Dallas Cowboys: Stephen Mcgee

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 2

June, 14, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:

• When the Cowboys might draft a successor to Tony Romo
• Dead money in 2015
• Special teams' job opportunities
• Can the Cowboys be the Mavericks?
Brandon Carr's contract

If you want to see Part 1, click here.

Away we go:
@toddarcher: If Romo remains healthy and plays well, then I think you'll see it happen in 2016. The Cowboys are all-in on Romo. They said as much when they skipped on taking Johnny Manziel. They don't believe in drafting a developmental quarterback, in part because you might be developing him for another team and, truthfully, quarterbacks taken in Rounds 3-7 hardly ever pan out. For every Russell Wilson or Tom Brady, there is a ton more guys like Mike Teel and Stephen McGee. Now, if Romo cannot make it through the season healthy, then I can see the Cowboys going after a quarterback early in 2015. Kyle Orton may or may not play here in 2014, but he is out of a contract in 2015. Brandon Weeden is doing some nice things right now, but I don't think they view him as a potential starter down the road. If you're looking for a franchise quarterback, the odds say take him early. I believe when the Cowboys are ready to move on from Romo, that's when they start to look.

@toddarcher: I wrote about this a few months ago. In Miles Austin, Orton and possibly Doug Free, you're looking at about $11.3 million in dead money in 2015. Austin was a June 1 cut this year, which pushed money into next year's cap. Orton has two voidable years left on his deal that will come forward. Free also has two voidable years left, but the Cowboys might try to extend his deal, which would take away that dead money. The Cowboys have done a good job of cleaning up their cap the past couple of years and will be in good shape in 2015 and excellent shape in 2016. But that doesn't mean they will go crazy in free agency spending money on players they don't know. I really think they have learned their lesson that they don't get their money's worth.

@toddarcher: Cody Mandell will have a chance, but I think he'll clearly have to beat out Chris Jones over the summer. He didn't do it in the organized team activities. For some reason it takes young punters time to get accustomed to the NFL game. Maybe it's the directional kicking that is more prevalent. Jones has a strong leg. Left-footed punters can be tricky for returners because of the spin on the ball. He's also a good holder, and that's important for Dan Bailey. The Cowboys' special teams were good last year. I don't see any changeover from the specialists unless Mandell knocks out the champ, so to speak.

@toddarcher: I'm not sure which way I should take this. If you mean the Cowboys will be the last wild-card team, then I can see that happening, but until I see more visual evidence in training camp, I'm sticking with 8-8 and missing the playoffs. If you mean, the Cowboys' offense will have to carry the day, then, yes, I'd say true. There are just too many questions on defense to expect anything great. The offense, however, has the tools necessary to be one of the best in the league. Maybe I'm too optimistic on this, but I think Scott Linehan will be really good. I think he'll be more aggressive than Jason Garrett or Bill Callahan. I think he will devise ways for Dez Bryant and Jason Witten to beat double teams. All that being said, if the defense can't be at least a little better and get into the low 20s in rankings, then I don't think the Cowboys will make the playoffs.

@toddarcher: He is guaranteed $1 million this year now that he has been on the roster the first day of the league year. That's the last of the guaranteed money. Yes, he will be gone if he doesn't play well this season. If the Cowboys were to cut him in 2015, they would save only roughly $550,000. If they made him a June 1 cut, then it would free up $8 million in space in 2015, but Carr would count $7.4 million against the cap in 2016. To me, it would be better to not spread the hit over two years even though there wouldn't be much savings. I'll give Carr credit for how he has approached this offseason. He knows it is a big one for him. He has changed his approach to the offseason and dropped some weight in hopes of being faster. If he plays solidly, like he did in 2012, then maybe the Cowboys approach him with a pay cut. If he plays great, then I think you might see them restructure the deal potentially to open up cap room. 

Why the Cowboys didn't draft a QB

May, 12, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- For all of the talk about the Dallas Cowboys drafting a quarterback, they never really considered selecting one.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
Tony Dejak/AP PhotoThe Dallas Cowboys are viewing 30-year-old backup Brandon Weeden as their "developmental quarterback."
After the first round, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said picking Johnny Manziel, "wasn't even a thought," despite loving the former Texas A&M quarterback who ended up with the Cleveland Browns.

