Cooper Rush

Cowboys Unlikely To Carry Three QBs; Trey Lance Expected To Claim Backup Job?

Trey Lance has been in the Cowboys’ system for nearly a year, but the former No. 3 overall pick has not gone through a preseason slate with his current team yet. While Lance joins most of the 2021 first-round QB quintet in being headed toward free agency, the Cowboys want to give the former 49ers draftee an extended look come August.

Set to resume a competition with Cooper Rush for Dallas’ No. 2 QB gig, Lance will likely see more time during the team’s three-game preseason slate. The Cowboys know what they have in Rush, who has spent almost his entire seven-plus-year NFL career with the team. As Rush goes into another camp with the Cowboys, he may be poised to wind up in an emergency role — thanks to another NFL rule change this offseason — in Year 8.

Although a recent assessment of the Rush-Lance matchup pegged the more experienced option as leading the competition for the backup job, that may well change once the team sets its 53-man roster. Lance is likely to be the second QB the Cowboys carry once they set their initial 53, The Athletic’s Jon Machota notes (subscription required).

The team is unlikely to put three QBs on its active roster, and Machota adds the former high-end prospect would need to “look awful” during camp and the preseason to not be Dak Prescott‘s top backup. This would stand to make Rush more of an insurance option, as the Cowboys hope their August 2023 trade pickup has another level to reach during their upcoming training camp.

It would be unsurprising to see the Cowboys prioritize Lance upon setting their roster, even if it came at the expense of Rush’s roster spot. Not yet a vested veteran, Lance would need to be exposed to waivers if the Cowboys placed Rush as Prescott’s only backup. Rush is a vested vet, and given his familiarity with the team, the former UDFA being open to sticking around as the emergency option on the practice squad seems realistic.

A number of teams will probably take this route, as the NFL has increased flexibility to stash a third-string QB on its taxi squad. While the 49ers’ experience in the 2022 NFC championship game prompted the league to reintroduce the emergency rule in 2023, its offseason rule change will provide teams more flexibility this year. Clubs can elevate a practice squad QB onto their 55-man gameday rosters as many times as they choose, which would allow the Cowboys to keep Lance from the waiver wire while Rush resides on their 16-man P-squad.

Joining Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Mac Jones as 2021 first-round quarterbacks to be traded over the past year, Lance is tied to a $5.3MM guarantee. He spent the 2023 season as Dallas’ No. 3 QB, with the team carrying three on its roster last year. As expected, the Cowboys passed on Lance’s fifth-year option ($22.41MM) in May. Lance, 24, has not thrown a regular-season pass since September 2022, when a broken ankle led to the 49ers changing moving to a course that eventually involved Brock Purdy making a stunning leap from Mr. Irrelevant to productive starter.

Lance, who famously only started one season at North Dakota State due to the COVID-19 pandemic nixing the fall schedules for Division I-FCS teams, has only thrown 102 NFL passes. The emergency QB rule would allow the Cowboys the chance to effectively keep Rush as their backup come Week 1 — in the event Lance truly is not ready — but they plan to give the younger option every chance to overtake the 30-year-old vet in August.

QB Notes: Broncos, Mahomes, Lance

By selecting Bo Nix 12th overall, Sean Payton and the Broncos added a potential franchise quarterback. Whether or not the uber-experienced college passer takes on starting duties as a rookie remains to be seen, though.

Denver used a rotation of Nix, Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson with the first-team offseason during spring practices. A report from earlier this month pointed to Nix being the favorite despite Stidham’s familiarity with Payton’s scheme. On that note, Troy Renck of the Denver Post confirms Nix “has ground to cover” relative to the 27-year-old who made two Broncos starts last season.

On the other hand, Payton has not been shy about praising Nix’s acclimation so far. The former Saints Super Bowl winner noted (via Renck’s colleague Parker Gabriel) the Oregon alum’s performances so far have matched the team’s expectations based on their pre-draft evaluations. As Renck adds, Nix could very well wind up getting the nod for Week 1. That would turn attention from Stidham’s perspective to a competition with Wilson for the QB2 gig.

