When the Cowboys report to training camp on July 22 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions will still need to be answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rowan Kavner, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp. The questions will vary in importance, with the most pressing topics getting brought up in the days closest to camp.
Today, the staff looks at the quarterback position, analyzing the absence of Kyle Orton and how it might affect the team moving forward.
20) Can the Cowboys afford to lose Kyle Orton?
Rowan Kavner – It really depends on Tony Romo's health, but I wouldn't want to go into the season without Kyle Orton if I didn't have to. I think the Cowboys are playing it the right way, waiting for him to make his ultimate decision while letting him return his money for each mandatory day missed. But if I'm the Cowboys, I still want him back. Nobody can be sure what the team has in Brandon Weeden yet. One can only learn so much from a player without pads on during offseason drills. Conversely, they have a pretty good idea what Orton can bring. If he ends up missing all of training camp, it's another story and he'll be way behind physically and mentally. But if he returns at the start of camp, it would behoove the Cowboys to welcome him back until they know what Weeden can provide.
David Helman: I'm going to preface this by saying I don't think the Cowboys are going to sniff the playoffs if Tony Romo is missing for a big chunk of time this season. That said, I feel far better about their chances of competing if Kyle Orton returns for his contract year. He's posted winning records as a starting quarterback in three different seasons during his career, and he has shown the capacity to put up solid numbers in that role. I still agree that brining in Weeden was a smart move by the Cowboys, but he has done nothing to prove he can capably keep a team competitive during the grind of an NFL season. As he proved in Week 17 last season, Orton can keep this team competitive. With Weeden, I'm not so sure.
Nick Eatman: If we were talking about a night-and-day difference in player, I might have a different opinion, but I think I'm ready to roll with Brandon Weeden right now, regardless what Orton does. Sure, they've had different careers, but so has DeMarcus Ware and George Selvie, yet the Cowboys made their choice there. The point to that is while we think we know what Orton provides, who's to say he will come back and be that committed, tape-studying, staying-in-shape, being-ready backup that he's been. Right now all we know is that he's paying not to be here. To me, Weeden has shown me enough to prepare him to be the backup. I know Romo's health is an issue but if he was good enough to be a first-round pick two years ago, I think he's good enough to be a backup behind an offensive line that has three first-rounders on the line, along with Pro Bowl players at receiver, tight end and running back.
Bryan Broaddus: As well as Brandon Weeden has come in and performed at a respectable level running the first offense, Kyle Orton still gives you a better chance to win games right now if something were to happen to Tony Romo. There was a reason that Jerry Jones made the financial commitment to Orton when he was on the open market two seasons ago. As much as the signing of Weeden was a big picture move by this front office to take a look at a player that sat highly on their draft board, the comfort level with him as a potential starter at this point cannot be as great as it is with Orton. There are proven games with Orton as a starter, while with Weeden, all we have seen is struggles. The loss of Kyle Orton would be a big deal.