Helman: Chad Henne's New Contract Is Noteworthy For QB-Needy Cowboys

IRVING, Texas – It doesn't directly relate to the Cowboys, but the news coming out of Jacksonville on Thursday offers some interesting insight.

The Jaguars re-signed their backup quarterback, Chad Henne, to a two-year contract worth $8 million on Thursday afternoon. The deal will reportedly include playing time incentives in the event Henne has to fill in for incumbent starter Blake Bortles.

If you paid attention during the 2015 season, you immediately understand why this news is important to the Cowboys.

It's crazy to consider, but the quarterback position is so important in the modern NFL that a quality backup – someone who isn't ideally supposed to play – can command $4 million per year for a roster spot.

That's something the Cowboys will have to consider when the free agent market opens next month. They need to improve their depth at quarterback, as everyone is well aware. Should they opt to go the free agent route, it will likely be a somewhat costly endeavor.

Now, $8 million is not a bank-breaking expense, but it's not cheap for a backup. Henne's deal puts him in the top third of Jaguars' contracts. On this current Cowboys' roster, he'd have the 10th-highest salary on the roster.

Of course, the Jaguars' cap situation allows them to overpay a bit. They're projected to have roughly $50-60 million in salary cap space, and they're one of two teams in the league that's currently under the minimum spending limit set forth by the league.

The Cowboys should have more cap space than they've managed in recent memory, but they're still not anywhere near the top of the league in that category. The unfortunate truth is that they're going to have to compete with teams with money to burn.

Again, considering the importance of the quarterback position, it's not going to be surprising if the prices are inflated for the small number of experienced quarterbacks on the market. The list isn't long or inspiring, highlighted by names like Drew Stanton, Matt Moore and Chase Daniel. The competition to secure one of the few viable quarterbacks could be fierce.

It reminded me of three years ago, when the Cowboys gave Kyle Orton a three-year, $10.5 million deal to provide some insurance behind Tony Romo. At the time, $3.5 million per year for a backup seemed like a steep price.

That price is undoubtedly about to go up. But given the Cowboys' troubles with backups last year, I hardly think they'll mind.

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