Entering free agency, the Cowboys knew they wanted to add an experienced backup quarterback. Developmental arm Stephen McGee has three years in the system, but little game experience.
As the team learned in 2011, the margin between making the playoffs and missing them is razor sharp. Jerry Jones said in February the team wouldn't be able to afford losing a game or two because the backup quarterback wasn't better.
As potential backups go, there would seem to be few better options in the league than Kyle Orton, who signed a three-year deal with the Cowboys on Wednesday. The team had attempted to claim Orton from waivers in the middle of the season, but he was awarded to Kansas City.
There was some belief Orton would attempt to land a starting job in the league, but with Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin taking up four of the open spots, he actually had few choices.
And despite the fact they've been grooming McGee for three years, the Cowboys were happy to swoop in for Orton.
"I think anytime you get a chance to get a veteran who's had playoff success and had the career that Kyle's had ... I think it's the right thing to do," Stephen Jones said. "The game's a tough game. As we all see throughout any given year, these quarterbacks are going to get injured for periods of time. And if we can have a veteran, it's nothing against Stephen, but if a veteran can give you a chance to step in and continue to have success and not drop off, then we felt like we needed to do that.
"At the same time, Stephen, I'm still excited about his future. He hasn't had a lot of opportunities yet, so it's tough to know for sure, but we still feel good about Stephen."
One of only three players from the 2009 draft still remaining on the roster, McGee will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season.