Cowboys Come to Final Decision on Free-Agent Quarterback: Report

Cooper Rush next to Dak Prescott

Getty Cooper Rush next to Dak Prescott

Cooper Rush will carry a clipboard for another year.

ESPN’s Todd Archer reported Monday the Dallas Cowboys are likely to tender the backup quarterback and restricted free agent, keeping him under team control for 2020.

Archer didn’t specify, but it appears Dallas will use an original-round tender on Rush, worth about $2.14 million. This differentiates from the second-round tender they’re applying to RFA tight end Blake Jarwin, which costs $3.278 million, per Over The Cap.

A 2017 undrafted free agent, like Jarwin, Rush has spent his first three professional seasons working behind Dak Prescott. He’s attempted three career regular-season passes for a whopping two yards, adding 13 yards on two scrambles. He made a pair of appearances in 2019, at one point taking first-string practice reps due to Prescott’s shoulder injury, but never threw a live ball.

“That’s the job,” he remarked in December.

Rush, 26, will return as Dak’s understudy, assuming the two-time Pro Bowler inks his expected franchise tag or a long-term contract. There’s a distinct possibility Dallas again carries only two signal-callers on the 53-man roster when it’s eventually whittled down.

It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, the new coaching staff, led by head coach Mike McCarthy, can coax out of Rush — what they accomplish that the previous regime couldn’t. The Cowboys appointed a new QB coach, Doug Nussmeier, but retained coordinator Kellen Moore to ease the offensive transition under McCarthy.

Rush (6-3, 225) made 49 consecutive starts at Central Michigan from 2013-16, compiling 12,894 passing yards (coming thisclose to the all-time school record) and 90 touchdowns. He was a second-team All-MAC selection in 2015 and a third-team All-MAC choice in 2016.

The Cowboys have yet to tender their third and final RFA, defensive tackle Daniel Ross.

NFL free agency officially begins March 18.

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Dak Reportedly ‘Might Prefer’ Unconventional Contract

The Cowboys and Prescott are no closer to a contract resolution than they were in September, when Dallas reportedly made him an offer worth $33 million annually — an offer he promptly rejected.

But there may be a compromise, in the form of a short-term deal, similar to the fully-guaranteed, three-year, $90 million contract Kirk Cousins signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2018.

Per ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler, who confirmed he refused the $33 million-per-year proposal, this is the route Dak might opt to take, culminating in a massive windfall now and the opportunity to re-test the open market later, before he turns 30.

Coincidentally (or not), it isn’t the first time a resolution of this magnitude has been suggested. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Sept. 15 that Prescott was “holding out” for a shorter, lucrative pact rather than the extended-years megadeal some of his teammates had received.

The deadline to apply the franchise tag is March 12, after which the parties would have until July 15 to negotiate a longer-term arrangement.

Rapoport claims Dallas will exercise the exclusive tag in the absence of a long- or short-term contract. This would pay Prescott $33 million for 2020, roughly $6 million than he’d earn on the non-exclusive tag.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL