The Dallas Cowboys were dealt a tough blow this week when it was discovered that starting quarterback Tony Romo suffered a broken bone in his back after being tackled in the team’s 27-17 defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night. The initial timetable for Romo’s absence was estimated at six-to-10 weeks, according to CBS Sports‘ Jason La Canfora, but head coach Jason Garrett has refused to rule him out for Week 1.
The back injury comes after Romo missed all but three games in 2015 due to a broken left collarbone. The Cowboys ended up going 4-12 as they rotated through quarterbacks Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, and Kellen Moore in an attempt to find a serviceable backup, which never happened.
Knowing that Romo is 36-years-old and has suffered some pretty serious injuries over the past couple of years, the Cowboys went out and selected Dak Prescott out of Mississippi State in the fourth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. While Prescott had a tremendous senior season in Starkville, he was looked at as more of a project by NFL draft experts rather a guy that could contribute right away.
Now, with Romo on the shelf, the Cowboys will turn to Prescott as their starting quarterback after he’s had a marvelous preseason, completing 78 percent of his passes for 454 yards and five touchdowns and adding 53 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground. The problem is that former undrafted free agent Jameill Showers is his current backup and Showers has never attempted a pass in the NFL.
To protect against what happened in 2015, Dallas will need to go out and acquire a veteran backup quarterback in case Prescott happens to get hurt. Here are five quarterbacks who could fit that bill for the Cowboys.
1. Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns
The 37-year-old McCown would make the most sense for the Cowboys as he’s spent the majority of his career as a backup and is coming off of an impressive statistical season with the Browns. McCown threw for 2,109 yards, 12 touchdowns, and only four interceptions in 2015, despite having a terrible receiving corps. Now with Robert Griffin III earning the starting job, McCown would likely be available for a certain price.
2. Geno Smith, New York Jets
A month ago, the Jets were prepared to begin the season with Smith as the team’s starting quarterback and now there are rumors that Bryce Petty has passed him for the backup job behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. Smith hasn’t received a chance to play with an offense as talented as the one in Dallas, and he could come cheaply for the Cowboys.
3. Mark Sanchez, Denver Broncos
It’s become pretty clear that Sanchez lost out on the camp battle for the Broncos’ starting quarterback position as head coach Gary Kubiak seems prepared to go with Trevor Siemian. With first-round pick Paxton Lynch also outplaying Sanchez this preseason, the Broncos could very easily just release Sanchez prior to the start of the season. If he becomes a free agent, the Cowboys could pounce on the former first-round pick.
4. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Amidst all the talk of Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem, Fox Sports‘ Jay Glazer reports that Kaepernick has an “uphill battle” just to even make the 49ers’ opening day roster. If he gets cut, the Cowboys could take a chance on the former Nevada star.
Jay Glazer on Colin Kaepernick: “I’d be shocked if he’s on the 49ers by the time this season ends” https://t.co/YcFyDL4IT4
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 28, 2016
5. Zach Mettenberger, San Diego Chargers
After being reconnected with his former head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, the Chargers were hoping that Mettenberger could be the potential heir apparent to Philip Rivers when Rivers decides to retire. Instead, Kellen Clemens has seemingly beaten Mettenberger out for the backup quarterback job in San Diego, which seems to make Mettenberger available via trade, according to Fox Sports‘ Alex Marvez.
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) August 28, 2016
It’ll be interesting to see what route the Dallas Cowboys go to fulfill their need for a backup quarterback in Tony Romo’s absence.
[Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]