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Roster Reset: Eyes Still On Backup Quarterback?


The free agent signing period is not over by any means, but it certainly has gotten quieter both with the Cowboys and around the league. The focus is shifting now to the NFL Draft, which is scheduled for April 29-May 1.

While it's still possible to see more moves between now and the draft, the bulk of the player movement has already passed. With that being said, let's take a quick look at each position on the roster and see where things stand heading into the draft later this month.

Today, we wrap up the series with the quarterback position.

What Changed? Well, nothing's new at the top of the depth chart except that Dak Prescott will remain the starter for at least the next four years, having signed a franchise-record deal worth over $160 million in March.

Obviously, that's a relief for the franchise after both sides engaged in on-again, off-again negotiations for the past two years. Prescott has been on schedule in his rehab with the athletic training staff this offseason and he's expected to be ready for training camp. He's on his way back, and right on track, after requiring surgery last year to repair a compound fracture/dislocation of his right ankle in Week 5 against the Giants.

The question is depth behind Prescott. Who backs him up now that Andy Dalton (as expected) found a starting opportunity elsewhere, signing a one-year deal with the Bears for $10 million? Dalton went 4-5 as a fill-in starter and threw 14 touchdowns to eight interceptions last year. He was a rarity -- a backup quarterback with over 130 career starts. The Cowboys won't have that kind of luxury behind Prescott this year.

What's Here? Beyond Prescott, the quarterback room has very little regular-season experience. Garrett Gilbert, signed to a two-year after Prescott's ankle injury last October, has only 44 career pass attempts. But he did play well in his first and only career start last year, throwing for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a five-point loss to the undefeated Steelers in November.

Cooper Rush, signed to the Reserve/Future list after the season, was Prescott's primary backup in 2018 and 2019 but has only three career attempts. Ben DiNucci, a seventh-round draft pick last year, struggled in one start against the Eagles, though that was a tough situation for any rookie on short notice.

What's Next? Perhaps more competition? The Cowboys have not signed another backup to this point, though head coach Mike McCarthy recently said the club has had conversations with some veteran free agents and they'll continue to evaluate that spot.

There's always the draft. When McCarthy coached the Packers from 2006-18, Green Bay selected five backups behind Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers over 13 drafts: Brett Hundley, B.J. Coleman, Brian Brohm, Matt Flynn and Ingle Martin. It wasn't an 'every-year' thing, as has been the Packers' reputation, but McCarthy does believe in adding competition for those backup spots.

With 10 picks, that's a possibility, or the Cowboys could circle back to free agency in May. (That's when Dalton signed last year, by the way.)

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