Dak Prescott

QB Notes: Dak, Ravens, Lance, Dobbs, Lions

Although a report earlier this month indicated the Cowboys and Dak Prescott had not begun contract negotiations, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe notes conversations occurred “throughout the offseason.” The Cowboys restructured Prescott’s deal in March, creating 2023 cap space but setting up a showdown of sorts in 2024. Because of the redo, Prescott carries what would be a record-shattering $59.5MM cap hit for 2024, the final year of his contract. Prescott, 30, will almost definitely not play on that number; no one has ever played on a cap number north of $45MM.

Because the Cowboys tagged Dak in 2020 and procedurally tagged him in 2021, part of the long-running negotiations that finally produced a deal in March 2021, they do not have a 2025 tag at their disposal. The Cowboys want to gain contract clarity with Prescott, Howe notes (subscription required), with CeeDee Lamb extension-eligible and Micah Parsons eligible in January. But the eighth-year QB will hold tremendous leverage, particularly if he can complete a bounce-back season, once the sides get serious about an extension.

Here is more on the QB front:

Jerry Jones Addresses Dak Prescott Contract; No Extension Talks Yet

The Cowboys restructuring Dak Prescott‘s contract this offseason gives their longtime quarterback some ammo. The reworking created a whopping $59.5MM Prescott cap number in 2024, the final year of his current deal. Already limited by the events of 2021 with Dak, the Cowboys have some work to do going forward.

Taking parts of three offseasons to agree to an extension, Prescott ended up playing his hand well. His price rose from 2019-21, and talks ended up coming down to the March 2021 deadline for teams to apply franchise tags. With Prescott having already been tagged in 2020, the 2021 number would have brought a cap sheet-clogging $37MM hit. As that deadline approached, the Cowboys hammered out a four-year, $160MM extension with the former Offensive Rookie of the Year. The fallout from that extension affects the team today.

Because the Cowboys applied a procedural tag on Prescott in 2021, it would be untenable for them to tag him a third time in 2025. While two years remain on Prescott’s deal, the 2024 cap number and the tag being out of play will equip him with considerable leverage. For now, however, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill notes the Cowboys and Dak have not linked up on extension talks. An extension would allow the team to reduce Prescott’s monster 2024 cap number.

The topic of a second Prescott extension surfaced this offseason, but the Cowboys had more pressing matters to address. They have taken care of those, giving Zack Martin a raise and adding more than $35MM guaranteed to end his holdout. They also extended Trevon Diggs, Terence Steele and Malik Hooker to prevent them from going into contract years. CeeDee Lamb looms as an extension priority as well, but he is signed through 2024. Micah Parsons certainly will be, too. The all-world pass rusher becomes extension-eligible in January but can be kept on his rookie deal through 2025 due to the fifth-year option the Cowboys will exercise by May.

Dallas also made a surprising trade for Trey Lance, with Hill adding Jerry Jones pulled the trigger without consulting Prescott or Mike McCarthy. Jones said the Lance trade did not come to pass because of a potential leverage ploy against Prescott, via The Athletic’s Jon Machota (subscription required), and added he wants the current starter in Dallas for a long time. Prescott, 30, declined to comment on prospective contract talks, via the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins, adding he was not surprised by the Lance acquisition. The former No. 3 overall pick is not expected to play this season, with Hill adding Lance could compete with the recently re-signed Cooper Rush for that job in 2024. Rush is now on a two-year deal.

While Lance counts only $940K on Dallas’ cap sheet this year, that number spikes to $5.31MM in 2024. Prescott’s 2024 number will need to be addressed, as no player has entered a season with a cap hit higher than $45MM. The Browns are in the same boat, though theirs is a bit trickier due to Deshaun Watson‘s 2024-26 cap numbers (all at $63.97MM) part of a fully guaranteed contract. Two void years are on Prescott’s deal. It would cost the Cowboys $36.5MM were they to not extend Prescott before the start of the 2025 league year.

