IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have signed former first-round pick Brandon Weeden to a two-year deal.
Most of the focus early Monday centered on defensive tackle Henry Melton's visit and the expected visit of defensive end Jared Allen on Tuesday, but the former Browns quarterback also visited Valley Ranch on Monday and reached a two-year deal worth a total of $1.23 million.
Weeden was immediately thrown into the mix in Cleveland, starting 15 games his rookie season in 2012 and throwing for 3,385 yards with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He played in eight games with five starts last season for the Browns, totaling nine touchdowns and nine interceptions.
One of Weeden's 20 starts and 23 games played came against the Cowboys in 2012, when he threw for 210 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 23-20 overtime loss at Dallas. Weeden, the No. 22 pick just two years ago, was released last week.
Despite getting drafted in 2012, Weeden is already 30 years old and will turn 31 in October. He began his college football career at Oklahoma State late after pursuing a career in professional baseball.
The Cowboys still have Kyle Orton on the roster as Tony Romo's backup, though there's speculation about whether or not Orton will return next season despite being under contract. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones made it clear at the NFL Scouting Combine he wants Orton, who could choose to retire, to return in 2014. [embedded_ad]
"Let me put it like this, I haven't talked to him and we haven't talked to him directly about anything that has to do with him not playing," Jones said from Indianapolis in February. "I'm assuming he's going to play."
As it stands, Weeden would be the third quarterback on the depth chart behind Romo and Orton, providing another arm at camp and competition for the backup spot. The Cowboys have rolled with just two quarterbacks on the depth chart since Orton's been with the team. They carried three in 2011.
The Cowboys clearly want more arms at camp and capable backups heading into the 2014 season, particularly with Romo coming off major back surgery.
Orton, who's got a $3.25 million base salary and counts $4.37 million against the cap in 2014, nearly led the Cowboys into the playoffs in Week 17 of the 2013 season. He went 30-of-46 for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which sealed the win for the Eagles in the win-or-go-home season finale.
Weeden, Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain are currently the only free-agent signings the Cowboys have made so far. They had another deal set up with linebacker Will Herring before it got called off. After the departures of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, the free agent focus will now turn to Melton and Allen.