The Cowboys liked several lower-round quarterbacks, such as Tom Savage, but passed on all of them. The Cowboys have not drafted a quarterback since taking Stephen McGee in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. Since 1989, the Cowboys have drafted only four quarterbacks: Troy Aikman, Bill Musgrave, Quincy Carter and McGee. Steve Walsh was taken in the first round of the 1989 supplemental draft.

With Tony Romo coming off his second back surgery and Kyle Orton's future in question, many thought the Cowboys would take a shot at a quarterback.

"We feel in signing Brandon Weeden, he can be viewed as that developmental guy," coach Jason Garrett said. "A first-round pick a couple of years ago, coming from a baseball background, has all the physical tools you want. We view him as in that role right now, so we wanted to be selective about anybody else we wanted to bring in here."

So no Savage, no Aaron Murray, no AJ McCarron. The Cowboys did sign Dustin Vaughan as an undrafted free agent and he was on their draft board.

At quarterback, "the best players who play typically come from the top rounds," Garrett said. "I do think with how the league has changed, there is a demand to play those guys earlier and that changes the dynamic of taking your time to develop guys year after year and they play in years four and five. The thing you’re concerned about is developing them for somebody else. You develop them for two, three, four years and he goes and plays for another football team. We don’t think that’s a worthwhile thing. There’s been a theory around the league, teams like Green Bay for years always took a guy late and if that player develops into something that was a good thing for their team or to trade to somebody else. There were some examples of them doing that. It’s a philosophy a lot of teams, they agree with that. But when you have other issues on your team I think it becomes a little bit of a luxury to do that. When you feel good about your starter and you feel good about your backups, we feel it’s better to take a position player, a guy we know can contribute on special teams, instead of trying to develop that guy [quarterback]."

Cowboys need more Bradie James picks

May, 7, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- In talking about Bradie James on Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones could not help but think of the draft.

It wasn’t just that the draft is coming up Thursday. It was something James signified in turning into a starter from 2005-11 with the Cowboys, a captain and the leading tackler for a six-year run.

“When I think about the fourth-round value of what Bradie brought us, that’s where you’re trying to go,” Jones said.

James was the 103rd pick of the 2003 draft. When the Cowboys moved to the 3-4 scheme in 2005, he became a better fit for the defense. He was a sure tackler, dependable player and good leader. He was solid in a lot of ways.

Since James, the Cowboys have not been so fortunate with their fourth-round selections.

In 2005 they drafted Marion Barber (109 overall) and Chris Canty (132 overall). In 2007 they drafted Doug Free (122 overall). Barber earned a Pro Bowl spot and was a tough runner. Canty was a solid player for four years before leaving in free agency. Free is the Cowboys' starting right tackle.

Since selecting Free in the fourth round, however, the Cowboys have not found an every-day starter. Running back Tashard Choice (122 overall, 2008) started four games in parts of four seasons. Quarterback Stephen McGee (101 overall, 2009) and Victor Butler (110 overall, 2009) combined to start three games. Brandon Williams (120 overall, 2009) never made an impact in part because of a knee injury.

The Cowboys never figured out of Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (126 overall, 2010) was a cornerback, safety or wide receiver in his two seasons with the team. David Arkin (110 overall, 2011) never started a game.

In 2012, the Cowboys picked Kyle Wilber (113 overall) and Matt Johnson in the fourth round. Wilber became a starter out of necessity last year but at outside linebacker after playing defensive end in the 4-3. Johnson has yet to play in a game because of an injury.

Last year the Cowboys took cornerback B.W. Webb (114 overall) and he did little to inspire the stopping of what has become a trend.

Successful drafts are determined by the quality of depth a team forms in the later rounds. In 2003, the Cowboys found James and he went on to become the franchise’s sixth all-time leading tackler. Free has been a starter since 2009.

The Cowboys need more of those guys this week in order to have a successful draft in 2014 and less of the Arkins, Butlers and McGees.
IRVING, Texas -- Because Tony Romo is 34 and because he is coming off his second back surgery in less than a year, just about everybody believes it is time for the Dallas Cowboys to find his replacement.

