While many Cowboys fans are thinking about possibilities for the team's defense, with a gaping hole at cornerback and help needed in the pass rush, one particular offensive need must be filled in free agency. The Cowboys will need to find a new backup quarterback within a couple of weeks after free agency begins on Tuesday.
Since Jon Kitna retired, the Cowboys have been left with a need for someone to stand behind Tony Romo in case he gets injured. Considering that Romo has suffered four significant injuries in the last four seasons, a capable backup is a must.
Stephen McGee, the other quarterback currently on the Cowboys roster, has done little to deserve consideration for the job. In three NFL games, McGee has thrown for 420 yards, completing 56.1 percent of his passes and throwing three touchdowns.
In Week 16, the former Texas A&M Aggie was unable to keep up with Michael Vick's passing onslaught after Tony Romo left the game with a brused hand. Before anyone could blink, Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles had mounted a 20-0 lead. McGee threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Miles Austin, but the game was long gone by then.
Even Rex Grossman, now a free agent, could have thrown two touchdowns in that time.
The Cowboys have a handful of able-bodied backup quarterbacks waiting for them to insert them in the depth chart. The following list details five good possibilities for the Cowboys backup job.
The man on the left, Brady Quinn, had a terrific training camp for the Denver Broncos last summer. Meanwhile, the man on the right, Tim Tebow, had what some observers called the worst camp of the four quarterbacks fighting for position on the Broncos roster.
Even worse than practice squad quarterback Adam Weber.
Still, the Broncos shafted Quinn and caved to Tebowmania, letting Tebow rise up the depth chart and star for the team.
Quinn had to wonder just how hard a guy who was supposed to be a strong quarterback coming out of Notre Dame had to work to make it in a quarterback battle.
Now, Quinn has the opportunity to show the world that the Broncos were wrong to give in to the Tebow fanatics. He'll likely be eager to show a team that he can be a reliable backup who can provide a big game when the starter goes down.
Quinn's three years with the Cleveland Browns were anything but impressive. He completed 52.1 percent of his passes and had a 66.8 rating for the Browns.
He'll likely be trying to show that those days are behind him.
Josh McCown had to be one of them.
McCown had a nice audition for any team that might be looking to sign him. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 160 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the winning effort.
McCown's career resume isn't exactly impressive. He's completed 58 percent of his passes in his career, and has 37 touchdown passes against 44 interceptions.
Still, his ability to manage the game should have impressed some teams. The Cowboys should keep an eye on McCown if other quarterbacks slip by in free agency.
Chad Henne saw his time with the Miami Dolphins go sour. The steady hand for the team that lived and died by the Wildcat just wasn't steady enough. He threw for 7,114 yards, 31 touchdowns and 37 interceptions in his Dolphins career. In 2010, Henne threw for 2,878 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, posting a 75.4 rating.
Henne was benched early in the 2011 season for Matt Moore. After that, little was seen of him.
Now, the Michigan product will be looking to start his career again, likely as a backup.
Henne has some of the skills that the Cowboys would like in a backup quarterback. He can manage an offense. Further, Henne is somewhat accurate and has a strong arm.
If the Cowboys chose Henne as their next backup quarterback, then they wouldn't lose all hope if Romo went down. Henne would likely be able to run the offense as Romo would, although he'd throw more interceptions.
Still, Henne could start a nice run as a backup quarterback in Dallas if Jerry Jones were to connect with him.
Last season, Vince Young received his official indoctrination as a backup quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles made good use of Young to serve as Michael Vick's double. Young played seven games, starting three.
In that time, Young wasn't exactly thrilling. He threw for 866 yards, four touchdowns and nine interceptions, while completing 57.9 percent of his passes. The Eagles won one of his three starts.
Young's career statistics show underachievement for the former first-round pick. He has completed 57.9 percent of his passes and thrown for 8,964 yards, 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions in 61 games.
The 28-year-old is surely figuring out how to sort his life out after a tumultuous start to his career. One can look at his injuries, streaky play and disappearance in Tennessee, and then at his personal stability while with the Eagles.
Young seems like he's sorting things out.
As long as Young can keep his feet on the ground, he could be a capable backup option for the Cowboys.
Shaun Hill looks like the best quarterback who certainly looks like a backup. Kyle Orton and Jason Campbell may be trying to hang on to their starting prospects. Meanwhile, Vince Young, Chad Henne, Josh McCown, Brady Quinn, Rex Grossman and others don't quite measure up to Hill.
Hill is a solid backup, having put in plenty of time as a fill-in. In 2010, Hill took Matthew Stafford's place when Stafford went down. He did a nice job, passing for 2,686 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, while completing 61.8 percent of his passes.
He was a three-year backup for the San Francisco 49ers before going to Detroit. He played three games in 2007, nine in 2008 and six in 2009. In 2008, he threw for 2,046 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions, he and J.T. O'Sullivan took turns under center.
The Maryland product is a strong backup. He completes passes at a fair rate, can lead touchdown drives and doesn't throw too many interceptions. His arm is good enough to throw some of the passes that the Cowboys offense would demand.
However, if Jerry Jones chooses, he could persuade Hill to go to Dallas to provide backup services.