Cowboys position breakdown: QBs

January, 27, 2014
Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer breakdown the Cowboys, position by position, analyzing what the players did in 2013, what they can do in the future and what the team can do to improve the position in 2014.

Under contract: Tony Romo, Kyle Orton

A look back: Romo equaled his best touchdown to interception ratio in his career, with 31 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in 15 games. He threw for 3, 828 yards but he had five games in which he did not throw for more than 210 yards.

He completed 63.9 percent of his passes, which was just off his career average, but he averaged just 7.2 yards per attempt, which was a career low. He was more willing to take the checkdown than to wait for the deeper throws to open up, despite what was an improved offensive line.

He missed the entire offseason because of back surgery to remove a cyst, which might explain some of the reluctance to throw deeper. He continued to buy time with his feet, winning his final start versus the Washington Redskins by buying time, but not as much as he did in previous seasons.

Orton saw action in two games and started the finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. He did what you would expect a veteran quarterback to do: Perform well with limited practice time. He completed 30 of 46 passes for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two picks against the Eagles. The last interception ended the Cowboys’ chances of a comeback and a playoff appearance.


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A look ahead: Romo is coming off his second back surgery in eight months with a procedure to heal a herniated disk. The Cowboys have said Romo is feeling better and the plan is for him to take part in the offseason program, which he did not do in 2013.

The Cowboys will restructure Romo’s contract in the offseason with him set to count $21.7 million against the cap. The move will save the Cowboys about $9.6 million. He turns 34 in April but the club believes he has what it takes to not only deliver them to the playoffs but to make a run in them as well.

Having the offseason to prepare will help Romo not in learning the offense of gaining more of an understanding of defenses, but in getting in optimum shape.

Orton is set to count $4.37 million against the cap. The Cowboys could restructure his deal again to open up space or could release him. The latter seems to be a stretch considering Romo is coming off the surgery, but there is also a wonder if Orton wants to continue to play.

A look out: Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the Cowboys are not likely to use a pick early in the draft, but finding a pick in the middle rounds as a possible developmental quarterback is an option. Just remember that the Cowboys have drafted three quarterbacks since taking Troy Aikman in the 1989 draft.

With Orton, Jon Kitna and Brad Johnson, the Cowboys have shown a willingness to spend on a veteran backup since Jason Garrett’s arrival in 2007.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter



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