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones Addresses Trey Lance Trade

The Cowboys won a brief, Day 3 picks-laden bidding war last night for Trey Lance last night. The move gives Dallas a notable name on the QB depth chart behind Dak Prescott, and owner Jerry Jones elaborated on the thought process behind the move on Saturday.

The Cowboys acquired Lance for a 2024 fourth-round pick – a pittance of a return from San Francisco’s perspective considering the price they paid to move up in the 2021 draft to select him third overall. The deal sorts out the 49ers’ situation under center with Brock Purdy set to be backed up by Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen. Dallas, meanwhile, has Prescott and Cooper Rush in place, along with Lance as a developmental project.

“Quarterbacks are a precious commodity in the NFL,” Jones said when asked about the deal (via Jon Machota of The Athletic). “We should have in the wings a quarterback on the come. When San Francisco called, I didn’t want them to hang up… We want to back Dak Prescott up as well as we can… You can’t have enough quarterbacks. We’ll see how it works out, but it’s worth any risk we’re taking here.”

Jones added that he does not foresee Lance playing during the regular season this year, but questions have been raised about how it could affect Prescott’s future. The latter is on the books through 2024, but he is due to carry a cap hit of $59.5MM that year. An extension for the 30-year-old aimed at lowering that figure has been on the team’s radar for several months now. The presence of Prescott for the short- and, in all likelihood, medium-term future did not play a role in the Lance deal.

Jones added (via ESPN’s Todd Archer) that Prescott’s financial situation was not a consideration when negotiating the Lance trade, and that the two-time Pro Bowler was not notified about the trade before it was official. The Cowboys have been eyeing a developmental passer in each of the past several drafts, with Jones saying the team was prepared to draft Jalen Hurts in 2020. They now have a 23-year-old to attempt to develop in Lance while relying on Prescott for at least the time being.

From a financial standpoint, Lance will not be a burdensome signal-caller until next year. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated tweets that the 49ers already paid out a $2.82MM roster bonus, leaving the Cowboys responsible for only his base salary ($940K) in 2023. Next season, on the other hand, Lance will be due a fully guaranteed $5.31MM. Where he stands in the Cowboys’ organizational plans by that point will be worth watching closely.

Largest 2023 Cap Hits: Offense

The NFL’s salary cap once again ballooned by more than $10MM, rising from its $208.2MM perch to $224.8MM. Factoring in the pandemic-induced 2021 regression, the NFL’s salary risen has climbed by more than $42MM since 2021.

This has allowed teams more opportunities for roster additions and opened the door for more lucrative player deals — at most positions, at least. However, it does not look like this season will include a $40MM player cap number. The Browns avoided a record-shattering Deshaun Watson $54.9MM hit by restructuring the quarterback’s fully guaranteed contract, calling for monster figures from 2024-26.

Here are the largest cap hits for teams on the offensive side going into training camp:

  1. Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs): $39.69MM
  2. Ryan Tannehill, QB (Titans): $36.6MM
  3. Jared Goff, QB (Lions): $30.98MM
  4. Jake Matthews, T (Falcons): $28.36MM
  5. Trent Williams, T (49ers): $27.18MM
  6. Dak Prescott, QB (Cowboys): $26.83MM
  7. Laremy Tunsil, T (Texans): $26.61MM
  8. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers): $23.8MM
  9. Amari Cooper, WR (Browns): $23.78MM
  10. Mike Evans, WR (Buccaneers): $23.69MM
  11. Ronnie Stanley, T (Ravens): $23.67MM
  12. Joe Thuney, G (Chiefs): $22.12MM
  13. Russell Wilson, QB (Broncos): $22MM
  14. Lamar Jackson, QB (Ravens): $22MM
  15. Daniel Jones, QB (Giants): $21.75MM
  16. David Bakhtiari, T (Packers): $21.29MM
  17. Kirk Cousins, QB (Vikings): $20.25MM
  18. D.J. Moore, WR (Bears): $20.17MM
  19. Matthew Stafford, QB (Rams): $20MM
  20. Brian O’Neill, T (Vikings): $19.66MM
  21. Taylor Decker, T (Lions): $19.35MM
  22. Deshaun Watson, QB (Browns): $19.1MM
  23. Braden Smith, T (Colts): $19MM
  24. Josh Allen, QB (Bills): $18.64MM
  25. Courtland Sutton, WR (Broncos): $18.27MM

