NFC East: David Dunn

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones is not pleased backup quarterback Kyle Orton is missing this week’s mandatory minicamp, but he is taking a broader view of the quarterback situation.

Orton
“Well, I think candidly the way I look at it is it has really given us an opportunity, which we really needed to do, and that’s evaluate young quarterbacks or quarterbacks that might could fit in the picture for several years to come,” Jones said. “So I think that’s going to give us a chance to do that.”

Brandon Weeden has taken the first-team snaps the entire offseason with starter Tony Romo limited by December back surgery and Orton’s absence, and he has impressed the coaches and front office with his work.

But is it enough to where the Cowboys would feel comfortable with him as Romo’s backup and not the more tested Orton?

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Jones would not discuss whether the Cowboys have told Orton’s agent that the team does not plan to cut the quarterback. If the Cowboys cut him, then they would not be able to recoup $3.4 million in signing bonus money. If Orton retires, then he would have to repay the Cowboys the bonus money from the deal he signed in 2012.

Jones said he has not had direct conversations with Orton, but the team has spoken with Orton’s agent, David Dunn, who also represents head coach Jason Garrett and passing game coordinator Scott Linehan.

Orton missed Monday’s physical, which subjects him to a fine of $10,930. By missing Tuesday’s workout he could be fined $11,575. If he misses all three days, then he would be fined $69,455. If he doesn’t show up for training camp, then he would be fined $30,000 for each day he misses. A $75,000 de-escalator has already kicked in Orton's contract for missing the workouts. With the fines and de-escalator, Orton's $3.25 million base salary would be reduced to $3.09 million if he plays.

“The bottom line is we’re just playing this as we move along on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis,” Jones said.

It has turned into a game of chicken between the sides. The next deadline comes when the Cowboys travel to Oxnard, California, for training camp on July 22. According to the collective bargaining agreement, if Orton misses the first six days of training camp, he would have to forfeit up to 15 percent of his yearly signing bonus proration. After six days, he would forfeit 1 percent of the proration for each day, maxing out at 25 percent. There are further penalties if he continues to sit into the regular season.

“As you know this game is for sure one thing, and that is when somebody is not here, somebody else steps up,” Jones said, “and that’s what we’ll be doing with our roster.”

Is Austin the best WR in the league?

July, 22, 2010
7/22/10
2:00
PM ET
Most of you know that the Beast doesn't write a word without looking at every available metric. But we're no match for ESPN.com's KC Joyner, aka the Football Scientist, a man who crunches numbers for a living. This time, Joyner's outdone himself by suggesting that Houston's Andre Johnson isn't even the best wide receiver in the state of Texas.

Johnson
Johnson
Austin
After looking at 10 categories and making a deft reference to Bear Bryant, Joyner has concluded that Miles Austin is perhaps the best receiver in the league. If you're an ESPN Insider, you can read the entire story. If not, I've decided to circumvent company policy and reveal a couple of paragraphs.

Joyner says Austin has a "better set of metrics" than Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss and Reggie Wayne, too. He uses the wildly popular yards per attempt (YPA) metric in the Johnson-Austin showdown. The 10 categories included short, medium and bomb-length passes. Joyner also took a long look at how the two wide receivers did against some of the league's top cornerbacks.

Long-suffering Texans fans had clung to the perception that Johnson was the best receiver in the league, but with one mighty column, Joyner has broken their spirit. Let's take a peek at one of the most interesting portions of the column:
Another way to measure receiving excellence is to see how well each wideout did when facing varying levels of competition," writes Joyner. "I went through the breakdown charts I did on every game from the 2009 season and pulled out the plays where a receiver faced a cornerback. I then assigned color-coded grades to the cornerbacks based on their 2009 YPA totals (which can be found in the KC Joyner Metricmania section in the 2010 ESPN The Magazine fantasy football preview).

Against cornerbacks who yield YPAs of 7 yards or fewer on average (red-rated CBs): Austin was hardly fazed by elite competition, as he posted 12.0 YPA against them. Johnson's 8.0 YPA in this category ranked 18th in the league but didn't keep up with Austin's total.

There's a lot more where that came from if you're an Insider. If you're not a paying customer at this point, just know that Joyner's metrics indicate that Austin may be the most underpaid wide receiver in the history of the league. Jerry Jones is hoping Austin's agent, David Dunn, is not an ESPN Insider.

It's actually pretty fascinating stuff, but everyone's waiting to see if Austin can repeat his performance now that he's not sneaking up on anyone. Oh, and there's the whole SI jinx thing to worry about if you've seen this week's issue. So do you guys put any stock in the Football Scientist's discovery? Did Austin actually have a better season than Johnson?

Can't we allow Texans fans to have at least one claim to fame since they're still waiting on that first playoff appearance? I'll try to find some metrics that suggest Matt Schaub had a better '09 than Tony Romo. Maybe that will smooth things over.

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