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What does the Andy Dalton signing mean for Cooper Rush with the Dallas Cowboys?

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The quarterback room is starting to fill up.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

On Saturday night, the Dallas Cowboys put themselves among the best in the NFL when it comes to backup quarterback situations by signing veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton. With the Red Rifle backing up Dak Prescott, the Cowboys now have a quality reserve if their starter has to miss time for whatever reason.

For the past three years the Cowboys have operated with the same backup quarterback in Cooper Rush. It was all the way back in 2017 that Rush went undrafted and fought his way onto the roster; Rush’s success in the preseason forced the team to carry him on the 53-man roster. He is part of the reason why Kellen Moore wound up coaching and becoming the team’s offensive coordinator as opposed to holding a clipboard for longer himself.

Rush’s ceiling with the 2020 Dallas Cowboys is as the team’s third quarterback and for a player in a contract year with a tender amount of $2.1M, that isn’t exactly good news.

It’s possible that Andy Dalton could signal the end of Rush’s time with the Cowboys. Here’s why.

It makes much more sense for Dallas to carry Ben DiNucci than Cooper Rush

With Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton cemented in their spots as the team’s top two quarterbacks, the third slot is the most attainable one for four-year man Cooper Rush.

The thing about that job is that if you were to put yourself in the position that the Cowboys find themselves in, it makes much more sense to devote that spot to recently-drafted Ben DiNucci. Dallas took DiNucci in the seventh round of last week’s draft and while he was taken near the end of the overall class, they obviously valued him enough to spend a draft pick on him as opposed to risking him to priority free agency.

Why does it make more sense to carry DiNucci than Rush? If either of these players are at best your third quarterback then, not only does it make sense to carry the cheaper one (seventh-round DiNucci as opposed to $2.1M Rush) but it is also more logical to hold on to the player that you have more roster control over. Dallas will have to figure out the Cooper Rush situation in 2021 if they go down that path where DiNucci is just beginning his rookie contract.

What’s more is that DiNucci is at the beginning stages of his NFL career while Rush is seemingly past the point of where the Cowboys might feel like they can develop him. On top of this, Rush was drafted under the previous coaching staff whereas Ben DiNucci is the first quarterback taken while Mike McCarthy and his staff is in place. All of the factors tend to lean towards DiNucci in this particular scenario.

So much of the future is unknown right now with the NFL, but assuming training camp and/or preseason happens then the Cowboys will obviously carry Cooper Rush through all of that at minimum. For what it’s worth, roster size in the NFL has grown from 53 to 55 so there is certainly more room to carry a third quarterback and if the Cowboys feel comfortable enough with the idea of DiNucci making it to the practice squad, then maybe they carry Dak, Dalton, and Rush with DiNucci there for 2020.

The reality of this situation though does certainly suggest that time is ticking on Cooper Rush’s time with the Dallas Cowboys. What do you think?