As should be expected, quarterbacks dominate this list. Mahomes’ number checks in here despite the Chiefs restructuring his 10-year, $450MM contract in March; the two-time MVP’s cap hit would have set an NFL record had Kansas City not reduced it. The Chiefs did not restructure Mahomes’ deal last year, but if they do not address it — perhaps via a complex reworking — before next season, Mahomes’ $46.93MM number would break an NFL record.

The Titans have not touched Tannehill’s contract this offseason, one that included some trade rumors months ago. This is the final year of Tannehill’s Tennessee extension. Mahomes and Tannehill sat atop this ranking in 2022.

Cousins is also heading into a contract year, after the Vikings opted for a restructure and not an extension this offseason. Cousins does not expect to discuss another Minnesota deal until 2024, when he is due for free agency. Two relatively low cap numbers have started Wilson’s $49MM-per-year extension. The Denver QB’s cap number rises to $35.4MM in 2024 and reaches historic heights ($55.4MM) by ’25. The subject of a Goff extension has come up, and it would bring down the Lions passer’s figure. But Goff remains tied to his Rams-constructed $33.5MM-per-year deal through 2024.

Jackson and Jones’ numbers will rise in the near future, with the latter’s contract calling for a quick spike in 2024. Next year, the Giants QB’s cap hit will be $45MM. Watson’s 2024 hit, as of now, would top that. The Browns signal-caller is on the team’s ’24 payroll at $63.98MM. Long-term consequences aside, the Browns can be expected to once again go to the restructure well with Watson’s outlier contract.

The Raiders did not backload Garoppolo’s three-year contract; it only climbs to $24.25MM on Las Vegas’ 2024 cap sheet. The Bills did backload Allen’s pact. Its team-friendly years are done after 2023; the six-year accord spikes to $47.1MM on Buffalo’s cap next year. The Cowboys have gone to the restructure well with Prescott. Like Watson, the Cowboys quarterback is tied to a seemingly untenable 2024 cap number. The March restructure resulted in Prescott’s 2024 number rising to $59.46MM. Two seasons remain on that $40MM-AAV extension.

Another notable cap hold that should be mentioned is Tom Brady‘s. When the Buccaneers did not sign the again-retired QB to another contract before the 2023 league year, his $35.1MM dead-money figure went onto Tampa Bay’s 2023 cap sheet. The Bucs will absorb that entire amount this year. Brady’s 2022 restructure, after retirement No. 1, led to the $35.1MM figure forming.

Were it not for another O-line-record extension, the Tunsil number would have come in at $35MM this year. Matthews signed an extension last year. Moore would have come in higher on this list were he still on the Panthers, who took on $14.6MM in dead money to move their top wideout for the No. 1 overall pick. Sutton came up regularly in trade rumors, with the Broncos wanting a second-round pick for the sixth-year veteran. The former second-rounder’s high base salary ($14MM) hinders his trade value.

Cowboys Eyeing Multiple Extensions

The Cowboys have made a few notable outside additions this offseason, including the trade acquisitions of wideout Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. A number of internal extension candidates are in place, though, and getting deals done with several of them remains a priority.

EVP Stephen Jones indicated on Monday that the Cowboys have “in general touched base” with players in line for new contracts, such as quarterback Dak Prescott, receiver CeeDee Lamb, cornerback Trevon Diggs and offensive lineman Terence Steele (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). Each of those names have been linked to potential extensions during this offseason, with Prescott representing an obvious priority given his current financial situation.

The 29-year-old restructured his contract in March, a move which freed up considerable cap space for what has been an eventful offseason in Dallas. As a result, however, Prescott’s 2024 cap hit is scheduled to be $59.4MM, a figure which will need to be lowered significantly via a new contract. Team owner Jerry Jones made it clear (via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, on Twitter), however, that a new Prescott accord doesn’t necessarily need to be worked out before extensions for other key players.

