Seattle and Dallas find themselves in two very different spots: The Cowboys are in the middle of franchise quarterback Dak Prescott’s career, while the Seahawks have moved on from their franchise quarterback Russell Wilson after 10 years. Many expected Seattle to draft a quarterback, but the Seahawks elected to improve elsewhere.
As Bleacher Report’s Mike Chiari speculated in early March, Seattle’s quarterback room could change at some point within the next year. But for now Drew Lock and Geno Smith will likely compete for the starting job, according to The Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Dugar.
If Seattle is in the market for more QB competition, the Cowboys could help, thanks to a fleet of backups in Cooper Rush, Ben DiNucci and Will Grier. All three have NFL experience, but Rush’s surprise breakout performance in Week 8 of last year could make him an intriguing option. In that game, on the road against the Minnesota Vikings on October 31, Rush was 24-of-40 for 325 yards and two touchdowns against one interception.
In return for Rush, Seattle could offer something Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy said the team needs: a punt returner. McCarthy said that “player acquisition never stops. That’s definitely something we’ve got to get answered,” Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News tweeted on May 13.
Returning kicks for the Seahawks will be DeeJay Dallas, who also has carved a niche on offense. Dallas returned 33 kicks in 2021 for 764 yards while also rushing 33 times and catching 21 passes.
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The Appeal of Rush and Dallas
Dallas and Rush are not big-name players, so each team’s fan base may not be familiar with the other side’s player. Rush is entering his sixth season and hitting his athletic prime at 28 years old, while Dallas is entering his third NFL season and is 23 years old.
Rush’s appeal is primarily centered on his first and only NFL start. An undrafted free agent in the 2017 offseason, he signed a rookie deal with Dallas and appeared in just five games with no starts through 2020.
An injury to Prescott in 2021 gave Rush his opportunity in Week 8 against the Vikings. His impressive debut as a starter, which included a 92.2 quarterback rating, led to a 20-16 win for the Cowboys.
On the other hand, DeeJay Dallas’ appeal centers on his special teams abilities as a returner, but he is also another potential weapon in the Cowboys’ offense. The 2020 fourth-round pick was described as “slippery” in NFL.com’s draft analysis, and he is as versatile as offensive players come in the NFL.
Dallas has earned 490 total yards between his rushing and receiving capabilities, scoring five total touchdowns. He averaged 3.7 yards per carry, 6.4 yards per catch and 23.2 yards per return last year.
Why Deal Works for Both Cowboys and Seahawks
Earlier in May, Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Gehlken reported that McCarthy clearly stated that the Cowboys needs to add a kick returner, and said “player acquisition” never stops.
“CeeDee Lamb ascended to starting flanker. Cedrick Wilson is on Dolphins. So, who will be Cowboys’ punt returner in 2022?” Gehlken tweeted on May 13. “Mike McCarthy: ‘As Stephen [Jones] says all the time, and it’s so true, player acquisition never stops. That’s definitely something we’ve got to get answered.'”
Dallas could be that returner while also contributing in a minor role on offense. With Grier and DiNucci both on the roster, Dallas would still have competition for the backup quarterback job. Though Grier and DiNucci have only 97 pass attempts between them, the Cowboys seems to think they can be worthy backups.
Smith is a veteran in the league, but his ceiling has long been established as a backup first. Lock could excel in a new home but is still unproven. Because Seattle hasn’t landed a franchise quarterback, Rush could become more attractive.