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Open Market: Intriguing Free Agent QBs for Cowboys


(Note: The content provided is based on opinions and/or perspective of the editorial staff and not the Cowboys football staff or organization.)

FRISCO, TX — Dak Prescott isn't going anywhere in 2024, so let's start by flushing that thought from your mind's commode. That allows us to focus on the more important QB question as it pertains to the Dallas Cowboys, namely what happens behind the now three-time Pro Bowler and 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year.

Cooper Rush did his job in 2021, and again in 2022 but, thankfully, was not asked to take the field in 2023 due to an injury to Prescott — entering several contests in the fourth quarter only after the Cowboys had created an insurmountable lead.

It was never Trey Lance getting a single game rep, however, which begs the question of how things will not only shape up internally at QB2 in 2024, but also if there might be a slim chance the Cowboys peek outside to see if there's anyone intriguing to place a call to.

With so much still unsettled at QB2, among other positions that we'll get to as this 10-part series rolls along, it warrants discussion.

What's Here:

FYI: *Be sure to check out the entire ‘What’s Next?*' series as a primer to this one.

Cooper Rush: The term "security blanket" gets thrown around a lot in the NFL, but Rush definitely fits that description in Dallas. A longtime backup to Prescott, the lone instance in which he was sent away by the club — signing briefly with the New York Giants at the behest of Jason Garrett, who was their offensive coordinator following his departure from the Cowboys — Rush found himself ultimately right back in North Texas.

That's because head coach Mike McCarthy knows what he'll get from the steady hand of Rush, a QB that is never too low or too high, and one who will likely not cost you a game while also giving you enough oomph to win one in a pinch (e.g., versus the Minnesota Vikings in 2021).

That said, his latest round competition has arrived.

Trey Lance: There was a firm chance that Will Grier would dethrone Rush, and he was on track to do so in 2022, prior to suffering a groin injury in training camp that completely derailed that train. Grier was given another shot in 2023, but things didn't go his way and the decision to acquire Lance was made— Grier then going out in a blaze of glory in his final preseason outing against the Seahawks.

Lance enters the mix as a former top-3 NFL draft pick, but one that couldn't earn a spot on the 49ers' active roster over Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold or undrafted rookie quarterback Brandon Allen; and having been relegated to QB2 duties behind Jimmy Garoppolo in Year 1.

Can he re-emerge as a strong talent under the tutelage of McCarthy and Prescott? It is certainly possible, but the fact it's not anywhere near guaranteed and the reality that Lance is also entering a contract year means the wise move would be to at least scan the outer banks.

What's Out There:

Note: These players will be unrestricted on March 13, barring a newly-signed deal with their incumbent team prior to that date.

Ryan Tannehill: At first glance, I felt this one might be a bit of a reach but then I considered the fact Tanehill will be 36 years old this coming season and I do believe his days as a starter are now behind him. That doesn't mean he's incapable of being a worth backup, though, and that's why I've put him atop this list.

A look at Tannehill might be worth it in the realm of possibly being a potential upgrade to Rush, while also providing insurance in the event Lance doesn't progress the way the Cowboys would like to see as they ramp up work on their developmental QB program. The fact I'm intrigued by this at all means there might be something there to consider.

And maybe that helps grease the free agency wheels for a certain running back in Nashville.

Gardner Minshew: This one feels like a bit of a sweet spot when balancing age with experience, because The Mustache will be just 28 years old when the 2024 season gets underway, yet he's also logged 37 regular season starts since entering the league in 2019, and that's something none of the quarterbacks mentioned above can boast.

There was a time not so long ago when "Minshew Mania" took the NFL by storm, and for the Jacksonville Jaguars, no less, and he wasn't exactly terrible for most of his recent stretch with the Indianapolis Colts — taking the role of starter due to Anthony Richardson's season-ending injury; so I could see Minshew possibly being viewed as younger insurance at QB2 that still allows Lance the opportunity to take the role.

Jacoby Brissett: Yeah, so, I don't know what the plan was from Ron Rivera and Eric Bienemy regarding the QB position in Washington, but it's clearly one of the reasons neither are still employed by the Commanders. To continually force the ball into the hands of Sam Howell was strange, especially considering Brissett had shown an ability to step in and be competitive.

In zero starts awarded, Brissett threw three touchdowns and no interceptions, was never sacked and even mounted a game-winning drive. He's older than Minshew but younger than Tannehill and has 48 regular season starts under his belt, along with a style of play that nicely mirrors that of Prescott — meaning he could be more plug-and-play than anyone except possibly Lance.

Honorable Mention: Jameis Winston - I'll keep this one simple with a "no thank you".

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