Cowboys Veteran Could Emerge as Trade Candidate: Analyst

Mike McCarthy

Getty Cowboys QB Cooper Rush could emerge as a trade candidate in the offseason.

One of the Dallas Cowboys‘ more notable starters could emerge as a trade candidate before next year’s offseason.

According to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys’ Cooper Rush could emerge as a possible trade option next year if he continues to play well. The 28-year-old quarterback has gone 3-0 as a starter for Dallas, displaying efficient play while succeeding in taking care of the football (zero turnovers).

As Kyed notes, assuming Rush continues to play well during his stint filling in for Dak Prescott, he could eventually be franchise tagged and traded the way Matt Cassel was back in 2009 as a member of the New England Patriots.

“So, how does Rush fit into that mix? If he keeps winning, he’ll likely rise near the top (of quarterbacks in free agency), and the Cowboys will need to decide if they want to pay top dollar to keep him around as a backup or let him walk and collect a compensatory draft pick,” says Kyed. “We’ll wait until he produces more before we consider the option of Dallas franchising and trading Rush, as the New England Patriots did years ago with Matt Cassel.”

Rush Hints at Possibly Bolting Cowboys

The veteran quarterback is obviously making himself more and more money with each winning start. He’ll likely have another opportunity at a start when the Cowboys play the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in Week 5.

Rush himself has hinted that he believes he’s proven he can be an actual starting quarterback in this league.

Via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:

“I spoke to him [Rush] after the game. He said he thinks he’s proven he can be a starter in the NFL elsewhere, and he’s ignoring any noise about a potential controversy in Dallas — even if some if it is coming from Jerry Jones himself,” Florio said October 2.

NFC Exec: Rush Doesn’t Have Trade Value

The question is, does Rush actually hold trade value? Or has his play merely ensured that he has a free agent payday waiting for him from a team looking for a possible starting quarterback?

According to one NFC personnel executive, he doesn’t believe Rush has any trade value at all.

Via Heavy’s Matt Lombardo:

“I don’t think he really has much trade value at all,” an anonymous NFC personnel executive told Heavy. “He’s played well, but this really feels like another media darling quarterback situation.”

A Cowboys team source echoes a similar sentiment in that Rush is merely playing within the system. In other words, he’s not doing anything out of the ordinary that would warrant him being a highly-coveted quarterback via trade.

“[Cooper] is going out there and just playing within the offense,” a Cowboys team source told Heavy. “He’s not trying to do too much, and most importantly, he’s stacking smart decisions with the football.”

It’s hard to argue against that notion. The 2022 Cowboys are averaging 17.8 points per game, ranking 27th in the league. In Rush’s starts, Dallas is averaging 22.6 points per game, which would rank 14th in the league. While that’s a respectable number, it’s a far cry from the 2021 unit that ranked first in the league with 31.2 points per game.

When delving deeper into the statistics, you see the limitations with Rush at quarterback. For example, Dallas is converting on just 30.2 percent of their third-down conversion attempts this season (30th in the league). During Rush’s starts, the Cowboys are converting on 35.5 percent of their third-down attempts, which would rank 23rd in the league.

By comparison, the 2021 squad converted on 43.4 percent of their third-down attempts, ranking 11th in the league.

There’s little doubt that Rush has proven he is a viable backup in this league capable of being a short-term solution at quarterback. But until he does more, it’s hard to envision Rush having much of a trade market this offseason.

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