NEW ORLEANS -- Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman thinks the Cowboys should be looking to draft a quarterback in this year's draft. Aikman remains a fan of current starter Tony Romo, but he thinks it's time for the Cowboys to address the long-term issue of Romo's successor:
"I don't think they need another quarterback, to make that clear," Aikman said during the chat. "But because of Tony's age, they certainly have to start addressing who the guy is going to be that comes in after him. If there's a guy that they can pick up and maybe develop in the third, fourth round, I think that's a real positive thing for them."
In theory, this makes sense, but I don't know if it's actually true in the case of this year's Cowboys. Dallas projects to be about $18.2 million over the salary cap and has some tough roster choices to make. The Cowboys' focus in this year's draft needs to be on using as many of their picks as possible to address needs on their 2013 roster. The cap issue means they're going to have to find relatively cheap solutions at some key spots, and I think they're better off trying to see if they can spend those third-round and fourth-round picks on players who might be able to make a contribution this season. And yes, I know it's rare for players drafted in those rounds to make an impact right away. But it's not unheard of. And with Kyle Orton already signed up as the backup for Romo, a third-round or fourth-round quarterback would be nothing more than a spare part for Dallas in 2013.
If they find a quarterback they really like in one of those rounds and want to draft him for developmental purposes? Sure, that makes some sense. If that's the way the draft board falls and they're sitting there looking at a guy they think is a steal, the way Mike Shanahan says he felt when Kirk Cousins was still there in the fourth round last year, fine. But the Cowboys don't need to go into this year's draft with developmental quarterback among their priorities.
Romo will be 33 when the season starts and likely will have signed a new long-term contract with the team. The league's rules at this point are designed in such a way that quarterbacks can continue to be safe and healthy and effective into their late 30s. Romo's age is not enough of an alarm bell that the Cowboys need to address the future of the position now by forcing a mid-round pick on a quarterback just for quarterback's sake. They have bigger things to worry about at this point.