Both Lamb and Diggs have been in Dallas for the past three years; while the former is under contract for 2024 via the fifth-year option, the latter is entering a contract year. The pair have each earned two Pro Bowl nods and are foundational pieces of the team’s long-term core. In came as no surprise, then, when it was learned in March that extensions for both were among the Cowboys’ priorities. Given the value of the WR and CB markets, second contracts for Lamb and Diggs will require a sizeable multi-year commitment.

In Steele’s case, a smaller deal may suffice to have him on the books beyond 2023. The former UDFA has emerged as a valued member of their offensive front, and will play on a $4.3MM RFA tender this season. Steele’s likeliest position this year appears to be at left guard, with both Tyler Smith and Tyron Smith in place to occupy the tackle spots. A strong season on the interior would add further to his value, and thus his asking price on the open market. Avoiding that situation with any or all of the aforementioned players over the coming months is front of mind for the Cowboys.

“The timing has got to be right for those guys and it’s gotta be right for us,” Stephen Jones said, via Machota. “Our goal would be to hopefully start to chip away at this… No specific order. It’s just kind of when opportunity arises. They gotta be motivated to want to do it. It seems like more and more guys want to wait… because usually the price goes up from one year to the next. People don’t seem to be as in that type of hurry, but if the opportunity is there we sure would like to get 1-2-3 of these guys signed. We’d love to do more than one.”

Cowboys Restructure Dak Prescott’s Deal

Entering Friday more than $16MM over the cap, the Cowboys have moved well under the 2023 salary ceiling. They restructured the contracts of Dak Prescott and Zack Martin, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

These revisions cleared approximately $30MM in cap space for the Cowboys, who recently allocated $10.1MM to a Tony Pollard franchise tag. The conversion involved around $29MM of Prescott’s 2023 base salary shifting to a signing bonus, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. This restructure will either bump up Prescott’s 2024 cap number or add more void years to his deal, but it will drop the quarterback’s 2023 cap figure from a historically high place. Prescott’s 2024 number now comes in at around $59MM, Archer tweets. That number will obviously be untenable for the team.

Prescott was set to carry a $49.13MM cap number this year. No player had previously played a season with a cap hit higher than $46MM, though Deshaun Watson is currently on track to do so. The Browns are considering restructuring their quarterback’s fully guaranteed deal, and Prescott’s restructure will only lead to more talk of another extension coming to pass.

Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said a second Prescott extension is likely to happen. The Cowboys have Dak signed on his $40MM-per-year contract for two more seasons. Prior to Friday’s restructure, the QB was set to carry a $52.1MM cap hit in 2024. With that number venturing deeper into uncharted waters via today’s transaction, Prescott extension talk figures to accelerate. The parties are not believed to have entered discussions about a new deal, but Prescott said recently he looks forward to an extension “when that time comes.”

This restructure will increase Prescott’s leverage, as Dallas will be eager to reduce his 2024 cap number. Daniel Jones‘ $40MM-per-year deal and the potential re-ups for Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert — and whatever happens with Lamar Jackson this year — also will work in Prescott’s favor. When Prescott and the Cowboys negotiated up until the 2020 franchise tag extension deadline, a deal in the $35MM-AAV range was rumored. It ended up being pushed to $40MM ahead of the 2021 March tag deadline. Once Hurts, Burrow and Herbert sign, the next round of Prescott talks could center around a number beginning with a 5.

I don’t want to dare do this to Dak or me or anybody,” Jerry Jones said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill. “But I think just as [Tom] Brady became better and better and more impactful on how they won as he got into his career, I think that really [Dak] has those qualities. I think he can get better.

Martin’s $14MM-per-year contract runs through 2024. The team is also in talks with Tyron Smith about a potential reworking, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The team is trying to reduce Smith’s $17.6MM cap number. Attached to the NFL’s longest-running contract, Dallas’ left tackle is finally near the end of that eight-year pact. It expires after the 2023 season. Two void years are already on Smith’s contract, limiting the Cowboys’ options with their 12-year tackle. The team is trying to keep Smith in the fold for a 13th season.

