Kellen Moore

Cowboys To Re-Sign QB Kellen Moore

The Cowboys are bringing back quarterback Kellen Moore, team owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas News). However, he declined to say whether Moore would serve as Dak Prescott‘s backup for the season opener against the Giants. Kellen Moore (vertical)

When Moore missed the initial 53-man cut, it was assumed that undrafted free agent Cooper Rush had won the job as Prescott’s top understudy. That’s not necessarily the case. The Cowboys will carry all three QBs on the 53-man roster, but it’s possible that one of Rush or Moore will be on the active 46-man roster. Even if all three are dressed for game day, Moore could be the one to get the call if Prescott goes down with an injury.

Moore, 29, spent last year on IR after suffering an injury that opened the door to Prescott‘s remarkable rise. He was retained with a one-year, $775K deal in March, but a poor preseason led the Cowboys to consider other options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Place Rico Gathers On IR

The Cowboys are placing tight end Rico Gathers on injured reserve, the team announced today. That will open up a roster spot that could be filled by the recently-released Kellen Moore, coach Jason Garrett tells reporters. Rico Gathers (vertical)

Moore was discarded prior to the initial 53-man cutdown in a move that left undrafted free agent Cooper Rush as the team’s No. 2 quarterback behind Dak Prescott. Nothing is definite yet, but it sounds like Moore could return to the roster to serve as the third stringer, or possibly the second stringer, behind Prescott for the season opener against the Giants.

The shuffling of QBs doesn’t make much sense on the surface, but the Cowboys likely felt that they would lose Rush if they exposed him to waivers. Moore, who they like for their offense, probably is not viewed as favorably league-wide.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Trim Roster To 53

The Cowboys navigated the busy cut week and moved down to the 53-man limit. Here are the players Dallas removed from its roster to reach the regular-season standard.

Released:

Waived:

Placed on Reserved/Suspended list:

Placed on IR:

Cowboys To Release Luke McCown

The Cowboys will part ways with both of their veteran backups and hand the No. 2 quarterback job to an undrafted rookie. Dallas informed Luke McCown of its decision to release him, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

McCown only spent a month in Dallas, but he and Kellen Moore represented the veteran depth behind Dak Prescott. UDFA Cooper Rush is now in line to be the only other passer on the 53-man roster. Although, Rapoport notes the Cowboys want to sign Moore to their practice squad. Despite being 29, Moore has only played in three career games.

The 36-year-old McCown has played in 62 and started 10 since breaking into the league in 2004. He signed with the Cowboys in late July — on a $1MM base salary — after the Saints cut him in April. McCown will cost the Cowboys $250K in dead money.

Rush started for four seasons at Central Michigan, but it’s interesting the Cowboys will turn to him as their only active-roster quarterback behind Prescott.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Cut Kellen Moore

Months after agreeing to re-sign Kellen Moore, the Cowboys will move on from the backup quarterback. Dallas will cut Moore, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

However, Rapoport adds the sixth-year backup could return to the team at some point. A year after carrying one of the most accomplished backups in NFL history in Tony Romo, the Cowboys are not exactly deep at this position. They signed Luke McCown in late July, but Rapoport tweets rookie UDFA Cooper Rush is set to be the backup quarterback for now (Twitter link). Rush played at Central Michigan.

The 29-year-old Moore did not play last season, spending it on IR after suffering a summer injury that opened the door to Dak Prescott‘s remarkable rise. He was brought in on a one-year, $775K in March but did not play well during the preseason. Moore last played in 2015, filling in for an injured Romo.

The Cowboys could remain in the market for a backup quarterback. Although Romo said he would only consider coming out of the broadcast booth and suiting up for his former team, Dallas is now somewhat vulnerable if Prescott goes down.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Elliott, Moore, Rush

Here’s a look at the Cowboys:

  • A delayed suspension for Ezekiel Elliott is not out of the question, Mike Florio of PFT writes. Elliott could turn to the court system for a preliminary injunction, like former Vikings Pat Williams and Kevin Williams once did, which would bar the league from suspending him until the case ends. The Cowboys star might not be able to get his ban overturned in court, but there’s a chance that he could push the suspension to the 2018 season, if he goes that route. Elliott has indicated that he will sue the NFL if necessary, but he will first go through the league’s appeal process to see if he can have his six-game suspension overturned or reduced.
  • Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan says he won’t rule out Cooper Rush for the team’s backup quarterback role just because of his lack of experience, as Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writes. Linehan also has a longstanding relationship with Kellen Moore, but he says that will not be a factor either. Rush has yet to take a snap in a real NFL game, but he has completed 69% of his passes in three preseason games with four touchdowns and no interceptions. His emergence could impact the Cowboys’ final 53-man roster as Dallas may look to carry three QBs. Dallas could try to sneak Rush through waivers and on to the practice squad, but that’s a dicey proposition after his strong showing in the exhibition games.
  • It’s possible that last year’s Josh Brown saga could impact Elliott in his appeal.