ESPN NFL draft Insider Todd McShay said it. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said it. A lot of fans have said it. A lot of others have said it.

If the Cowboys draft a quarterback, then it must be early in the draft. At least, that’s the general philosophy of Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery when it comes to taking quarterbacks.

"I just did a little study. It's very interesting," Emery said in this ESPNChicago story. "That developmental theory doesn't hold a whole lot of water. There's entire classes of quarterbacks, since '06, I went back and looked at from Jay [Cutler's] on -- when people say developmental quarterbacks, OK, so who has gotten developed? There isn't a single quarterback after the third round since 2006 that has been a long-term starter. So you're either developing thirds, and most of them have been wiped out of the league. So to get a quality quarterback, you've got to draft them high. That 2012 class is a blip on the radar that's unusual, highly unusual.

"Most of the starters in this league come from the first and second round. So that's where you need to take a quarterback. So when you talk about quarterback every year, they have to be somebody that you truly believe will beat out the second and third quarterback that you perceive on your roster. And if not, history shows that you shouldn't make that pick."

From 2006 to 2013, there were 59 quarterbacks drafted in Rounds 3-7. Only two are top-end starters: Russell Wilson (third round, 2012, Seattle Seahawks) and Nick Foles(third round, 2012, Philadelphia Eagles). And Foles might have more to prove, but he was Pro Bowl-worthy in 2013.

The best of the rest: Bruce Gradkowski (sixth round, 2006); Matt Flynn (seventh round, 2008); Curtis Painter (sixth round, 2009); Ryan Mallett (third round, 2011); Kirk Cousins (fourth round, 2012). Other considerations: Colt McCoy (third round, 2010); T.J. Yates (fifth round, 2011); Tyrod Taylor (sixth round, 2011).

The odds are stacked against a team looking to develop a quarterback. Teams are not a lock to carry a third quarterback on the 53-man roster these days. The Cowboys have not done it since 2011, when they had Stephen McGee (fourth round, 2009). There just aren’t enough snaps to go around in a season for a quarterback to develop. The pressure on coaches to win means they want guys who can help carry games if a starter goes down, part of the reason why the Cowboys have gone with Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna and Kyle Orton as Romo's backups.

Maybe the Cowboys will draft a quarterback in the middle to late rounds this week. The odds of him turning into Wilson, Foles or Tom Brady (sixth round, 2000) are remote. He’s more likely to be Andre Woodson (sixth round, 2008), Mike Teel (sixth round, 2009), Jonathan Crompton (fifth round, 2010) or Nate Enderle (fifth round, 2011).

Kyle Orton not at Monday workout

April, 21, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' offseason program began on Monday without veteran quarterback Kyle Orton, according to sources.

Orton had been contemplating retirement, but at the NFL Owners meetings in March his agent, David Dunn, said the quarterback would play in 2014 and retirement was never an issue. Since the NFL scouting combine in February, the Cowboys have stated their belief that Orton, who is set to make $3.5 million as Tony Romo's backup, would return.

The workout program is voluntary, but Orton participated in it his first two seasons. Only the June 17-19 mini-camp is mandatory. If Orton skips the mini-camp, then he would be subject to fines totaling close to $70,000.

If Orton's absence is prolonged it could affect the Cowboys' draft plans. The Cowboys signed Brandon Weeden to a two-year deal with no signing bonus earlier in the offseason. Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson attended the pro day of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray last week. At the combine, they had meetings with Jimmy Garoppolo and David Fales.

The last two quarterbacks drafted by the Cowboys are Quincy Carter (second round, 2001) and Stephen McGee (fourth round, 2009).

Five Wonders: All in play for NFL draft

April, 1, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- With the NFL draft five weeks away, it seems like a perfect time to bring back Five Wonders.

On to the wonders:

Melton
• Some of you might wonder if the acquisition of Henry Melton takes the Dallas Cowboys out of the loop for Aaron Donald at No. 16 overall, considering both players would handle the three-technique role in Rod Marinelli’s scheme. Here’s why you shouldn’t wonder. You have to look at the Melton contract as a one-year deal. If he doesn’t play to the level where the Cowboys want to exercise their three-year option on him next year, then they would be back in the same situation they were in before signing Melton. The bigger question might be whether Donald makes it to No. 16 overall, but the Cowboys must be prepared to take him if he’s there. He is scheduled to visit the Cowboys before the draft. He piqued their interest at the Senior Bowl and did more of it at the NFL scouting combine. There is nothing wrong with taking a player at a position of strength (OK, if they took a tight end in the first round, then that might be overkill but more on that later). Injuries happen and you can never have enough good players.

