Dallas Cowboys: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at Quarterback
The Dallas Cowboys know who their starting quarterback will be heading into the 2014 NFL season. Tony Romo will be under center Week 1 for America's Team, but behind him there have been a number of changes made.
Since the end of last season, Kyle Orton has debated retirement and the duo of Brandon Weeden and Caleb Hanie have been brought in. West Texas A&M product Dustin Vaughan was also brought in as an undrafted free agent, though it'd take a lot for him to make the final roster cut.
Dallas has recently gone away from carrying more than two quarterbacks on its regular-season roster. That trend very well could change in 2014 with Orton possibly not returning. Without Orton, Dallas would be without a veteran presence at the position outside Romo.
The backup positions behind Romo are up for grabs between the newcomers. Here is a complete look at Dallas' quarterback situation and who is likely to take the No. 2 and No. 3 positions once the preseason concludes.
Starter: Tony Romo
Romo is the unquestioned starter for the Cowboys and will be back from his most recent back surgery before Week 1 comes around. After posting 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions last season, Romo will look to post similar, if not better numbers in 2014.
The Eastern Illinois product will have new guard Zack Martin and wide receiver Devin Street joining his offense. Martin should provide Romo with some solid protection up front. No. 9 will also be hoping Street can perform as well as Terrance Williams did his rookie season.
There's little reason to expect anything but another solid season under center for Romo. He has thrown for 90 touchdown passes and nearly 13,000 yards passing over the last three years. Regardless of what some might say about Romo, he is one of the best in the league at his position and should play like such in 2014.
No. 2: Brandon Weeden
Weeden might not have put together the best of highlight reels in Cleveland, but he's already turned the heads of some Cowboys.
"I'm excited to work with him," tight end Jason Witten told Carlos Mendez of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I think he feels like he's got something to prove. [It's] been a great offseason with him," Witten continued.
Romo now taking it easy during full offense routes in air. Brandon Weeden working with the 1s. No Kyle Orton— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) May 27, 2014
Weeden posted a combined 23 touchdowns and 26 interceptions during his two years in Cleveland. He has a career completion percentage of just under 56 percent.
His numbers aren't overly impressive, but the Cowboys and Browns are too very different teams in terms of talent. Given the fact he'll be working with quarterback coach Wade Wilson and Jason Garrett, Weeden's mechanics should improve as well. Weeden might be 30 years old, but he still has time to fix the issues that plagued him in Cleveland. He couldn't ask for two better coaches.
It's far too early to write off the former first-round selection. Weeden should be able to lock up the No. 2 job and step in if Romo is unavailable.
No. 3: Caleb Hanie
Most NFL fans remember Hanie from his days in Chicago, specifically 2011, when he started and lost four games with the Bears. In those losses, Hanie posted a completion percentage of 50, three touchdowns and 613 passing yards.
Unlike Weeden, Hanie has not received compliments from Dallas' future Hall of Fame tight end. He is however, an experienced backup quarterback. In addition to his time with the Bears, Hanie has spent time with the Broncos, Ravens and Browns.
Because of Weeden's high draft status and the way Dallas has used him in OTAs so far, it would appear the No. 3 job is his to lose. The Cowboys also brought Weeden in via free agency before Hanie.
It would be surprising to see Hanie win the backup job. Weeden has had more success in the NFL and it has come more recently. Hanie hasn't seen regular-season action since 2011 and Weeden has been the one getting first-team snaps so far.
As far as No. 3 options go, there are certainly worse quarterbacks out there than Hanie. He is unlikely to see a regular-season snap in 2014, but he's a veteran presence at the very least. Romo aside, he's the most tenured NFL QB Dallas currently has on its roster.
The Kyle Orton Situation
In one of the weirder offseason storylines, Orton has been absent from all team activities since the end of last season. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the 31-year-old informed the Cowboys that he plans to retire.
Despite Orton allegedly telling Dallas he's hanging it up, Garrett told ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer back on May 19 that he "anticipates" Orton to be present at the team's mandatory minicamp this month.
Despite the hope the Cowboys still hold of having No. 18 return next year, it seems, in all likelihood, that won't be the case. Garrett will have to rely on the likes of Weeden and Hanie, not Orton, to step up if Romo goes down with an injury.