen their quarterback situation change considerably. As a result, they are bringing back Dak Prescott‘s previous backup.

Rush is on tap to join the Cowboys’ practice squad, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). COVID-19 testing protocols will prevent Rush from practicing with the Cowboys ahead of their Week 8 game against the Eagles.

The Cowboys tendered Rush as a restricted free agent in March but waived him after signing Andy Dalton. With Dalton having suffered a concussion, the Cowboys would be down to third-stringer Ben DiNucci if the veteran passer cannot clear concussion protocol this week. Garrett Gilbert would reside as DiNucci’s backup were that to be the case.

Previously, the Cowboys were thought to not be on the lookout for an outside quarterback, per Rapoport (on Twitter). But Rush is not exactly an outsider, even though he has yet to play in Mike McCarthy‘s system. With Kellen Moore still in place as offensive coordinator, Rush’s acclimation process will not take nearly as long as it would had he signed elsewhere.

A former UDFA out of Central Michigan, Rush spent three seasons with the Cowboys. He landed with the Giants via waiver claim but was cut in late September. Rush played in five games for the Cowboys, exclusively in a mop-up role, but will be back to help the franchise out in a dire time for its quarterback depth chart.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Add Alfred Morris To Practice Squad

Alfred Morris has resurfaced on the NFL radar. The eight-year veteran running back agreed to join the Giants’ practice squad, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

The Giants added Morris and quarterback Clayton Thorson to its taxi squad. Morris has been out of the NFL since the Cardinals released him in November 2019. To make room on their 16-man P-squad, the Giants cut running back Rod Smith and quarterback Cooper Rush.

This will bring a former Jason Garrett charge to New York. The Giants OC coached the former Pro Bowler in two seasons in Dallas. Morris served as Ezekiel Elliott‘s backup/suspension fill-in from 2016-17 but is certainly best known for his time in Washington.

Morris, now 31, strung together three straight 1,000-yard seasons with Washington and made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and ’14. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry with the 2017 Cowboys and gained 428 yards as a 49er in 2018. He played in one Cardinals game.

The Giants are down Saquon Barkley for the season, leaving them with Wayne Gallman, offseason addition Dion Lewis and recent signing Devonta Freeman. They rank last in the NFL in rushing, having gained just 170 yards (3.2 per carry) in three games.

Thorson spent time on the Cowboys’ practice squad in Garrett’s final season, playing behind Rush — who resided on Dallas’ active roster. The Giants brought Smith back earlier this month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Cut Jon Halapio, Slash Roster To 53

The Giants revealed the moves they made to pare their roster down to 53 players. Here are the cuts Big Blue made Saturday:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

The two quarterback cuts will leave Daniel Jones and Colt McCoy as the Giants’ only two quarterbacks to start their post-Eli Manning era, though Rush certainly would profile as a practice squad candidate. He played for new OC Jason Garrett in Dallas for three seasons.
Connelly’s cut is somewhat surprising, given the linebacker’s three starts last season. But an injury cut short his rookie season. The Giants can place 16 players on their practice squad this season. If Connelly clears waivers, it is likely he will be part of that group.
The Giants re-signed Halapio days ago. He has been Big Blue’s starting center in each of their past two Week 1 games, and the former Patriots draft pick started 15 games in 2019. The Giants did not tender Halapio as an RFA this offseason and kept Nick Gates, whom they extended this year, and Spencer Pulley on the roster over him.

Contract Details: 5/13/20

We will round up the contract details of recent signings/restructures right here as they come in today:

  • Ted Ginn Jr, WR (Bears): One year. Veteran salary benefit worth $1.187MM. $137.5K signing bonus, $1.05MM salary ($750K guaranteed). Cap charge of $887,500 (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Cooper Rush, QB (Giants): Restructure. One-year, $1.25MM. $100K signing bonus. $900K salary ($50K guaranteed). Up to $250K in per game active roster bonuses (Twitter link via Wilson).

Clearly, while Rush got some guaranteed cash through his restructure — as opposed to the non-guaranteed $2.113MM tender he was scheduled to play on — it “only” amounts to $150K. So that may not tell us too much about Big Blue’s plans for him.

Giants Renegotiate Cooper Rush’s Deal

Cooper Rush has a new team and a new contract. On Friday, the Giants reworked the quarterback’s deal to reduce his overall price while providing him with some guaranteed dollars (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). 

[RELATED: Giants Sign Mr. Irrelevant]

Rush’s original deal called for $2.113MM in 2020, but that sum was completely non-guaranteed. Now, Rush will see a base value of $1.25MM, with some portion of that being guaranteed. That could bode well for Rush’s chances of making the final cut.

The Giants have Daniel Jones locked in as their starter with Colt McCoy slated to serve as the QB2. Alex Tanney and undrafted rookie Case Cookus are also in the mix, meaning that Rush will be vying with four other quarterbacks for two spots – or potentially just one. Rush has a few things working in his favor. First, there’s the guaranteed chunk of his deal. Second, there’s his longstanding relationship with new Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. The same can’t be said for Tanney, a favorite of former head coach Pat Shurmur who has no guaranteed dollars on his contract.

Rush, 26, has appeared in just two NFL games since entering the league with the Cowboys in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.