Before the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys’ Cooper Rush had a seemingly secure position as the backup quarterback. But after Dallas drafted Western Kentucky’s Mike White in the fifth round, Rush’s return to the number-two spot on the depth chart isn’t nearly as certain.
In fact, Cooper’s spot on the 53-man roster is now potentially in jeopardy.
Last year, the undrafted rookie Rush put on a show in the preseason and forced his way onto the roster. This alone was an uphill battle; Dallas would’ve probably rather had just two QBs with Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore to save a roster spot for another position.
You may recall names like Matt Moore, Alex Tanney, and Dustin Vaughan, who themselves had nice preseasons as backup QB prospects for the Cowboys. But Dallas risked putting all of them on the practice squad, and subsequently watched Moore and Tanney get poached by other teams.
Whether it was a shift in front off philosophy, a lack of confidence in Kellen Moore, or just Rush being better than those other guys, the Cowboys didn’t risk loosing Cooper. They started the year with three QBs on the roster; the first hurdle cleared by Cooper Rush.
The next hurdle came in Week 7 when Rush jumped Moore on the depth chart to become the backup quarterback. Kellen was cut a few days later, leaving Cooper as the sole QB behind Dak Prescott for the rest of the year.
From undrafted rookie to QB2, taking out a coach’s favoring in the process, Cooper Rush was a great story in 2017. But now he gets a new challenge, perhaps even tougher, in his second season.
Many felt that Mike White was one of the Cowboys’ best value picks in the most recent draft. Acquired in the fifth round, White was projected as a Day 2 pick by several scouts with real starting potential in the NFL.
He certainly looks the part. Unlike the hobbit that Cooper Rush was dealing with last year, White is a prototypical 6’5″ with pro arm talent.
The threat of Mike White to Rush’s job security has a lot do with team management and how they want to handle the QB position. How many chairs will be available when the music stops?
Would the Cowboys be willing to risk Cooper Rush on the practice squad if they’re confident enough in White?
Draft status isn’t everything, but it’s certainly something. And while Rush appears to be a gem as an undrafted guy, White has being a drafted player and a four-year rookie contract working in his favor.
If Dallas were to cut Mike, they lose that four-year deal. Even if they later recalled him from the practice squad, he would now be on a one-year deal and go into the cycle of Exclusive Rights and Restricted free agency.
That’s if some other team doesn’t poach him. If Mike White was seen as a Round 2 or 3 prospect by others, he would likely get scooped up.
Ideally, Dallas won’t have reason or desire to cut either player. If Rush and White both perform well over the summer, the Cowboys will enjoy their burgeoning talent pool at QB and continue to grow both players. Perhaps one will become a trade asset in the near future.
But if Cooper Rush stumbles at all, and the team still prefers to keep just two quarterbacks, he could find himself on the chopping block a lot faster than you might think.