The Dallas Cowboys are in a lot of trouble in 2014. They needed to fox a defense that ranked last in the NFL in 2013 and lost their two best defensive linemen in DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher. Now, they have also lost Sean Lee to a season ending ACL after a practice injury. With all that said, Tony Romo is coming off back surgery and Dallas needs to have a parachute in place if he falls to injury again in the 2014 NFL season. However, Kyle Orton doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to come and play this year, and might be willing to pass up over $6 million in income to retire.
With that in mind, and the knowledge that Tony Romo might not make it through the season healthy, here is a look at what the Dallas Cowboys have in store if Romo goes down again this season.
The biggest thing that Dallas wants to happen is for Kyle Orton to come back to the team to back up Romo this season. The problem is that Orton wants to retire. If he does retire, the Cowboys will ask him to return his $3 million signing bonus, plus he will forego his $3.25 million salary for the 2014 NFL season. It looks right now that Orton will give up that $6.2 million to retire, meaning he might really be finished playing football.
In Orton’s final game of the 2013 NFL season, he threw for an impressive 358 passing yards, but tossed a costly interception when Dallas was driving late in the game, costing the Cowboys a chance at the playoffs. Despite the interception, Dallas knows Orton is a good player. At both Chicago and Denver, he was a quality quarterback but Chicago traded him for Jay Cutler and Denver benched him for Tim Tebow. He might just be ready to hang up his pads.
While the fear about Orton retiring makes sense, there has to be a reason that Dallas signed Brandon Weeden in the offseason. With so many needs on defense, and limited funds, the fact that the Cowboys spent $1.2 million on another quarterback has to mean something. The thoughts at the time of his signing were that Orton might not come back. If that is the fact, Weeden has the best chance of being the immediate backup to Romo.
Weeden was the first round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2012 after a fantastic career with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The problem with Weeden is that he is 30, a very old third year pro thanks to his previous career as a minor league baseball player. In two seasons with Cleveland, he has more interceptions (26) than touchdowns (23), but has much better weapons in Dallas then he did with the Browns.
The third option is Caleb Hanie. This would be a worst case scenario, as Hanie has almost no experience, playing for four different teams over his five year NFL career. He signed with Dallas to compete for a backup position. Since 2008, Hanie has only attempted 116 passes and has three touchdowns and 10 interceptions on his career. At the end of the day, Hanie’s chance of beating out Weeden for the job, if Orton retires, is an extreme long shot.