If you can’t beat ’em … acquire ’em?
Such is the question posed by ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer, who wondered aloud whether Dallas should execute a trade for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback C.J. Beathard — the new backup to Dak Prescott?
Archer’s suggestion, serious or not, came amid Sunday’s preseason finale in which Jacksonville handily defeated the Cowboys, 34-14. Beathard, an ex-Kyle Shanahan pupil, didn’t do much to contribute to the victory, completing five-of-10 passes for 86 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He was the Jaguars’ third-best QB behind reigning No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and second-year understudy Jake Luton.
But was he worse than the Cowboys’ collective of Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush, and Ben DiNucci? Debatable. The trio combined for 196 air yards and a pair of scores — Rush (4/8, 16 yards) got the start, followed by Gilbert (9/16, 87 yards, one TD) and DiNucci (8/16, 93 yards, one TD) — jockeying for the QB2 job prior to Tuesday’s 53-man roster cutdown.
Speaking after the game, head coach Mike McCarthy intimated a winner hadn’t been decided and left open the possibility that the full-time backup isn’t currently on the roster.
“That’s what really what this next 24 hours will be,” McCarthy said, via the official Cowboys website. “We’ll watch it as a staff tomorrow and then we’ll get together with Jerry and Stephen and Will tomorrow afternoon and start the process.”
Beathard, 28, signed a two-year, $5 million contract with Jacksonville in March. He’s due to count $2.108 million against the 2021 salary cap. The Cowboys shouldn’t need to surrender more than a seventh-round flier for Beathard’s services.
Assuming the organization wants them, and presupposing they carry three QBs this season. Neither are sure bets.
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QB Pink-Slips Incoming?
The in-house Cowboys website on Sunday released “unofficial” final roster projections which include the club opting to retain only two signal-callers: Prescott and Rush. This leaves Gilbert and DiNucci on the outside looking in, although the article maintains “a lot can change in the next few days.”
If Dallas were to roster three passers, Gilbert figures to have the edge over DiNucci, a 2020 seventh-rounder who melted down in last week’s loss to Houston, tossing three INTs. The former, meanwhile, was featured by the website as a “standout bubble player” following Sunday’s exhibition.
For the first time in the preseason, Gilbert led the offense into the end zone for a touchdown. Gilbert didn’t start the game, but marched the backups down the field for a 75-yard drive and a TD pass to Aaron Parker. Gilbert might have grabbed back some momentum from Cooper Rush, who started but was ineffective in his first-quarter series.
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Dak ‘All Systems Go’ for Week 1
One month removed from straining his throwing shoulder, Prescott is “good to go” for the regular season. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones confirmed Sunday that his $160 million investment — the richest in franchise history — will start the Sept. 9 opener against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“He turned it loose and was none the worse for it,” Jones said, per ESPN’s Ed Werder. “The MRIs are showing all systems go. He’s throwing with velocity (and) emphasis. Throwing on the run.’’
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL