The Dallas Cowboys face many big decisions in this 2020 offseason. All eyes are on the starting quarterback’s contract situation, pushing the future of backup Cooper Rush far down the priority list. Still, Rush has his own free agency coming up and Dallas will have to make a move to keep him.
Rush signed a three-year deal in 2017 as an undrafted rookie. With that contract expiring, it leaves Cooper as a restricted free agent in 2020 due to only having three years of accrued seasons.
If Dallas does nothing, Cooper would enter the free agent pool with the same freedoms as most players. But the Cowboys could assign a RFA tender to the quarterback that would limit his options and likely keep him with the team.
However, it would come at a cost. According to Over The Cap, the projected RFA tenders for 2020 are $2.1 million for original draft pick compensation, $3.3 million for a 2nd-round pick, and $4.7 million for a first-rounder.
That means if a team wants to sign Cooper Rush, they would have to send Dallas one of those draft picks in return.
Given that Rush was an undrafted player, the original pick tender wouldn’t help the Cowboys in compensation. However, the $2.1 million might be enough to keep other team at bay and allow Dallas to retain him on a one-year deal.
But given that Cooper’s cap hit in 2019 was just around $647k, do the Cowboys really want to give him that much of a raise?
This is where the change in head coach could work against the player. The most valuable thing Cooper Rush provided is three years of experience in a system, but now that system just went out the door.
Mike McCarthy may decide he’d rather build someone from the ground up, and the front office would likely feel that you can do that with a much cheaper player.
Another potential outcome, one we’ve seen previously with other restricted free agents, is that Rush works out a modest deal to stay in Dallas. Better to commit to less money now than risk not being picked up at all by another team this offseason.
So clearly, at this point, predicting Rush’s future isn’t easy. Maybe he works out a bargain deal to come back and avoid free agency, or maybe Dallas values him enough to assign a larger RFA tender. Or, maybe the new coaching staff wants to go into a new direction entirely.
Whatever happens, we can say confidently that Dak Prescott isn’t the only quarterback Dallas has to worry about this offseason.