The Dallas Cowboys, along with the other 31 NFL teams, trimmed rosters to 53 on Tuesday, August 31. Immediately, teams began shuffling players and making moves to claim players off waivers before other teams have an opportunity.
The most surprising move so far was the decision to waive both Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert, leaving Cooper Rush as the only QB on the roster and the apparent backup to Dak Prescott. On Wednesday, the Cowboys made two more surprising moves. First, they re-signed DiNucci to the practice squad, apparently abandoning any hope for Gilbert who is expected to sign to the New England Patriots practice squad.
The second surprise move at QB on Wednesday was claiming another quarterback off waivers. Not only was this a surprise move after letting go of two competent QBs, but the player that the Cowboys selected is also an unexpected option. They claimed Will Grier off waivers after his release from the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday.
Many people were surprised by the move not least because the Patriots had just released former MVP Cam Newton, a seasoned veteran who has struggled with injuries in recent years. The QB situation in Dallas seemed like a logical option for both Newton and the Cowboys.
Instead, Grier will reunite with his QB coach from his days at the University of Florida. Cowboys Quarterbacks Coach Doug Nussmeier was with the Gators as the QB coach in 2014 and 15 when Grier was a student.
In three preseason games with the Carolina Panthers this year, Grier completed 22 passes on 31 attempts for 222 yards and no turnovers, but he failed to score a touchdown. His best game was against the Baltimore Ravens where he played the majority of the first quarter and all of the second. He completed 11 of his 14 passes for 144 yards.
Grier was a third-round pick in 2019 by Carolina. He got two starts in his rookie season but struggled with ball protection. He threw four interceptions against no touchdowns and averaged only 4.4 yards per completion.
The Cowboys will assume approximately $1.9 million of his existing four-year deal with Carolina. Grier is set to earn $850,000 this season. Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones said in July that he didn’t anticipate a star player at backup.
“Well, when you have a $40 million quarterback it’s hard to have a $20 million or a $10 million [backup] to go with it,” Jones said in an interview published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “No question the cap plays into it as far as the resources you can spend on a backup guy.”
He is expected to compete with Rush for backup duties. The Cowboys released veteran Punter Brian Anger to make roster room for Grier. Anger will likely be re-signed to the team. His status as a vested veteran means that he will not be subject to waivers.
The Cowboys will have to make further roster moves in the coming days to accommodate several starters who are currently on Covid-19 designations. The team currently has five players in the protocol. Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn was one of the first members of the team to enter the protocol just prior to the preseason game against the Houston Texans.