Here are some other quarterback notes:

  • The top priority for NFL teams during this part of the year is having players avoid non-football injuries. As a result, the contracts of several players list specific activities which are deemed off-limits. In the case of Patrick Mahomesthat list includes basketball. The three-time Chiefs Super Bowl MVP would have the guarantees in his deal voided if he were to be injured playing basketball, as detailed by ESPN’s Marc Raimondi. Mahomes’ monster extension was restructured again in March to create cap space, but it still runs through 2031. Plenty of rolling guarantees (in terms of both salary and bonuses) remain on the contract, giving him ample reason to play things safe.
  • Trey Lance is on the books with the Cowboys for one more season, with the team having made the unsurprising decision of declining his fifth-year option. The former 49ers top-three pick did not play last year, and it remains to be seen if he will serve as Dak Prescott‘s backup. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes Lance is likely still behind Cooper Rush on the depth chart. The latter has made 26 appearances and six starts for Dallas, and he has one year remaining on his deal. With both Rush and Lance set to reach free agency next spring, their respective training camp and preseason performances will be key in determining the pecking order.
  • Taulia Tagovailoa‘s pro football career will begin north of the border. The CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Tua Tagovailoa‘s younger brother signed with the team. Taulia began his college tenure at Alabama, but he transferred to Maryland and enjoyed a successful four-year run there. Tagovailoa, 24, broke the Big Ten’s all-time records for passing yards (11,265) and completion percentage (67.1%) with the Terrapins before going undrafted into the NFL this year. He received a look from the Seahawks and Cardinals during their minicamps, but his attention will now turn to earning playing time in Hamilton.

Cowboys To Re-Sign QB Cooper Rush

MARCH 18: The deal’s base value checks in at two years and $5MM, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. The Cowboys are guaranteeing $2.75MM of their backup QB’s pact.

MARCH 17: Cooper Rush helped the Cowboys stay afloat during Dak Prescott‘s early-season absence last year, and the team will sign up for more from the veteran backup. The Cowboys are re-signing Rush,’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

The Cowboys’ latest Rush commitment will be a two-year deal worth up to $6MM, with Rapoport adding the deal’s first season and signing bonus will be guaranteed. The QB2 market has moved steadily this week, and the Cowboys will prioritize the player who helped them reach a second straight 12-win season. This will be Rush’s most lucrative contract to date; he was most recently tied to a two-year deal worth $1.96MM.

Rush has spent almost his entire career with the Cowboys, save for a stretch back with ex-Dallas HC Jason Garrett on the 2020 Giants. After the Giants cut him during that season, Rush found his way back to Texas. The former UDFA has been one of the longest-tenured backup QBs in franchise history. Counting that 2020 campaign he finished in Dallas, this will be Rush’s seventh season as Prescott’s backup.

While not needed much in his previous six slates with the team, Rush emerged as a borderline household name (weekly NFL-following homes, at least) in 2022. Prescott’s thumb injury led to five Rush starts in 2022; the team went 4-1 during that stretch, losing only to the Eagles in a nationally televised road game. The Cowboys beat the Bengals, Giants, Commanders and Rams with Rush, who totaled 1,051 passing yards and threw five touchdown passes compared to three interceptions. This came a year after the Central Michigan alum quarterbacked the Cowboys to an upset win in Minnesota.

Rush, 29, will work with Mike McCarthy for a fourth year, and after making just one start over his first five seasons, Rush will enter his seventh NFL slate with a higher profile and as a stronger security presence.

Cowboys Preparing To Start Cooper Rush In Week 6

Another week of Cooper Rush will be on tap for the Cowboys, who are preparing for one of their highest-profile matchups in recent years. Mike McCarthy said his backup will make another start Sunday night against the Eagles.

Out since suffering a thumb injury in Week 1, Dak Prescott is scheduled to throw for the first time since the injury Wednesday, Todd Archer of tweets. But the seventh-year Dallas starter’s timetable remains up in the air. Prescott had wanted to come back in Week 5, but he is on track to miss a fifth game as a result of this injury.

Jerry Jones said last week Prescott was still having trouble gripping a football. The Cowboys have understandably wanted their Pro Bowl starter to go through at least a week of throwing in practice before returning. With Prescott’s Wednesday session to be on the side, that stage of his return timetable has not yet begun. It opens the door for Rush to attempt to push his starter record to 6-0.

Rush’s unexpected run of success began in a Sunday Night Football cameo, when he quarterbacked the Cowboys to a road win over the Vikings last season. Rush, 28, began his Cowboys career in 2017, when he joined the team as a UDFA. He impressed Jason Garrett‘s coaching staff enough to become Prescott’s primary backup. The Central Michigan alum, however, did not make any starts during his first go-round with the team. Prescott began his career with 70 consecutive starts, taking over after a Tony Romo preseason injury in 2016, and Rush was with the Giants when Dallas’ starter went down with an ankle injury.

The Cowboys circled back to Rush in 2020, after the Giants waived him, and have seen that reinvestment pay off. Rush has completed 61% of his passes (7.1 yards per attempt) and has thrown four TD passes compared to zero INTs. Jones and McCarthy have stressed no quarterback competition exists here, but the Cowboys have seen Rush guide a 4-1 start — one that sets up one of the bigger Cowboys-Eagles matchups this century. Philadelphia enters Sunday’s game as the NFL’s last remaining unbeaten.

Dak Prescott Unlikely To Play In Week 6?

