With the NFL offseason now officially underway, it's never too early to start focusing on the next order of business, which is free agency. The Cowboys have 20 unrestricted free agents who can sign with other teams starting on March 9, unless they strike a new deal with the Cowboys before then.
Over the next two weeks, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will break down each free agent, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses and the possibilities of a return in 2017.
Today, we'll continue the series with quarterback Kellen Moore.
What's The Deal: Funny how much changes in a year. In the spring of 2016, Kellen Moore was coming off a promising stint as the Cowboys' starter during the final few games of a 4-12 season. Despite his smaller stature, there were plenty of people interested to see how much he could improve during his second season in the Cowboys' offense.
Mere days into training camp, all of that changed forever. Moore's broken ankle during one of the first practices of the summer opened the door for Dak Prescott to become the Cowboys' backup. Everyone knows how the rest of the story played out. Now, Moore is once again being considered an option as the Cowboys' No. 2 quarterback – only this time he'd be behind Prescott.
Cowboys Highlight: It certainly wasn't a perfect performance, but Moore's accomplishments against Washington in Week 17 of the 2015 season were pretty impressive for a guy starting his second game.
Moore bombed away for 435 yards and three touchdowns against the Redskins in what was essentially a meaningless finale. Washington had already clinched the NFC East, and the Cowboys had one of the worst records in football. Even still, Moore put together a passer rating of 100.6 while throwing touchdowns to Jason Witten and Cole Beasley.
It's hard to celebrate the feat too much, given that the Cowboys still lost the game to close out an abysmal season. But consider this fact: Moore joined Don Meredith, Troy Aikman and Tony Romo as just the fourth 400-yard passer in franchise history.
Argument to Keep: While on injured reserve, Moore stayed active in his downtime. The fifth-year veteran dove into the playbook, and Cowboys coaches said he was essentially functioning as an extra coach by the end of the season. Suffice to say: he's familiar with the offense. Given his relative lack of experience and his unimposing stature, he's also likely to be an affordable player. The Cowboys shouldn't have to spend too much money to keep him in the fold. On top of that, there's this fact: nobody in the NFL loves Moore's skillset more than Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
Argument to Let Go: The Cowboys have a history of paying good money for quarterback insurance. They made Kyle Orton one of the best-paid backups in the league not too long ago. They also traded away a fifth-round pick to bring in Matt Cassel behind Brandon Weeden back in 2015. Given that Dak Prescott is just 23 years old, perhaps the front office would prefer a more experienced option in the room. This hinges a bit on Tony Romo's future, but it couldn't hurt to have an older, wiser player working with the young starter.
Bryan Broaddus' Scout's Take: The front office had a plan for Kellen Moore -- but that went out the window quickly. I could see a situation where they bring him back on the roster instead of Mark Sanchez. As good as both were for Dak Prescott in his development, Moore is a better player than Sanchez if something were to happen to Prescott. Moore doesn't have the same arm talent as Sanchez, but where he is clearly better is in his football intelligence. His touch and accuracy on certain routes is where it needs to be. Moore is not going to power the ball down the field, but the routes that require quarterback movement, such as boots and waggles, he will be able to execute. Where Moore is also an improvement over Sanchez is in his poise, anticipation and general awareness. In watching Moore, I believe that there is less of a chance of that critical mistake which we've seen in the past from Sanchez. I could see the front office allowing the decision to re-sign come down to a call by the coaching staff and which guy they feel the most comfortable with. If that is the case, my money is on Kellen Moore.