In 2008 we saw how bad it could get if our field general, Tony Romo, went down for any extended period of time. The strength of the backup position was worse than most of us knew as former Super Bowl winner, Brad Johnson, proved his days of even managing a game are far behind him. Brooks Bollinger, who was signed after Mike Jefferson was waived from the practice squad on September 8th, spent most of the season learning the offense. His limited action came in week 9 against the Giants when Johnson’s play was simply too bad to stomach any further. His first throw was an interception. Later, in week 17, Brooks saw mop-up duty after Romo was badly beat up in an embarrassing season ending loss at Philthy. Although it’s been discussed in the media that Dallas might take the cheap way out and hang on to Bollinger for another season, I believe it’s high time to upgrade the position.
The list of free agent quarterbacks this season has a little bit of everything. From high priced veterans to minimum priced backups, Dallas should be able to at least get a shot at getting a backup with NFL experience and a little more promise than a 40 year old has been (ever was?) and a sixth round selection in the 2003 draft out of the University of Wisconsin- Madison, WI (what?).
Here is a list of available free agent QB’s for 2009:
Charlie Batch (UFA) – Pittsburgh
Brock Berlin (RFA) – St. Louis
Kyle Boller (UFA) – Baltimore
Brooks Bollinger (UFA) – Dallas
Todd Bouman (UFA) – Baltimore
David Carr (UFA) – NY Giants (resigned)
Matt Cassel (UFA) – New England (franchised)
Kerry Collins (UFA) – Tennessee
Bruce Eugene (RFA) – Tampa Bay
Ryan Fitzpatrick (UFA) – Cincinnati
Charlie Frye (UFA) – Seattle
Jeff Garcia (UFA) – Tampa Bay
David Garrard (UFA) – Jacksonville
Rex Grossman (UFA) – Chicago
Joey Harrington (UFA) – New Orleans
Drew Henson (RFA) – Detroit
Byron Leftwich (UFA) – Pittsburgh
J.P. Losman (UFA) – Buffalo
Jamie Martin (UFA) – San Francisco
Luke McCown (UFA) – Tampa Bay
J.T. O’Sullivan (UFA) – San Francisco
Dan Orlovsky (UFA) – Detroit
Patrick Ramsey (UFA) – Denver
Chris Simms (UFA) – Tennessee
Brian St. Pierre (UFA) – Arizona
Marques Tuiasosopo (UFA) – Oakland
Kurt Warner (UFA) – Arizona
Anthony Wright (UFA) – NY Giants
The one name on that list that seems the most intriguing is Byron Leftwich. Although Leftwich is not a mobile quarterback by ANY stretch of the imagination, he has the other skills necessary to get the job done. In 2008 he proved that on a $645,000 contract with a mere $40,000 signing bonus. Last year he completed 21 of 36 attempts for 303 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 104.3 passer rating. Good enough to explore a starting role somewhere else, but not a lock to get picked up as such.
Another road we should also explore, is drafting a young quarterback with the skills necessary to be competitive in the future. The crop this year is relatively slim, considering we likely wont be moving up to the first round where Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez and possibly even Josh Freeman are projected to be taken. I’m guessing, if we do take a QB in this draft, it will be from the 4th round or later.
Here are a few quarterback prospects projected to go around that area:
Nathan Brown, Central Arkansas Height: 6-0. Weight: 217
Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State Height: 6-2. Weight: 224
Pat White, West Virginia Height: 6-0. Weight: 190
Graham Harrell, Texas Tech Height: 6-2. Weight: 217
Cullen Harper, Clemson Height: 6-2. Weight: 227
I would’nt mind drafting any one of these guys, although lately I’ve been favoring Cullen Harper. Harper, who in 2007 threw 2,887 yards, 27 touchdowns and only six interceptions, had a miserable senior campaign and ended up getting benched. He was once a first round prospect, who many believe would still be had it not been for his idiot coach, Tommy Bowden. I believe he can be had in the 5th round this year, allowing us to focus on other needs first.
Next up: Offensive Line