• I wonder if this is the year the Cowboys look at a quarterback in the middle rounds, even with the signing of Brandon Weeden. The last time the Cowboys drafted a quarterback was in 2009 when they took Stephen McGee in the fourth round. The Cowboys loved his makeup but he did not develop. It should be noted that Wade Wilson is scheduled to attend the pro day of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in November but is expected to do most of the drills at the pro day. Murray is a second- or third-day selection and a player the Cowboys can have some patience with. He holds Georgia’s records in passing yards (13,166) and touchdown passes (121) and has a moxie to his game. With Tony Romo, Kyle Orton and Weeden, you can argue there won’t be enough snaps to go around, but just as was mentioned with Donald, the draft is not just about the current year. It is about future years as well. The Cowboys will go with Romo as long as they can, but Orton is in the final year of his deal, and Weeden’s contract did not include any signing bonus.

• I wonder if one of the reasons why the Cowboys say they don’t need a veteran wide receiver is in part because of tight end Gavin Escobar. The Cowboys can like Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley all they want, but there are limitations to their games. But if you add Escobar to that mix, then the Cowboys would be able to roll three players through the snaps if something happened to Dez Bryant or Terrance Williams. If it were me, I’d still look at a receiver, but the Cowboys are intrigued by the mismatches Escobar can create and are banking on new tight ends coach Mike Pope to develop him. And remember this about new passing game coordinator Scott Linehan. He had Joseph Fauria with the Detroit Lions last year. He caught just 18 passes for 207 yards, but seven went for touchdowns. Fauria is 6-7 and 255 pounds. Escobar is 6-6 and 249 pounds.

• And now on to the promised talk of a tight end. I wonder if the Cowboys need to find more of a blocking type of tight end? It’s not a sign of giving up on Escobar as a hand-in-the-ground tight end, but there are limitations and there will be limitations in the future. James Hanna filled in well enough as the No. 2 tight end most of the time to Jason Witten, but blocking is not his strong suit and the coaches were not able to design a way to use his speed. The Cowboys kept Andre Smith around for a spell last year because of his blocking, but his lack of special teams’ play hurt his chances of making the game-day roster. If the Cowboys are to look for more of a blocking tight end, then they will have to live with the fact the player might not help much on special teams.

• I wonder if the Cowboys believe Martez Wilson will be able to help them out at defensive end. He signed with the Cowboys last November and was on the field almost immediately, but he did not make much of an impact. He has the physical skills necessary to become a player at 6-4, 252 pounds. He runs well. He has some pop to him. Maybe he just needs more time with Marinelli to develop. He is just 25 and put up three sacks with the New Orleans Saints in 2012. The Cowboys liked him in 2011 but not so much as a fit for their 3-4 scheme at the time. It would be a long shot for Wilson to become an every-down player but he could be a situational pass-rusher. Given the state of their defensive line, the Cowboys have to take a look at everybody.

Sources: Dallas shows interest in Weeden

March, 14, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have expressed an interest in quarterback Brandon Weeden, according to sources.

Weeden
The Cleveland Browns released their 2012 first-round pick on Wednesday after he threw 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions with a 5-15 record as a starter in two seasons. Weeden, who turns 31 in October, threw for 5,116 yards, completing 438-of-784 passes.

The Cowboys have Kyle Orton as their backup to Tony Romo, and the Cowboys believe he will continue to play rather than retire with a $3.25 million base salary in 2014. If he retires, he would owe the Cowboys $3 million of the $5 million base salary he received in 2012. If he is cut, the Cowboys would save roughly $900,000 in cap space.

Orton turns 32 in November and is in the final year of his contract. After Romo went down in Week 16 with a back injury, Orton came off the bench for the 2013 season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles to throw for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

Weeden signed a four-year deal worth $8.1 million as the No. 22 pick in the first round two years ago. He is still owed more than $2 million in guaranteed money, but the Browns would only have to make up the difference if Weeden makes less from his new team.

