The quarterback situation for the Cowboys

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
2:20
PM ET
On Friday evening, Dallas Cowboys officials will interview Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at the NFL scouting combine. This isn't a big deal because the Cowboys, like most NFL teams, interview at least 60 players in Indianapolis.

It's just part of the process teams go through when evaluating talent.

When it comes to the quarterback position, the Cowboys live and die with Tony Romo as the starter. Kyle Orton is the backup, and at some point a developmental quarterback will be found whether as an undrafted free agent or drafted.

Garrett
Garrett
In the next few seasons, maybe this season, the Cowboys have to draft a quarterback. Romo will be 34 when Week 1 starts. Orton turns 32 in November. We're not saying Romo and Orton are past their primes, but the Cowboys have the oldest quarterbacks in the division.

Romo is older, yes, older than New York Giants QB Eli Manning, who turned 33 last month.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he can't invest a first-round pick on a quarterback because he's got so much financial interest with Romo, who is signed through 2019.

It doesn't mean the Cowboys can't look at other places in the draft to snag a quarterback.

Jimmy Garoppolo, AJ McCarron, Logan Thomas and Zach Mettenberger are some second-day draft picks the Cowboys can add to the roster. But the problem stems from coach Jason Garrett's contract status.

He's in the final year of his contract and his uncertain status after 2014 raises questions.

Do you want to draft a quarterback, only to have him learn the timing-based offense in 2014 and then learn a new offense in 2015 if Garrett is fired?

Say you draft a quarterback in the fourth round, then you let Garrett go, does the quarterback fit the system of the new head coach?

Romo will go through the same situation, but he's been a starter since 2006, so he can adjust to most offenses.

The Cowboys' quarterback situation is interesting -- but what to do for the future for a franchise that's missed the postseason the last four seasons makes you think about it now.

"I think like with any position there is a lot of different factors that go into it," Garrett said at the combine on Thursday when asked about evaluating quarterbacks. "You certainly need to have the physical traits to play. I do think quarterbacks come in different shapes and sizes, though. Drew Brees has been a great quarterback in this league for a long time. He’s six-feet tall. Russell Wilson is in that dimension. Some guys are prototype guys. I do think all of the great ones have similar traits though, similar intangible traits. They love the game and work very hard at it. They’re mentally tough. They’re physically tough. You have to have the physical traits of being able to move around enough and throw the football at this level."

Garrett added: "I think all the great ones have those as well. Instincts are really important to play this game, really important to play that position. And I think the great ones, the guys that are successful in this league, certainly have very good instincts for the game. I think those are the traits you are looking for. Like you said, sometimes they are hard to identify those traits. They show up in college and for some reason they don’t translate to the NFL for some guys. Sometimes that has to do with the environment they go into. Some guys go to a friendlier environment than others and they have a lot of success as a result of that. Others go to a more challenging environment and they don’t have success early and it’s kind of hard for them to undo that. But it’s a challenging position to evaluate. There’s no question about it. But I think the really good one have a lot of the same kind of traits."

Quarterback isn't a position of need, at least right now, but you do have to address it.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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