Cowboys' Preseason QB Battle Takes Surprising Turn

The Cowboys' preseason quarterback battle appears to have taken a surprising turn.
The Cowboys' preseason quarterback battle appears to have taken a surprising turn. / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With Dak Prescott locked in as starter and Cooper Rush penciled in as his backup, Will Grier is in a unqiue position battle against himself. He entered training camp needing to prove to the Cowboys that he's worth not just stashing on the practice squad, but keeping on the official 53-man roster.

History seemed destined to repeat itself after Mike McCarthy's comments ahead of the team's second preseason game. However, it appears things have taken a turn.

Grier got an extended look in Dallas' exhibition against the Seahawks on Saturday, and McCarthy seemed overjoyed by his QB's performance. He praised Grier for being "in total command" of the offense, and took serious note of the dual threat's ability to make plays with his legs.

"I thought Will was in total command of the offense. Did an excellent job particularly in the keeps and quarterback movement schemes. I thought the scramble drill was extremely productive. I mean, if you take the one throw out of there, he probably has a good night. So I thought Will -- I think Will has put together two games where there is a lot there that excites me. He has really grown since last year."

Mike McCarthy

Grier's night in Seattle wasn't totally blemish-free, as he did throw an interception for the second straight contest, but McCarthy was happy to look past another mistake. He noted Grier's significant growth since the 2022 campaign and how that "excites" him.

This is as strong of a backing as a QB3 can get. It sounds like Grier's made a big impression on the coaching staff with the strides he's made in his game. The fact McCarthy is even willing to look past his turnovers speaks volumes about the belief the head coach has in the veteran.

At the very least, Grier is no longer the obvious cut candidate he was entering camp. Everyone thought the writing was on the wall after the team decided to not bring in another QB3 option, as it seemed like the Cowboys had little interest in carrying a third quarterback. It'd be easy for Dallas to just release Grier, hope he clears waivers, then sign him to the practice squad and keep him on standby in case of emergency.

Now he has complicated matters. He's taken advantage of no competition behind him, making every single one of his practice reps count. That's translated to live games as well. Grier popped off in the first preseason game, racking up 199 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Jaguars. He was decent again versus the Seahawks as well, completing 13-of-18 passes for 133 yards.

Grier looking like a competent backup is a revelation in itself. It's also sure to catch the attention of other teams around the league who are looking to solidfy their QB depth. That means the 28-year-old clearing waivers is no longer a guarantee, so there's a chance he finds another home if Dallas doesn't opt to keep him on the 53-man roster after cutdown day.

The fact Grier has made this difficult decision for the 'Boys at all is impressive. Now it remains to be seen if he's done enough to sell the team on carrying a QB3.