East Notes: Jets, Blount, Cowboys

It has been assumed for some time that Josh McCown would at least open the 2017 season as the Jets‘ starting quarterback, but the team needs to give Christian Hackenberg a look this year in order to see what they have in him, and to that end, Hackenberg got a surprise start in last night’s preseason matchup against the Lions.

It did not go well. Hackenberg took a big step backward from his solid outing last week, going 2-for-6 for 14 yards. He was sacked twice, he fumbled once, and four of his five drives were three-and-outs. Although head coach Todd Bowles attempted to take some of the heat off Hackenberg by pointing out that the offensive line did not give him much of a chance, Brian Costello of the New York Post believes McCown won the team’s starting job last night, and he didn’t even have to take a snap to do it.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions, starting with more from Gang Green:

  • McCown was initially supposed to take more snaps in last night’s game than he did in the Jets‘ first preseason contest, but Bowles said he changed his mind on Thursday night, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Bowles said McCown “has played in a million preseason games” and therefore elected to give Hackenberg a shot. However, Mehta reports that McCown was told by a media relations advisor to not speak with reporters after the game, even though McCown was apparently open to talking. It is unclear what the team’s motivation in “censoring” McCown would be, but it is an interesting move just the same.
  • Unlike Hackenberg, Jets No. 3 signal-caller Bryce Petty performed fairly well last night, going 15-for-24 for 160 yards and leading two field goal drives. Per Mehta, Petty has secured a roster spot unless he suffers a complete meltdown over the next several weeks.
  • Mehta also observes that Ross Martin, who made a pair of short field goals last night to go along with a miss from 56 yards, remains the front-runner to win the Jets‘ kicking job over Chandler Catanzaro, who missed a 55-yarder in the preseason opener but did not get an attempt last night.
  • Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount is coming off one of his best seasons, but he struggled to find a new home in free agency this offseason, and the short-yardage specialist may be on the roster bubble in Philly, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (citing Matt Lombardo of NJ.com) writes. Although Blount does not really fit the Eagles’ offense, it may not be wise to cut him, as Wendell Smallwood has had difficulty staying healthy, Darren Sproles is 34, and Donnel Pumphrey is a fourth-round rookie.
  • Cowboys No. 2 QB Kellen Moore turned in another poor performance during last night’s contest against the Colts, and while the team continues to publicly support him, an unnamed source tells Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Moore will be the subject of conversation at personnel meetings this week. It is unclear what that means at this point, because the team will certainly not promote undrafted rookie Cooper Rush to the backup job, no matter how well he has played, and the Cowboys have not yet considered adding a proven free agent to compete with Moore.
  • It was a different story for Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, who finally played in a football game last night after 596 days on the sidelines. Smith, who suffered a gruesome knee injury during the final game of his collegiate career on January 1, 2016, saw his draft stock plummet as a result and was ultimately scooped up by Dallas in the second round of the 2016 draft (he was originally considered a top-10, or even top-5, talent). The Cowboys knew 2016 would essentially be a medical redshirt year for Smith, but they also knew that, if Smith could overcome the injury, they could have something special on their hands. The nerve in Smith’s leg continues to regenerate, and as Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writes, Smith looked solid in last night’s preseason game. He was in for 12 snaps, he moved well, and he was quick to the ball, further solidifying the team;s belief that he will be a significant contributor this year.

Extra Points: Bills, Cowboys, Cards, Panthers

Bills first-round cornerback Tre’Davious White is performing so well during Buffalo practice sessions that new head coach Sean McDermott has scarcely noticed the rookie on the field, as Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News writes. “Really, I’ve had to sit back in my office up there and ask myself why haven’t I noticed Tre’Davious, in terms of why am I not concerned about him?” McDermott said. “As a defensive coordinator I was a lot closer to the defense at times, so I’ve been asking myself is it because of that or is it because he’s just integrated himself so smoothly into the NFL and what we do? He’s mature beyond his years.” The Bills traded down from No. 10 to No. 27 before selecting White, who projects as a Week 1 starter opposite Ronald Darby.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • While finding a backup quarterback appeared to be an important item on the Cowboys‘ offseason itinerary, the club may be content with incumbent No. 2 Kellen Moore, according to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. The Cowboys, who lost Tony Romo to retirement and Mark Sanchez to free agency, have expressed interest in veterans such as Josh McCown, but have yet to add another passer behind starter Dak Prescott. If Moore does stick as Dallas’ backup, it could be because he has a backer in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who refers to Moore as a “machine.”
  • The most interesting Cardinals position battle will take place at backup quarterback, where Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton will square off for Arizona’s No. 2 QB job, opines Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. Gabbert offers a first-round pedigree and has a supporter in head coach Bruce Arians, but Stanton is more familiar with the club’s offense after three seasons in the desert. The Cardinals would absorb $2.5MM in dead money if they release Stanton.
  • The Panthers announced that they’re hired former Illinois head coach Ron Turner as a consultant to the coaching staff. Turner’s most notable experience comes at the collegiate level (he spent the past three seasons leading FIU), but he also has an NFL resume. Notably, Turner served as the Bears’ offensive coordinator from 2005-09, a tenure that overlapped with that of Carolina head coach Ron Rivera, who acted as Chicago’s DC from 2004-06.