As Cooper Rush prepares to make a fourth consecutive start for the Cowboys, the recovery of Dak Prescott continues to receive plenty of attention. The Cowboys’ No. 1 quarterback is facing an uphill battle to play next week, as things currently stand. 

[RELATED: No QB Controversy Between Rush, Prescott]

Prescott would need to make “significant strides” to be available for Dallas’ Week 6 game against the Eagles, per Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The 29-year-old has been out since the season opener with a thumb injury which required surgery but not an IR stint. A four-to-six week recovery timetable is considered the schedule by which Prescott will be able to return.

That made it surprising when it became known the two-time Pro Bowler was eyeing today’s game against the Rams as the one in which he could suit up. As his ability to grip a football becomes the central issue, the thumb’s level of swelling will go a long way in determining the level of involvement Prescott can have during practice this week.

Pelissero and Rapoport add that Prescott will meet with doctors again on Tuesday to evaluate his progress. If he is able to make it onto the field in time, he could enter a very tight situation with respect to the standings in the NFC East. The Eagles head into today’s action as the league’s only remaining unbeaten team, and the Giants’ come-from-behind win over the Packers in London moved them to 4-1 on the year.

Rush will look to help the Cowboys keep pace today against the defending Super Bowl champions. His perfect record as a starter has led to some calls for a QB change even when Prescott is healthy, though the team has insisted that will not take place. Especially is the former UDFA can register another win, Dallas would be well-positioned to remain cautious with the return of their highest-paid player, something which may not take place until deeper into October.

Latest On Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush

Jerry Jones stirred the pot recently when he said he’d welcome a quarterback controversy between Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush. However, the Cowboys owner and GM quickly walked back his comments, stating definitively that Rush won’t supplant Prescott as the starter going forward.

[RELATED: Dak Prescott Targeting Week 5 Return]

“No. No,” Jones replied when asked if there was a scenario where the team would opt for Rush over Prescott (per Clarence Hill Jr. of the Dallas Star-Telegram). “As I see it right today.”

Rush has guided the Cowboys to three consecutive victories, and he’ll likely earn another start this weekend as Dak continues to recover from his hand injury. Jones noted that Prescott still can’t grip a football despite having his stitches removed more than a week ago. Considering the team’s public stance that their starter would need a week of practice before returning to the field, Hill opines that Prescott won’t be ready for this weekend’s showdown against the Rams.

The Cowboys never placed the QB on the injured reserve, leading some to believe he’d be able to make a return to the lineup before Week 6. Prescott himself stated that he was eyeing a Week 5 return date. It sounds like that won’t be the case, but that doesn’t bother Jones or the organization. Instead, the team sounds content with Dak making his return on October 16 against the Eagles.

“Well, I know that it’s better, and I know that he’s going to go out there every day and make progress toward being able to grip the ball,” Jones said. “I don’t know that you could ask for better news technically, physically in how it’s responding, how it’s healing so to speak. And, so, all of those things are on go, and I don’t know that you could make any more progress. There’s some things here about healing that I often say only the man upstairs knows how that works. But he’ll have a big week and he’ll be hard on himself getting ready to go.”

Cowboys Notes: Dak, Rush, Washington

We heard earlier this week that Dak Prescott was eyeing a Week 5 return, but Week 6 may end up being a more realistic target. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Dallas Star-Telegram tweets that Prescott won’t start throwing until the end of this week. Assuming the QB wants more than a week to ramp up, the Cowboys’ October 16 game against the Eagles may be a more realistic return date.

Prescott has been soft tossing but has yet to progress to “real throwing.” The fact that he’s throwing at all has led some to wonder if the quarterback could even return in Week 4 against Washington. Hill completely rules out that notion, and he suggests Prescott won’t even be ready for the Week 5 contest against the Rams.

Dallas can operate with a bit more caution after backup Cooper Rush has helped guide the Cowboys to wins over the Bengals and Giants. The team can continue to operate with some flexibility after not placing Dak on injured reserve, a move that would have kept him off the field through Week 5.

