Cowboys Linked to ‘Potential’ Trade for AFC Starting QB

Gardner Minshew

Getty Gardner Minshew fires a pass.

From the Red Rifle to Uncle Rico?

Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox laid the case for the Dallas Cowboys to acquire Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew to function as the direct backup behind Dak Prescott, upgrading a JAG-laden (no pun) positional group featuring Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci, and Cooper Rush.

Knox also named Chicago QB Nick Foles as another trade option ahead of the 2021 season.

“With Dalton leaving for the Chicago Bears this offseason, the Cowboys are looking at DiNucci, Gilbert and Cooper Rush as their insurance policy. The three quarterbacks have just two NFL starts between them,” Knox wrote.

“Again, the hope is that Prescott won’t miss any time. However, it would still be smart to bring in an experienced quarterback ahead of camp. Free-agent options are extremely limited—Ryan Finley and Matt Barkley may be the top options—but veterans like Gardner Minshew II and Nick Foles could potentially be available for the right price.”

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Background on, Cost for Minshew

One of the most eclectic NFL signal-callers in recent memory, Minshew has 20 career starts under his belt, all in Jacksonville. The 178th pick of the 2019 draft threw for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns, and six interceptions across 14 rookie appearances, and 2,259 yards, 16 TDs, and five INTs as a sophomore. He went 1-7 over eight starts last season for the moribund Jaguars.

Minshew, 25, became expendable after the franchise used the No. 1 overall choice this spring on generational QB prospect Trevor Lawrence. At last check, Minshew was competing with, and reportedly outplaying, C.J. Beathard for the team’s No. 2 gig.

The Cowboys have roughly $5.4 million in remaining salary-cap space, more than enough to absorb Minshew’s $897,904 figure in the penultimate year of his rookie contract. If acquired, the Washington State product obviously would leapfrog the depth chart, usurping Gilbert — the tentative backup QB favorite — and likely forcing either DiNucci or Rush (or both) off the final roster.

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Previously Connected to Foles

After losing Dalton in free agency, the Cowboys opted not to draft a quarterback nor sign any of the four they hosted on free-agent visits: Jeff Driskel, J.T. Barrett, Brady Davis, and Brett Hundley.

Thus, last month, John Owning of the Dallas Morning News urged the organization to pursue Foles, a former Super Bowl MVP and the “perfect candidate” to hold a clipboard for Prescott.

“I’ve mentioned it countless times throughout this offseason, but Dallas’ backup QB situation makes me nervous,” Owning wrote. “While the Cowboys season would be lost if Dak Prescott missed a big chunk of the season again, Dallas is still devoid of a backup QB who can keep the ship afloat even for just a game or two if Prescott gets knicked up.

“Therefore, I think it would be wise if the Cowboys gave the Chicago Bears a call about Nick Foles. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Foles would provide a significant upgrade over Dallas’ current crop of backup QB in terms of both ability and experience, making him the perfect candidate who can keep Dallas’ offense afloat for a game or two if Prescott is forced to miss time.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL