FRISCO - Garrett Gilbert is a nomad.
It's the life of an on-the-bubble NFL quarterback, and Gilbert, at age 29 having played for eight professional teams and having never stayed in the same place for more than two seasons, gets it.
“I just worry about what I can control,” said Gilbert, presently working at OTAs while clinging to the possibility of being Dak Prescott's backup and the Dallas Cowboys' No. 2 QB. “I’ve been around long enough now. I think when I’ve worried about that stuff in the past, when I was younger, I think it got in the way of what I’m trying to do.''
Once upon a time, what Gilbert was trying to do was ride his status as a high-school All-American and "Mr. Texas Football'' honoree to the highest heights. That started when he was a blue-chip recruit of the Texas Longhorns, dipped a bit when he transferred to SMU, and began being altered when he was a Rams' sixth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
He's been in a Super Bowl-winning program (as a Patriots practice-squadder) and he's been a passing champion (with the Orlando Apollos of the AAF). Last year, he was a mid-season emergency add to the Dallas roster, the result of Prescott's Week 5 season-ending injury being followed by the injury absence of Andy Dalton.
He started a late-season loss against the Steelers but showed enough to stick with Dallas ... and pending what the Cowboys do in their pursuit of more accredited guys (they've had visits from Jeff Driskel and Brett Hundley), Gilbert could end up ahead of fellow reserves Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci for a permanent job.
“Obviously, yes that is my goal, to win the No. 2 job here,'' Gilbert said.
Said Dallas coach Mike McCarthy: (you have your backup qb) I think and just really all positions too, Will is always looking at guys. I was in his office today and we talked about a couple of guys that are out there. Right now I’m very comfortable with all four of our guys. They’ve put a tremendous amount of work in this offseason. Those guys know the offense inside and out and that’s what you’re looking for. Love the classroom work. It’s good to get on the field. Ben DiNucci’s taken a big step. This is exactly what he needs.
On Garrett Gilbert:
"Garrett is very comfortable now. I think like anything, when he did it live, he really wasn't practicing much in Cleveland. So really his first time to get out there and throw was his first week here and then a week later he was playing against Pittsburgh. Very bright, very intelligent, football comes very easy to him, him and Cooper Rush both are definitely very impressive from a mental approach it, their level of understanding, so I like the way that group works."
Gilbert knows the drill in part because his family has long lived it. Dad is Gale Gilbert, who played eight seasons in the NFL for the Seahawks, Bills, and Chargers. He was actually a member of five straight Super Bowl teams - as a non-used backup.
Contributing to a big winner is the ultimate goal. That, Gilbert says, is the second thing he wants to get done here.
"When I come here every day,'' he said, "it’s to accomplish two things: to get better every day in some form or fashion, and then to be the best quarterback I can be for this team.
But again, I think the best way to go about that is by just worrying about the things I can control, worry about having a good practice, worry about getting my feet right, worry about the things that are going to help me get better.”
The Cowboys need that last thing: Garrett Gilbert to be "better.'' Better than the vet QBs they haven't signed. Better than Gilbert was last year. Better than Gilbert has ever been, an achievement that would move him off of "nomad'' status.