Coming off a 6-10 season where injuries plagued the roster, depth has been a major storyline to follow this offseason for fans of the Dallas Cowboys. The biggest injury obviously being the one suffered by quarterback Dak Prescott that landed him on Injured Reserve five games into last season.
The Cowboys made a very prescient move in early 2020 when they signed three-time Pro Bowl passer Andy Dalton to a one-year deal to backup Prescott. The 33-year old Texas native ended up starting nine games for Dallas and earned himself a nice one-year, potential $13 million deal with the Chicago Bears this year.
With Prescott coming off a devastating ankle injury that robbed him of 11 games in 2020, requiring two surgeries to correct, you’d think the Cowboys would be even more bullish about finding quality depth to add behind Dak as insurance. Considering they signed Dalton last year before the injury, you’d think they’d value the need for quality depth at the position even more today.
Yet, the Cowboys have done nothing this offseason to improve the depth behind Prescott, opting to stick with the underwhelming trio of Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush, and Ben DiNucci. Here’s what Bill Barnwell, a sportswriter for ESPN.com, wrote recently about the Cowboys’ backup passers in an article titled The NFL’s most vulnerable spots: 16 teams that have depth issues behind their stars.
“[The Cowboys] backups this season have a combined 80 career pass attempts, yielding a 52.5% completion percentage while averaging 5.2 yards per attempt. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore might have been a better option than DiNucci and Gilbert for spot starts last season, and the Cowboys won’t want to find out whether those backups have improved in 2021.”
Let’s be honest here. If the Cowboys once again lose Prescott to another season-ending injury, it’s unlikely the team will achieve what it wants to in 2021. And they might just be better off, in the long run, landing another top-ten draft pick.
But we are also talking about playing in the NFC East here, the worst division in the league. A division won by the Washington Football Team in 2020 by posting a losing record of 7-9, backing themselves into the playoffs after losing two of their final three regular-season games.
Even with Dalton under center, the Cowboys were able to win three of their final four games, but it wasn’t enough. The point being, Dallas could still have a solid chance of making the playoffs even with substandard play under center due to the current state of their division.
Unfortunately, now that the draft is over and the bulk of high-quality free agents are gone, the Cowboys have few options for an upgrade. Dallas brought in veteran passers like Jeff Driskel and Brett Hundley for visits this offseason, but it didn’t result in their signings. The biggest names available right now in free agency appear to be Robert Griffin III, Matt Barkley, and Matt Moore.
It seems more than likely that the Dallas Cowboys will enter training camp with their current crop of backup passers on the roster and have them compete. But all the while, they’ll be searching the waiver wire and free agency for any potential quarterbacks to sign who are released between now and the start of the regular season.