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Cowboys free agent 2023: Cooper Rush following Kellen Moore to Chargers feels very likely

Nothing is official until the third week of March, but this is one free agent departure that seems very likely for the Cowboys.

Denver Broncos v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The possibility of quarterback Cooper Rush, about to become a free agent, following offensive coordinator Kellen Moore from the Cowboys to the Chargers has been circulating for over a week now. Given the circumstances, Rush’s potential move from Dallas to Los Angeles this offseason should be given a lot of validity.

Rush’s contract with Dallas is expiring at an ideal time for the veteran backup. He’s coming off that 4-1 run as a starter that made him the talk of sports media for over a month. His stock’s never been higher and probably never will be again.

What’s more, he’s now got what seems to be the ideal landing spot. Kellen Moore’s taking his offense, which Rush has played in since 2019 and perhaps even influenced before that, to a new home with the Chargers. The Cowboys decided to part ways with Moore after inconsistency in 2022, giving Mike McCarthy greater control over the offense going forward.

Moore landed in Los Angeles needing to install his system and develop rapport with stud QB Justin Herbert. Who better than Rush to help fill that QB room and assist Moore with this large offseason project?

Los Angeles’ QB depth chart is ripe for a new addition, too. Their backup last year was longtime veteran Chase Daniel, who also has an expiring deal and turns 37 in October. The only other QB is Easton Stick, a 2019 fifth-round pick who’s attempted one pass in four years and is also about to become a free agent.

It feels like the perfect spot for Rush. He walks in as QB2 in an offense he knows, both helping the starter to acclimate and perhaps grooming a new young prospect from this year’s draft. If Rush does have a desired future in coaching, which has been rumored, sticking to Moore and developing those skills seems like a wise career move.

It’s unlikely that Rush will get a chance to compete for a starting job anywhere. Even when Dallas won those four games with him, the defense and run game carried the load and Rush was able to play it safe. That fifth game against the Eagles closed the door on any fantasies about Rush’s prospects beyond the second string.

Barring the unexpected, Rush should be looking for a place where he can be the reliable backup for several years to come. Los Angeles certainly presents that, offering no current competition for the job based on their expiring contracts.

Granted, the situation wouldn’t be that different in Dallas. There’s another established starter in Dak Prescott and the potential for some youth to be added this offseason. But with Will Grier still hanging around a new offensive system coming from McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer, Rush could be facing a fight if he returns.

Remember, Grier was added in 2021 by the current coaching regime. Rush is a holdover from the past one and had the advantage of knowing Moore’s offense. If Grier takes to McCarthy’s system better, he could beat Rush out for the backup job. There also wouldn’t be the same relationship with the coaches here that Rush has with Moore.

Back in 2017, Moore was the backup quarterback and Rush was the undrafted rookie body. He had a fantastic preseason that eventually carried him to a midseason promotion to the backup role. Moore, already a coach-in-training when in Dallas, started focusing more on his next gig as the team’s QB coach under Scott Linehan in 2018.

Moore and Rush have been working together for six years and with a clear bond between them. Whether it was after Rush’s upset win over the Vikings in 2021 or during the four-game win streak last season, nobody has looked happier for the backup quarterback than his offensive coordinator.

That relationship not only gives Cooper Rush job security now but perhaps sets up his next job after playing. As long as the Chargers’ front office is happy to let Kellen Moore choose his guys, there’s little reason to think that Rush won’t be following Moore to Los Angeles.

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