More notes out of Dallas…

  • Speaking of Rush, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post explores the Giants’ reasoning for moving on from the QB. After spending the first three seasons of his career in Dallas, Rush was claimed off waivers by the Giants in 2020. He had a brief stint on their practice squad before getting released, and that led to his return to the Cowboys. While Rush had fans in New York (including former head coach Joe Judge and former OC Jason Garrett), he also had some detractors, leading to the organization replacing him with Clayton Thorson. “The decision-makers with the Giants felt like they weren’t overly impressed with how he played or what his potential was,” Garrett told Dunleavy. “To me, Coop is not someone who wows you physically. Sometimes you get caught up in that. Sometimes those decisions happen.”
  • Meanwhile, wideout James Washington is still a few weeks away from returning, per Hill on Twitter. The veteran receiver signed with Dallas this offseason but landed on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury. He’ll be eligible to return in Week 5, but it sounds like he’ll need a bit more time to recover. Washington spent the first four years of his career with the Steelers, including a 2021 campaign where he hauled in 24 receptions for 285 yards.
  • Former Cowboys second-round pick Gavin Escobar was among two rock climbers who were found dead in a remote area near Idyllwild, CA, per the AP. The 31-year-old spent the first four seasons of his career in Dallas, appearing in 62 games. He bounced around the NFL a bit before ending his playing career in the Alliance of American Football.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/17/22

Today’s minor moves around the league, including practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s action:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

  • Promoted from practice squad: CB Daryl WorleyWR Raleigh Webb

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

Cowboys Sign QB Cooper Rush, K Brett Maher To Active Roster

In anticipation of only his second career start, Cooper Rush is set to officially join the Cowboys’ 53-man roster. He is being signed from the practice squad, along with kicker Brett Maher, per a team announcement. 

Both players suited up last week, of course, but in that instance they were designated as the two taxi squad elevations each team is permitted every week. For Rush, the move confirms the fact that he will take over for Dak Prescott as the team’s starting signal-caller. The duration of Prescott’s absence could be shorter than initially expected, but for the time being, Rush is tasked with keeping the Cowboys afloat and improving on the team’s underwhelming offensive performance in Week 1.

The 28-year-old’s only other start resulted in a victory last season, but with just 63 career pass attempts, little will be known or expected of him. Dallas also has a weakened offensive line in front of him, and a less accomplished assortment of pass-catchers compared to 2021, so the challenge facing him will be significant. Not surprisingly, the Cowboys are elevating Will Grier from the practice squad to operate as Rush’s backup. With Prescott expected to be back relatively soon, that pair will be leaned on, instead of a stop-gap veteran addition.

Maher wasn’t initially in the Cowboys’ kicking plans this offseason. Not long after the team began looking for outside options, however, the 32-year-old returned to Dallas. The Cowboys’ kicker in 2018 and 2019, Maher was responsible for the team’s only points in Week 1, making his only attempt. For his career, he has converted 77.6% of his field goals, a figure which, coupled with his familiarity with the organization, allowed him to make a late push to operate as Greg Zuerlein‘s successor.

Rush, Maher and the Cowboys will look to get into the win column on Sunday against the defending AFC champion Bengals.

Dak Prescott Undergoes Thumb Surgery

5:27pm: Prescott has undergone the thumb surgery, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). The operation was successful, but the wait begins. Rather than acquire another quarterback, the Cowboys are sticking with Rush. The former UDFA has been Dallas’ primary backup since Tony Romo‘s 2017 retirement. Prescott is expected to attend the now-Rush-centered position meetings as he rehabs.

8:51am: The Cowboys suffered a significant loss on the scoreboard and the depth chart last night, as quarterback Dak Prescott left the game with a thumb injury. He will undergo surgery to address the issue, which ESPN’s Todd Archer reports is expected to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks. As a result, Archer adds, Prescott will likely be placed on IR. 

During postgame availability, head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that the injury is “significant.” Prescott, meanwhile, offered a somewhat encouraging update by saying that the fracture in his throwing hand “was much cleaner than it could have been.”

Nevertheless, the injury is a crushing blow for the Cowboys, whose offense already faced plenty of questions heading into last night. Left tackle Tyron Smith will be sidelined until at least December due to a torn hamstring, and the injuries to wideouts Michael Gallup and James Washington leave the team with few established pass-catchers. Overcoming those absences will be significantly more difficult without Prescott, who will be on the shelf for the second time in the past three seasons after an injury-free start to his career.

The two-time Pro Bowler was limited to five games by an ankle injury in 2020, but still landed a $40MM-per-year deal the following offseason. He played in 16 games last year, posting an 11-5 record while throwing for 4,449 yards and 37 touchdowns. Expectations were high for he and the team again in 2022, but things have changed dramatically in the span of one night.

“It’s very disappointing,” Prescott said, via Bobby Kownack of“But injuries happen. You can’t necessarily control it. It’s just unfortunate… but I’ll do what I’ve always done any time adversity comes. Take it on headfirst, give it my best, and I’m sure I’ll come out of this thing better.”

Cooper Rush will now take over as Dallas’ starting QB; the former UDFA had made 11 appearances with the Cowboys before filling in for Prescott last night (but only one start). He, along with Will Grier, were temporarily let go of during roster cutdowns, but the team fully intended to keep both of them in the fold. Grier will likely be signed to the active roster from the practice squad, unless the Cowboys search for outside options to replace their signal-caller for the intermediate future.