Quarterback Still The One


DallasCowboys.com Columnist 
Feb. 15, 2004, 5:54 p.m. (CST)

to do with his arm or Testaverde's relationship with Parcells or the color of his skin - or any other cockamamie excuses so many wanted to hand Carter, as if a soft pillow to rest his head upon. This all had to do with trust.

And if you can't even trust your backup quarterback to be there when you most need him, when you are in the second round of the playoffs and your starter has to miss two days of practice, and then come to find out, needs rotator cuff surgery soon after the season, how could you ever trust the dude to be your starter?

Good grief.

In this entire post-Aikman era, with the Cowboys grasping at quarterback straws, from drafting Carter in the first place, to signing Ryan Leaf, to signing Chad Hutchinson, to trading for Henson, releasing Carter was the best decision they've ever made.

Now for the next one.

Who's next?

They had better hope it's Henson, and if the Cowboys aren't sure, they need to find out as soon as possible. And if they already have inclinations he isn't, then no sense lingering. Move on. At some point this quarterback issue has to be settled. The Cowboys just can't be the Chicago Bears or the Detroit Lions, forever more searching for that next franchise quarterback.

And by the time the NFL Annual Meetings take place in Maui, beginning March 20, we should know the answer to this quarterback cube:

If the Cowboys re-sign Testaverde for one year, no bonus, then you'd have to think they believe Henson has a future.

Of if they sign a veteran free agent to like a one- or two-year deal with little signing bonus, then again you'd have to believe they believe in Henson - just bringing someone in as insurance or to buy time.

But if the Cowboys make a financial plunge in free agency, then you'll have your Henson answer. Because you sure wouldn't do what Cleveland did last year with Garcia, sign him to a four-year, $25 million contract, which included a $5 million signing bonus, if you thought your future starter was onboard.

Nor would you do what Washington did last year with Mark Brunell, signing him to a seven-year, $43.36 million contract laced with an $8.6 million signing bonus. Not if you're renting the guy for a season or two, or in Washington's case, nine weeks.

But, hey, you can't cancel the season. You can't go down to Texaco to buy a spare. You gotta get somebody. And the worse thing in this salary cap era is getting backed into a corner and forced to overspend.

Now, of course, there might be some other quarterbacks plummeting into free agency. Seems as though Buffalo will be kicking Drew Bledsoe out the door soon, especially since the Bills used last year's first-round pick acquired from the Cowboys to draft J.P. Losman and owe Bledsoe a $1.05 million roster bonus March 2 to go along with his $3.3 million base salary. They would save $2.2 million of cap space by releasing the just-turned 33-year-old quarterback.

Keep an eye on this, all the while knowing he is one of Parcells' former draft choices. But while doing so, let's not start singing hosannas. You look at Bledsoe's numbers last year for a 9-7 Buffalo team and a quarterback a good eight years younger than Testaverde?

Bledsoe completed 56.9 percent of his passes. Testaverde, 60 percent. Bledsoe threw for 2,932 yards. Testaverde, 3,532 on 45 more attempts. Bledsoe averaged 6.52 yards per attempt. Testaverde, 7.14. Bledsoe totaled 20 touchdown passes. Testaverde, 17. Bledsoe had 16 interceptions on 45 fewer attempts. Testaverde, 20. Bledsoe was sacked 37 times on 45 fewer attempts. Testaverde, 34. Bledsoe had a 76.6 QB rating, matching his 12-year career average. Testaverde, 76.4.

Same difference.

Still think two firsts for Matt Leinart was a crazy notion? Wonder if the Chow-less Leinart now would consider the supplemental?

Gosh almighty, hope Henson and Tony Romo are practicing today.

Because if Henson is not the one or isn't ready by season's start and the free-agent cards don't fall right for the Cowboys, they better have an ace up their sleeve. Otherwise, it's going to cost 'em . . . dearly.

OK, come on, breathe. Continue reading: Page 1 Page 3

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