The Dallas Cowboys are on the hunt for a backup quarterback once again. After a visit with free agent signal-caller Jeff Driskel earlier this month, the team is bringing in former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley for a visit.
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is plenty familiar with Hundley as he drafted him out of UCLA in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Hundley’s name isn’t likely to have many fans jumping out of their seats. He hasn’t started a game since 2017 when he started nine in place of an injured Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers won three of Hundley’s starts that season, losing the remaining six as he threw more interceptions (12) than he did touchdowns (nine). He most recently saw game action for the Arizona Cardinals in 2019, attempting just 11 passes in three games with no starts. He re-signed in 2020 but did not see the field.
The Dallas Cowboys need to bring in a backup QB sooner rather than later
While Hundley’s name won’t jump off the page for many fans, it does echo the point that the Cowboys need to bring in more competition for their backup quarterbacks. Outside of Dak Prescott, the Cowboys have Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush, and Ben DiNucci all under contract. However, all three have just two starts and a whooping 90 career pass attempts combined between the three of them.
As it stands right now the Cowboys would likely have an open competition between Gilbert, Rush, and DiNucci to dress behind Prescott on game days. Of the three of them, Gilbert has easily looked the best, nearly winning his lone start against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. However, he’s far from a sure thing with all but six of his career pass attempts coming in that single start.
The Dallas Cowboys have aspirations of winning their division as they enter McCarthy’s second season with the team. If they are serious about that, they need to have a contingency plan in the event Prescott hits a snag in his recovery or goes down for another extended period of time again.
It’s hard to feel good about any of the options the Cowboys currently have behind Prescott. As we get deeper into the offseason, the slimmer the pickings get as far as backup quarterbacks are concerned. It’s true that Dallas can’t afford to pay top dollar for an elite backup, but there isn’t anyone out there who should command that.
All things considered, Andy Dalton was a competent backup last season, giving the Cowboys at least a chance in most games he started. He cashed in on that with a contract from the Chicago Bears where he will presumably be given the chance to open the season as the starter while rookie Justin Fields develops.
There just aren’t many free-agent quarterbacks left for the Dallas Cowboys
This offseason there aren’t any free agents who are on par with Dalton’s ability, but there are players who can provide quality competition thanks to seeing real game experience and can push Gilbert, Rush, and DiNucci throughout the offseason and training camp.
Until recently, Brian Hoyer easily had the most experience of all available free-agent quarterbacks, but he re-signed with the New England Patriots. Similarly, Jeff Driskel visited Dallas a few weeks ago and rumors quickly swirled that he might sign a contract. Ultimately, he didn’t and ended up signing with the Houston Texans.
With players like Driskel and Hoyer taking their talents elsewhere, an already thin crop of players is just getting thinner. This leaves a lackluster list of potential quarterbacks that is headlined by players like Hundley, Robert Griffin III, and Nick Mullens.
Of all the current free agents, Griffin III easily has the most name recognition after winning Offensive Rookie of the Year back in 2012 with the Washington Football Team. While his prior experience and ability to take off from the pocket set him apart from the other free agents, he isn’t even close to being that player anymore though.
Since he left Washington following the 2015 season, he’s played in just 19 games starting seven. In that time he’s thrown a combined 205 passes with just three touchdowns compared to seven interceptions.
Mullens might have the most upside of any of the available free agents. He’s just 26 years old and has started 16 games in three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, including eight last season in place of an injured Jimmy Garoppolo. He has a 5-11 career record and has thrown for 4,714 yards to go along with 25 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He’s not without his own flaws, but right now his ceiling feels higher than any of the other options.
While all of these players still have some holes in their game, they could all serve as better, more experienced options behind Prescott than what the Cowboys currently have. At the very least, they could provide some much-needed competition. Of course, Dallas could also start camp with who they have and wait to see who gets released once cut downs happen around the league.
Backup quarterback is far from the biggest need that Dallas has on their roster right now, but it is an important position where they could stand to improve. The Dallas Cowboys made a big investment this offseason when they re-signed Dak Prescott to a big contract extension. Now, they need to find some quality insurance behind him.