Cowboys Eyeing Another Dak Prescott Extension, Likely To Use Franchise Tag

Finalized at the March 2021 deadline for teams to apply franchise tags to players, Dak Prescott‘s four-year, $160MM deal remains one of the league’s most player-friendly agreements. The Cowboys have twice restructured it, and the contract calls for a whopping cap number this year.

Prescott is tied to a $49.13MM figure. No player has ever played on a cap number north of $46MM, though Deshaun Watson ($54.9MM) is on track to venture into unexplored territory after his outlier extension is set to spike on the Browns’ payroll. The Cowboys can create more cap space — up to $22MM — by restructuring Prescott’s pact for a third time, but executive VP Stephen Jones took it a step further.

We’ve got to have a plan to ultimately extend Dak,” Jones said, via ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. “… I’ve got all the faith in the world we can win this thing with Dak. We know what he’s about. His leadership skills are undeniable. Impeccable work ethic. Other than he hadn’t won some key playoff games, he’s everything you want in a quarterback.”

This will be Prescott’s eighth season at the controls for the Cowboys and his age-30 campaign. The team has gone to the increasingly popular void-years well with its quarterback, whose cap hit jumps to $52.1MM in 2024. It does not sound like the Cowboys plan on having him attached to his current contract by that point.

Prescott and the Cowboys negotiated this contract over three offseasons, beginning when he became extension-eligible in 2019 to the March 2021 accord. The complex process ended up benefitting Prescott, who saw the 2020 team crater without him. With this offseason potentially set to break down the $50MM barrier — via possible extensions for Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts — Prescott stands to be in good position when it comes time to discuss what will be his third Cowboys contract.

A 17-start season in 2023 would match Prescott with Roger Staubach for third in Cowboys history among QBs — behind Troy Aikman (165) and Tony Romo (127) — and although Dallas has continually encountered playoff roadblocks, it does not seem like any wavering is taking place. Mike McCarthy will now take over the Prescott-piloted offense.

Jones said the fourth-year Cowboys HC “made a compelling argument that making him the play-caller was going to help us.” Jones foresees a “noticeable change” in the Cowboys’ offense, which stood as DVOA’s No. 1-ranked unit during Prescott’s most recent full season (2021). Initially described as a mutual parting, the Cowboys-Kellen Moore split appears closer to a firing. Moore, who stayed on as the Cowboys’ play-caller during McCarthy’s first three seasons, is now with the Chargers. It will be interesting to see what changes McCarthy, who resided as the Packers’ play-caller for most of his 12-season Green Bay tenure, introduces.

Additionally, it looks like the Cowboys will unholster their franchise tag for a sixth straight offseason. After tagging DeMarcus Lawrence in 2018 and ’19, the Cowboys cuffed Prescott in 2020 and ’21 (the latter year a procedural move). They kept Dalton Schultz off the market last year. While Schultz can be re-tagged for barely $13MM, Tony Pollard is viewed as the team’s most likely tag recipient this year. Jones said (via Archer) the team will “probably use [the tag] again this year.” It would cost Dallas $10.1MM to tag Pollard, who joins Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs as running back tag candidates.

The Cowboys are $7MM-plus over the cap, as of Monday night, so they will need to get to work on cost-clearing moves and restructures soon to create space for a tag and reasonable free agency activity. Moving Prescott’s number down should take center stage in the coming days.

Latest On Odell Beckham Jr.

6:10pm: Adding further detail to Beckham’s visitation schedule, Anderson reports that the three-time Pro Bowler will meet with the Giants before heading to Dallas (Twitter link). In between, he is expected to meet with the Bills. Anderson adds that Beckham and his camp remain in conversation with the both the Chiefs and Ravens as he continues to draw significant interest from around the league.