Extra Points: Kizer, Moore, Patriots, Jackson

We recently heard that the Browns‘ staring QB job is Cody Kessler‘s to lose, and while that still might be true, the team selected DeShone Kizer in the second round of this year’s draft for a reason, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Notre Dame product demonstrated superior physical skills during the first week of OTAs, especially with respect to arm strength and mobility. Cabot also says Kizer is picking up the offense quickly, and even if he does not start Week 1, he will get his chance early on in the season. Hue Jackson has spent more time with Kizer and will continue to do so, while quarterbacks coach David Lee will have a bigger role with Kessler, Brock Osweiler and Kevin Hogan, per Cabot.

I want to make sure I have my hand on him as much as I can,” Jackson said, via Cabot, of coaching Kizer. “I will continue to do so. I have to find out probably more about [Kizer] than I do any of the guys. He’s not going to get too far away from me, I know that. He’s done a good job. He just has to keep getting better. He’s improved from day to day.”

Here’s more from around the league.

  • With only four draft picks, the Patriots allocated a considerable amount of funds to their UDFAs. The Pats guaranteed $415K to their 19-man UDFA class, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Reiss pointed this out after Mike Zimmer revealed the Vikings spent $192,500 on their 13-man class, which the coach said was the most in his four years. The Packers, meanwhile, guaranteed their 20-man pool just $63K. The Pats were aggressive with possible late-round picks that slipped out of the draft in BYU linebacker Harvey Langi — who took up a sizable portion of New England’s total with a $100K base salary guarantee and $15K signing bonus — and Wyoming tight end Jacob Hollister, Reiss reports.
  • Cowboys 11th-year quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson would be on board with the team bringing in competition for Kellen Moore, who is entering his sixth season but has just three career games (all with the 2015 Cowboys) to his name. “I do think that we need to create competition for him, and that’s at every position, but especially at the quarterback position,” Wilson said, via Matt Galatzan of Scout.com. “So because he hasn’t played, if there’s a veteran out there that we want to bring in and compete against him, I’d be all for that, but if not, I feel very comfortable about him going out there and playing.” The Cowboys were in on Josh McCown but didn’t come close to matching the Jets’ offer. They signed Moore, who is coming off a season-ending injury, to a one-year, $775K deal in March.
  • Lamar Jackson dazzled the college football world last year, but Louisville’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback doesn’t strike NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks as a polished passer ready to make an NFL impact in that area yet. While Brooks described Jackson (1,570 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns) as a more explosive runner than recent dual-threat prodigies Marcus Mariota or Robert Griffin III, he needs to improve upon his footwork, passing mechanics and defensive diagnoses to elevate into a franchise-type passing prospect. Both CBS and the Sporting News had Jackson as a first-round pick in their way-too-early 2018 mocks.
  • Brooks also heard from an NFC scout that Penn State running back Saquon Barkley‘s early hype is justified going into what most expect will be his final college season. The anonymous evaluator viewed the junior Nittany Lion as a player who is as “complete as they come” at this position. This follows an NFL exec saying Barkley could be the best running back prospect in a decade.

Rory Parks contributed to this report.

Contract Details: Claiborne, Geno Smith

Let’s take a look at the details of some recently-signed contracts:

  • Morris Claiborne, CB (Jets): One year, $5MM. $2.5MM base salary. $2MM signing bonus. $31K per game bonus if on 46-man roster. (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the Daily News).
  • Lorenzo Alexander, LB (Bills): Two years, $5.95MM. Cap numbers of $2.55MM (2017) and $3.4MM (2018). $1.1MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $2MM (2017, fully guaranteed) and $2.45MM (2018; $300K fully guaranteed; $1MM guaranteed for injury only). $300K roster bonus due on third day of the 2018 league year and additional per-game roster bonuses of $6K+ in 2018. Incentives up to $850K (2017) and $1.25MM (2018) in playing time and Pro Bowl incentives. (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com).
  • Geno Smith, QB (Giants): One year, $775K base. $25K workout bonus. $800K in play time incentives. $12.5K per-game roster bonuses. Max value of $2MM. (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
  • EJ Manuel, QB (Raiders): One year, $800K. No guaranteed money. (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com).
  • Kellen Moore, QB (Cowboys): One year, $755K. $100K fully guaranteed (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
  • Tyson Alualu, DL (Steelers): Two years, $6MM. $1.75MM fully guaranteed. (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
  • Kevin Minter, LB (Bengals): One year, $4MM. $2.1MM guaranteed. (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).
  • Frostee Rucker, DE (Cardinals): One year, $1.08MM. $80K fully guaranteed. $500K+ available through incentives. (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).