It is possible the Cowboys could carry Romo, Orton and Weeden on the 53-man roster if they were to sign him.

The Cowboys have not carried a third quarterback on the roster since 2011 when they had Stephen McGee behind Romo and Jon Kitna. They had Alex Tanney on the practice squad for much of last season before losing him to the Browns, and re-signed Kitna for the final week of the season after Romo got hurt.

The Cowboys liked Weeden coming out of Oklahoma State. He set school records in yards and touchdowns in 2011 for the Cowboys after a short-lived career in professional baseball.

Cowboys miss chances to add extra picks

February, 3, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- It’s clear the Dallas Cowboys do not have a philosophy when it comes to drafting a quarterback.

The sounds coming from the Senior Bowl two weeks ago were that whenever the Cowboys decide to move on from Tony Romo, they will draft a quarterback in the early rounds and play him right way, like the Seattle Seahawks did with Russell Wilson and the Cincinnati Bengals did with Andy Dalton, among others.

Since selecting Troy Aikman with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1989 draft, owner and general manager Jerry Jones has drafted three quarterbacks: Bill Musgrave, Quincy Carter and Stephen McGee. He also took Steve Walsh with first-round pick in the 1989 supplemental draft.

Carter was a second-round reach in 2001 but he did help the Cowboys to the playoffs in 2003 under Bill Parcells. McGee was a fourth-round hope in 2009 but he just did not develop.

Two years ago the Washington Redskins traded up to take Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick. They took Kirk Cousins in the fourth round.

Two years later, Cousins is open to a trade, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

How does this relate to the Cowboys?

By drafting Cousins and having him play just a little -- four starts, eight appearances -- the Redskins have an opportunity to acquire a pick or picks from a team interested in Cousins. What can they get for Cousins? It only takes one team to believe, but even if they are not high picks they are still picks.

A team can never go wrong in having extra picks, unless you want to look at the Cowboys’ draft of 2009 when they had 11 picks and the best pick was either Victor Butler (fourth) or John Phillips (sixth).

Under Ron Wolf, the Green Bay Packers were able turn Ty Detmer (1992), Mark Brunell (1993), Matt Hasselbeck (1998) and Aaron Brooks (1999) into six draft picks.

Jones has seen the benefit of drafting a quarterback and then later trading him with Walsh. In 1990, he sent Walsh to the New Orleans Saints for first-, third- and second-round picks.

Considering how much Jones likes to wheel and deal it's strange that he has not seen the benefit of drafting a quarterback in order to do some wheeling and dealing down the road if his starting quarterback spot is as secure as it has been since Romo took over in 2006.

What if Johnny Manziel slipped in draft?

January, 8, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has already said he will not use an early draft pick on a quarterback to possibly begin the process of finding Tony Romo's successor.

Could Johnny Manziel sway Jones' mind?

Manziel will be the story of this year's draft. He drives attention with his style of play, with his brashness, with how he has handled the fame since winning the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M. Wherever he goes in May, Manziel will be a draw.

I've already mentioned Jones can't so easily dismiss the possibility of taking a quarterback. History suggests otherwise.

Since taking Troy Aikman with the No. 1 pick in 1989, Jones has selected just three -- Bill Musgrave (1991), Quincy Carter (2001) and Stephen McGee (2009) -- in the regular draft and used a first-round pick in the supplemental draft on Steve Walsh in 1989.

Before the change in the collective bargaining agreement, he did not want to make the huge financial investment in an unproven commodity early in the draft. Now that the rookie prices have come way down, Jones remains reluctant.

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If available, who should the Cowboys select with their first pick in the draft?

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Discuss (Total votes: 12,972)

But we all know Jerry Jones loves a draw.

He didn't need to draft Dez Bryant in 2010 with the first round. He committed megabucks to Roy Williams in 2009. He had Miles Austin coming off a Pro Bowl season and would soon pay him megabucks. But Bryant kept slipping and the Cowboys moved up slightly to take Bryant with the 24th pick in the first round. Somehow he could not envision passing on Randy Moss and Bryant.

This year the Cowboys will pick either No. 16 or 17 in the draft, depending on a coin flip with the Baltimore Ravens.