3:30pm: The Cowboys and Giants are about to face off against each other on the field, but they are also in competition with respect to free agent Odell Beckham JrThe high-profile wideout is thought to be down to the NFC East rivals with respect to his decision on where to sign.

That decision is expected to come soon, but Beckham’s health is obviously a sticking point in negotiations. He tore his ACL during last season’s Super Bowl, leading to widespread expectation that a lengthy absence to begin 2022 would ensue. That could extend beyond the immediate future, however; FOX Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano reports that there is “considerable doubt” around the NFL that Beckham will be able to suit up at any point this season.

That could explain the slow-moving process by which the 30-year-old is weighing his options. CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets that the Cowboys are expecting a visit from Beckham in early December, with a different team hosting him sometime before then. That represents at least a slight shift in the expected timeline for a decision to be made; Beckham had previously been reportedly seeking to find his next home by the end of this month.

Dallas has consistently been the most vocal team while pitching Beckham to choose them over a shortlist of other suitors (which includes the Giants but also, at least recently, the Bills, Chiefs and 49ers). Continuing along those lines, quarterback Dak Prescott has been personally involved in recruiting Beckham, as noted (on Twitter) by Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The latter has made it known on multiple occasions that mutual interest exists between he and the Cowboys.

Members of the Giants are also taking part in the bidding war for Beckham’s services, however. Injured wideout Sterling Shepard has been in conversation with him on an everyday basis, as detailed by Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

“I talk to him every day, but we don’t talk about [his decision] too much,” Shepard said. “Obviously he knows that we want him here. He would love to be here. But everything has to play out for that to happen… And I understand that.”

The Giants’ WR room was far from highly-touted to begin the year, and the latest major injury suffered this past week (rookie Wan’Dale Robinson‘s torn ACL) leaves the unit severely shorthanded. Beckham could fill a significant void by reuniting with the Giants, though the same remains true of the Cowboys in that regard. Both teams will have a slightly clearer picture of their postseason outlook after today’s game, and could have a prized acquisition not long after.

Cowboys’ Dak Prescott Cleared To Return

OCTOBER 19: As expected, Prescott has officially been cleared to play on Sunday (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Jane Slater). That will allow him a full week of practice as he ramps up to his return against Detroit.

OCTOBER 17: Cooper Rush‘s starter stint is expected to stop at five games. The Cowboys anticipate Dak Prescott will receive clearance Tuesday and return to practice Wednesday, per Mike McCarthy.

The seventh-year veteran has steadily been building toward a return, and although he teased possible Week 5 and Week 6 comebacks, Week 7 against the Lions appears the window for Prescott’s re-emergence. Dak has been out since suffering a thumb injury in Dallas’ opener.

Prescott faced a four- to six-week timetable, and the Detroit matchup stands to bring a return on the back end of that schedule. But a Prescott return will obviously put the Cowboys in a better position to field an upper-echelon offense. Despite Rush’s struggles in Philadelphia, the sixth-year backup still fared better than expected during his stay in Dallas’ starting lineup. He is now 5-1 as a starter. Even factoring in Sunday’s performance, Rush ranks seventh in QBR.

Grip became an issue during the homestretch of Prescott’s recovery, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes grip strength remains one of the final hurdles here. A setback on this front could lead to another Rush start, but Rapoport adds no issues cropped up after Prescott’s pregame throwing session in Philadelphia (video links).

Dallas’ Tony Romo successor began his starter run with 69 consecutive starts but has missed time in each of the past three seasons. Upon returning from his early-season calf injury last year, Prescott finished the campaign with a career-high 37 touchdown passes and led the Cowboys to the NFC East title. This year’s team is 4-2 but now way behind in the division race, thanks to the Eagles’ 6-0 start. But the Cowboys did not fall completely out of the race like they did in 2020, when Prescott suffered a severe ankle injury.

Prescott, 29, is a two-time Pro Bowler and the 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year. While detractors have certainly emerged, Dak doubles as one of this era’s best draft picks due to the Cowboys landing a franchise passer in the fourth round. This is the second season of Prescott’s four-year, $160MM contract.

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 ESPN.com 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.