Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is expected to miss six to eight weeks after requiring surgery on his right thumb, according to ESPN NFL Nation reporter Todd Archer (via ESPN's Adam Schefter), leaving Cooper Rush as the current starting option for the team.
But the Cowboys may explore other options at the position, as ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on Monday's SportsCenter:
"There aren't a lot of options here, but after asking around, I do expect the Cowboys to at least explore them. They like Rush, but if they can find a clear-cut upgrade, they'll at least tap into it. Now, Jimmy Garoppolo has to be option No. 1 because he's been out there. And I'm told when the 49ers did the reworked deal with Garoppolo, they did so knowing that he can waive that no-trade clause if they find a situation league-wide that benefits him and can net them a draft pick. This is a perfect situation they'd be looking for, so that can be an option. Pittsburgh Steelers also. Mason Rudolph is out there. He's the third-string, but he performed well in the preseason, 5-4-1 as a starter. So he's got some pedigree; third-round pick. And James Washington, a wide receiver in Dallas that should be coming back soon, played with him at Oklahoma State when they connected for all of those touchdowns. So those are two guys that I'm looking for."
The Cowboys are aware of what life without Prescott looks like. When he suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in the 2020 season, the Cowboys went just 4-7 down the stretch without him and finished 6-10 on the season, missing the playoffs.
Prescott won't be sidelined for the remainder of the 2022 season, by all accounts, but a poor record in his absences could dig the Cowboys into a hole they can't escape. All three of their NFC East rivals opened the season with a win, while the Cowboys started their campaign with a 19-3 loss to Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The schedule isn't about to get any easier. Ahead of the team's Week 9 bye, Dallas faces the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals at home, followed by the New York Giants (road), Washington Commanders (home), defending champion Los Angeles Rams (road), Philadelphia Eagles (road), Detroit Lions (home) and Chicago Bears (home).
Two games against Super Bowl teams and three divisional matchups is a tough ask for Rush, who has started exactly one NFL game in his career and has thrown for a total of 488 yards, three touchdowns and a pick.
"Just go do your job," Rush told reporters after Sunday's loss. "Just execute. It's the same plays, it's the same other guys, we've still got everyone else. I trust in those guys, they trust in me, just all come together as a group and make plays and execute."
The question is whether the Cowboys can afford to take their chances with Rush, especially when a player like Garoppolo or Rudolph would offer far more experience.
Garoppolo is the clear top quarterback potentially on the market, relegated to a backup role on the San Francisco 49ers behind Trey Lance. His name was a constant source of trade rumors over the summer, though no deal materialized and he reworked his deal with the Niners to return for the 2022 season.
The 30-year-old is 33-14 in his career as a starter and led San Francisco to two playoff berths in the past three seasons. While he would still be a downgrade over Prescott, he'd be a pretty clear upgrade over Rush and would help stabilize what could be an otherwise tumultuous period for Dallas.
The Niners will be aware of that as well, however, and will demand a high asking price for his services. The Cowboys will have to weigh if such a price is worth the six to eight games he's asked to start.
The price they could pay for not making a move may end up being far more costly.