Manziel figures to be gone by then, but what if teams are scared off by Manziel and he slips in the same way Bryant slipped? Does Jones make the move? Does he bring in the star of the draft?

There will be tons of work done on Manziel between now and the draft. The Cowboys will do their due diligence and know the player inside and out.

The general manager will have all of the reports and know if it would be a smart football move or not.

Would the owner be able to stay out of the way?

It sure it would set up an interesting dynamic on draft day.

Jerry: Cowboys won't use high pick on QB

December, 27, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- A replacement plan for Tony Romo won’t be near the top of Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones’ priority list this offseason.

The Cowboys are committed to Romo as the franchise quarterback of the foreseeable future after signing him to a six-year, $108 million extension with $55 million in guaranteed money last offseason. Jones said he is not concerned about the 33-year-old Romo having chronic back issues despite two surgeries in the last eight months that the Cowboys consider unrelated.

Jones said the Cowboys want to add a developmental quarterback prospect this offseason, but they will not use a high draft pick on the position.

“You’d like to every spring pick up a quarterback,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “I think the real issue and maybe your question would be, would you seriously consider using a significant draft pick for a quarterback? That’s early. That’s way too early to do that with the way things are today with my expectation of Tony’s career, which I think will be for several years to come.

“It’s too early to be drafting a highly ranked or, if you will, costly quarterback.”

The Cowboys have drafted only one quarterback during the 11-year career of Romo, who was undrafted. They selected Stephen McGee out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2009 draft.

The Cowboys have not used an early pick on a quarterback since selecting Quincy Carter with the 53rd overall pick in 2001.

Cowboys look to add a quarterback

December, 23, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- Without Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys need another quarterback.

While the Cowboys are not ready to rule Romo out for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, coach Jason Garrett acknowledged the team has to find a third quarterback not only in case Romo is unable to play but to get through practice.

Finding one ready to play could be problematic.

“Well, you just look at who's available and you go out and sign them,” Garrett said. “It's a position that I'm sure a lot of people would like to have. You can't sign people off of other team's rosters, but there are quarterbacks out there. Hopefully we can find one that can help us. I think that's one of the best things we've done as a team is we've handled injuries and we've gotten guys who can come in and play at a moment's notice.”

David Carr and John Skelton are scheduled to visit with the Cowboys on Tuesday. Carr was cut by the New York Giants on Aug. 31 and has thrown three passes since 2010. Skelton went 8-9 with the Arizona Cardinals from 2010-12. He was cut by the Cincinnati Bengals in training camp and spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans. He was released by the Titans on Dec. 17.

Finding a quarterback is different than finding a defensive lineman. The Cowboys have dressed 19 different defensive linemen this season. They have had only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster all season and lost Alex Tanney off the practice squad to the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 26.
Preferably the Cowboys would like a quarterback either familiar with Garrett's offense or one who has run a variation of it elsewhere.

In 2010 the Cowboys signed Chris Greisen the final week of the season when Jon Kitna suffered an oblique strain. Unable to start, Kitna served as the backup to Stephen McGee in the 14-13 win against the Eagles and Greisen was inactive.

The Cowboys could sign a player from another team's practice squad. Nick Stephens went to training camp with the Cowboys and was cut on Aug. 27. He has been on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. Stephens completed 11 of 19 passes for 102 yards and an interception in the preseason before he was cut.

Update: The Cowboys are also working out quarterbacks Tyler Thigpen and Richard Bartel on Tuesday.

Tanney facing uphill battle for roster spot

August, 20, 2013
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IRVING, Texas – With Alex Tanney’s 14-of-19, 136-yard, one-touchdown, one-interception effort against Arizona, a lot of fans were left wondering if the Cowboys should make him the backup quarterback after Kyle Orton’s two-interception performance earlier in the game.

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That’s not happening. And Tanney (or Nick Stephens, for that matter) is not assured a spot on the 53-man roster either.

The Cowboys did not carry a third quarterback last year, going with Tony Romo and Orton only. From 2009-11, they kept a third quarterback in Stephen McGee.

