Case Cookus who went from NFL journeyman to alternative league superstar last season in the USFL, has opted to return to the USFL. It started with a tweet from Case Cookus’s account asking if the blob needed a roommate in Detroit. Soon after a tweet from the Stars account made it official, simply saying “He’s back”.
Captain Cookus Becomes Cult Hero in 2022
The City of Brotherly Love has always been a blue-collar city that loves players who have a workmanlike mentality. Case Cookus began the 2022 season firmly planted as the backup quarterback behind Bryan Scott. An injury to Scott in week three opened the door for Cookus to take over as the starter.
Before this happened, Case Cookus had bounced around the NFL and CFL for two years. With stints in New York with the Giants, Denver, Minnesota, Las Vegas, Edmonton, and Los Angeles. He never got much of a chance to learn and develop in an offense. During that time, he also had a brief stint in The Spring League, which proved important. His brief stint with the Generals led him to a contract with Denver, but it also gave him his first experience with Bart Andrus.
From Back-Up to Back in the Spotlight
Cookus was no stranger to the spotlight, his time at NAU had him often in the forefront of football conversations in his area. When Cookus stepped in for the Stars he did so with about six weeks in 2022 to learn that offense, building on his previous knowledge in 2021. This helped Cookus to come out firing, and quickly he had fans forgetting all about Bryan Scott. Entering the game just before halftime Cookus would complete 13 of 20 passes for 146 yards and 1 touchdown. This began a solid run for Cookus.
He would play in 8 games, completing 130 of 208 passes for 1,334 yards 12 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and 22 carries for 217 yards and 1 touchdown. This performance inspired fans and put his team squarely in the playoff picture. His performance in the playoffs waned a bit from the level it once was in the regular season.
In two games his completion rate fell from 62.5% to 55.1% completing just over half his passes for 355 yards 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. 5 carries for 43 yards and 1 touchdown. He would ultimately end up sustaining a broken leg in the championship game, giving way to Kj Costello who would throw two interceptions and fall 3 points short of a victory against the Birmingham Stallions.
Case Cookus Replaces Luis Perez in L.A.
Shortly after the season, he would follow Luis Perez in Los Angeles after Perez was released. Sean McVay added to the long list of alternative football league quarterbacks he has employed since being the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. Cookus signed on November 23rd, or just days after a week 11 injury to Matthew Stafford. At the time the Rams were 3-8 with Bryce Petty as their top backup. Former Alliance of American Football passing touchdowns leader John Wolford had suffered an injury himself after starting in Stafford’s place.
Cookus remained on the practice squad until his contract expired in January of 2023 when his season officially ended. However, the wait for Philadelphia Stars fans was far from over. On the surface, it made all the sense in the world for former United Football League coach Sean McVay to bring Case Cookus back on a futures deal, but the offer never came. Cookus remained a free agent, and each day the fans continued to watch for any news of Cookus’s signing.
Given his unrestricted free agent status, there was a possibility he could have followed the path that Paxton Lynch, Kyle Sloter, Luis Perez, and even Bryan Scott had and chased a chance with the XFL. He may have and ultimately ended up returning to what he knew. The Stars have been able to re-sign nearly every player that made a brief trip back to the NFL, only to be released. The most significant question mark to this point was Case Cookus.
Quarterback Controversy in Philadelphia? Not so fast…
Given how everything has transpired, it is not believed that Bryan Scott will be back to create any Quarterback controversy with the Stars. Case Cookus likely walks into the 2023 season as the unquestioned starter looking to climb the alternative football league passing yards leaderboard. After the 2022 season, he stands 22nd in post-2000 play just 4 yards behind the legend that is Pj Walker. (How amazing is it that Pj Walker threw for 1,338 yards in only 5 games?)
If he manages to just matches his 2022 average of 170 passing yards per start, and starts all 10 games, he could finish 2023 having leapfrogged some big-name players. All the way up to the number 3 spot behind Jordan Ta’amu, and Luis Perez the only two quarterbacks to stand above 3,000 yards already.
Brandon Silvers, Ryan Willis, Kyle Sloter, and J’Mar Smith could be names to watch top that 3,000 mark this season. With all of them standing at 1,573 yards or more heading into the 2023 season. Kyle Sloter looks to have a competition on his hands in Arlington with Drew Plitt there. Ryan Willis is the likely favorite in Memphis even with Cole Kelley, and Brady White there. Brandon Silvers seems the most likely to be challenged for his starting role with Cole McDonald breathing down his neck. J’Mar Smith is the incumbent in Birmingham after a championship victory under his former college coach.
Where Does Cookus Stand on the Leader Boards?
Case Cookus might be playing catch-up on the yardage list, but in the touchdown category, he stands tied for 7th with 12. Ahead of him are all names with XFL ties. Luis Perez tops the list with 24, while Silvers and Ta’amu are tied at 19 which is impressive when you consider Silvers hasn’t played in any outdoor leagues since XFL2020, and Ta’amu was in the USFL. Ryan Willis stands at 13 and is his best competition in the USFL in 2023 as a pure passer.
Could we see Cookus in the top five for both categories in just two USFL seasons? With so many variables it’ll be tough to tell until the dust settles but he certainly has a good chance of dramatically improving his standings on each list. One thing is for certain, fans are certainly excited that Captain Cookus will be back leading the Stars’ offense in 2023.