Cooper Rush has been part of the Dallas Cowboys for the last four years and yet has almost never seen the field. He remains on the roster now during this 2021 offseason, but what chance does he have of actually making the team this year?
Rush now has more seasons (4) than career passing attempts (3) so far in the NFL. After a three-year run from 2017-2019 as the backup quarterback in Dallas, he followed Jason Garrett to the New York Giants in 2020 but was released at the end of September.
Once Dak Prescott was lost for the year and backup Andy Dalton was also dealing with injuries, the Cowboys brought Rush back into the fold as part of the 2020 practice squad. He was active for one game last year as Garrett Gilbert’s backup against the Pittsburgh Steelers but never saw playing time.
After leaving Dallas once already and only being brought back under dire circumstances, it’s somewhat surprising that Cooper is still with the team today. But with the Cowboys not adding any additional QB talent so far via free agency or the draft, Rush is still hanging around for now.
That felt close to changing a few days ago when Dallas brought in veteran Jeff Driskel for a visit. I proposed with that news that Rush would be the odd man out if Driskel was signed, assuming Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci remain preferred options for the Cowboys at this time.
But Driskel left without a contract and thus left Rush, assumedly, with his roster spot for now. But am I, like most Cowboys onlookers, not giving Cooper enough legitimacy as a backup QB candidate in 2021?
Rush may not have any real-game experience but he only has one game less than Gilbert or DiNucci. And while Dallas let him go in 2020, they trusted him to be Prescott’s primary backup for the better part of three whole seasons.
We all remember how dazzling Dak was during the 2016 preseason. Well, never forget that Cooper Rush was almost equally impressive in 2017. And while he did slump a bit the following year, Rush looked much closer to that rookie form during his August appearances in 2019.
Also remember that in 2020 the Cowboys had re-signed Rush to a one-year deal as a restricted free agent. They only released him in May after adding Andy Dalton; a clear upgrade as a veteran backup to Prescott.
I can’t offer you anything concrete that says Cooper can or will be competing for the backup QB job in 2021. But this is just a reminder that the Cowboys have trusted this man before and, if not for the opportunity to sign Dalton, may have very well done it again last season.
Perhaps we all, myself included, need to stop dismissing Cooper Rush so easily for next season’s roster.