"We value the quarterback position a lot," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We would love to have a third quarterback to develop, but roster spots are competitive in this league. You have to make a lot of decisions when you get around the cut down date to 53. There are a lot of good players you have to let go. You've got to figure out who is going to help your team. Developing a player versus this guy can help our team right now; that is a big question we have.

"We feel good about our starting quarterback. We feel good about our backup quarterback. Now we would like to bring a guy along. What capacity would you like to bring him along in, I don’t know that. Tanney did a good job the other night, though."

Cowboys would like to develop third QB

July, 26, 2013
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OXNARD, Calif. -- Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the team would like to develop a third quarterback, but there are too many variables involved for it to happen.

Twenty-two quarterbacks have been drafted by 18 teams in the past two NFL drafts. The Cowboys are not one of those teams, but two NFC East opponents -- Washington and Philadelphia -- drafted two quarterbacks apiece the past two years.

Garrett has four on his roster, including Tony Romo, Kyle Orton, Alex Tanney and Nick Stephens.

"Absolutely, absolutely," Garrett said when asked about developing a quarterback. "You have to make the best of it for your team. If your guy is on the 53-man roster or part of your 61 (includes practice squad), you just have to sort out the rest of your roster. There are so many different issues you have to address. I don’t want to describe it as a luxury. It's not a luxury. It's an important thing, but sometimes when it comes down to it, if he's not going to play for you right now and someone else is, it does get thrown into that luxury category a little bit. We definitely would like to develop not only at all positions, but particularly that one."

The last time Dallas drafted a quarterback was Stephen McGee in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. McGee never developed into a quality backup, and the Cowboys released him in 2011.

"That's the challenge for all teams in the league: What's the value of a young developing quarterback in this salary-cap era that we're in," Garrett said. "You don’t have the opportunity to develop a guy for five years and then he eventually becomes your starter. You get into these contract situations where you're developing a guy for somebody else. You got to be careful about that value that you placed with somebody else. If you draft him too high, you better get ready to play that guy relatively early in his career. It's a tricky thing that everybody has to sort out and what works best for them."

QB wasn't a priority for Cowboys

April, 27, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- With Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson and Landry Jones available in the fourth round Saturday, it looked like the Cowboys could have had to chance to do something they don’t do often and draft a quarterback.

By the time they picked at No. 114, only Jones was available and he went to Pittsburgh with the next pick.

Barkley went No. 98 to Philadelphia, Nassib went to the New York Giants at No. 110 and Wilson went to Oakland at No. 112.

The last quarterback the Cowboys drafted was Stephen McGee (fourth round) in 2009. Since 1990 the Cowboys have drafted only three quarterbacks: Bill Musgrave (1991), Quincy Carter (2001) and McGee.

The Cowboys have Tony Romo, who turned 33 earlier in the week, Kyle Orton and Nick Stephens on the roster and agreed to a deal with undrafted rookie Dalton Williams on Saturday.

“I think every team wants to develop a quarterback,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You want a guy coming along. We feel really good about the quarterbacks we have on the roster right now and what their roles are. If one of those top guys had fallen further we would’ve had another conversation about it. We felt those guys were good players and maybe good value but maybe not for us where we were picking.”
The Cowboys gave quarterback Tony Romo a contract extension through the 2019 season, but that doesn't mean the Cowboys won't draft a quarterback next week.

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Romo, who turns 33 on Sunday, will be the starter for the next three or for years, but it's doubtful he'll he'll play through the end of his contract. Backup Kyle Orton is signed through 2014, but he will turn 31 in November.

There's no reason to dismiss the idea of adding a quarterback through the draft.

"I think it’s all opportunity," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told 105.3 FM on Tuesday. "If you see the right guy is there when it's your turn to pick, you certainly have to look at it. We did it with Stephen McGee three or four years ago, and obviously that was when Tony was even younger."

The Cowboys have drafted just three quarterbacks since 2000 and converted one of those players, Isaiah Stanback, to wide receiver. According to NFL draft experts the 2013 quarterback draft class isn't that strong, so maybe a quarterback can be snagged in the second or third rounds for developmental purposes.

"So certainly it wouldn't stop us if we felt the right guy was there," Jones said regarding drafting a quarterback. "(If) we felt like he had the upside to develop with Tony and Kyle, certainly to be the right fit if the right guy is there."

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