Cowboys sign QB Caleb Hanie

Updated: April 23, 2014, 7:24 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Veteran free-agent quarterback Caleb Hanie has signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Hanie, a Dallas native, had a brief stint with the Cleveland Browns last season after serving as one of Peyton Manning's backups in Denver in 2012.

Hanie started four games for the Chicago Bears late in 2011 in place of an injured Jay Cutler. He finished that year completing 51 of 102 pass attempts for 613 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Bears decided not to re-sign Hanie following that season.

Originally an undrafted rookie free agent out of Colorado State, Hanie spent a combined four seasons in Chicago (2008-11) and appeared in the 2010 NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers where he connected on 13 of 20 throws for 153 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

The signing gives the Cowboys insurance in case No. 2 quarterback Kyle Orton retires. Orton informed his coaches during exit physicals the day after starting the team's season-ending loss to Philadelphia that he was considering retiring from the NFL.

Orton didn't attend the first day of offseason workouts and with starter Tony Romo coming back from back surgery, Hanie gives the Cowboys some flexibility at the position.

If Orton retires, he forfeits a $3 million base salary for 2014 and could also give up $3 million in signing bonus money because he didn't finish out his obligation of his contract.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said recently the team expected Orton to return, and agent David Dunn said his client never seriously considered any other options.

Currently the Cowboys have four quarterbacks on the roster, all with NFL experience. The Cowboys signed former first-round pick Brandon Weeden this spring after he was released by the Browns. The Cowboys liked Weeden when he came out of college at Oklahoma State but didn't believe he was worth using a first-round selection on.

Hanie worked out twice for the Cowboys, last December, after Romo injured his back and on Wednesday at Valley Ranch.

Information from ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins and ESPN's Ed Werder was used in this report.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He is also a talk-show host on ESPN 1000 and the ESPN Radio network.

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