IRVING, Texas - When last year ended and the offseason began, Stephen McGee was the only other quarterback on the roster.
With three seasons under his belt, and Jon Kitna retiring, of course McGee was excited about the opportunity to be Tony Romo's backup for 2012.
Fast forward about six months and things have certainly changed for McGee. He's not only hoping to be the third-best quarterback, but he has to also hope the Cowboys keep three quarterbacks on the roster at all.
With the signing of Kyle Orton, a player many feel could've been a starter somewhere else, the chances McGee has to unseat him for the backup seem rather slim.
He knows that, and he's not real happy about it either, but he understands the game.
"I understand the decision on their end," McGee said. "Do I necessarily have to love it? No. There is nothing I can do about it. The only thing I can do is become a better football player. Do I have a chip on my shoulder about it? Yeah, I do. Without a doubt. But that's a good thing. Hopefully that will make me a better football player."
The Cowboys also re-signed Rudy Carpenter, who ironically was a rookie free agent in 2009, McGee's first year. Carpenter showed some flashes late in the preseason, but it was obvious McGee had a spot on the roster after being drafted in the fourth round that year.
In three seasons, McGee has just 82 career passing attempts, mostly stemming from three games. He did win his only start – the 2010 season finale against the Eagles, who had clinched a playoff spot and rested most of their starters. Playing for the injured Romo and Kitna, McGee rallied the offense to a last-second touchdown to give the Cowboys their sixth win of the season.
The week before, McGee made his NFL debut when he came in for Kitna and nearly rallied the Cowboys to a Christmas Eve win over the Cardinals.
Last year, McGee replaced Romo, who suffered an injured hand against the Eagles, and didn't have his best game, completing 24 of 38 passes for 182 yards and a late touchdown.
But after finishing the year as the No. 2 quarterback, McGee's spot isn't so solid now. If Carpenter outplays him, the Cowboys might consider keeping him.
In fact, they could keep only two quarterbacks and the third player on the practice squad.
With the Cowboys playing four preseason games in a 16-day span, it's likely Tony Romo and Kyle Orton won't get a ton of snaps anyway. That will leave the rest mostly for McGee, and some for Carpenter as well.
But it begs the question if those two guys are competing against each other, or both auditioning for spots with other teams.
Either way, it's not exactly the situation McGee had hoped for a few months ago.