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5 Backup Quarterback Options for the Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are three games into their four-game preseason slate, and the most prominent remaining question is who will be backing up Dak Prescott come Week 1. Garrett Gilbert has looked less than impressive in his limited time with the starting unit, having yet to lead Dallas on a drive that resulted in a touchdown.

While Cooper Rush had what’s been, by far, Dallas’ best performance in the Cowboys’ 20-14 loss to Houston, his physical limitations also leaves a lot to be desired at the backup position. In a perfect world, America’s Team would see Prescott play every meaningful offensive snap this season.

Still, recent reports that Prescott will likely spend the 2021 campaign at less than 100 percent are more evidence that a competent backup is a necessity in Dallas. Unfortunately, competent quarterbacks don’t grow on trees, limiting the options for the Cowboys.

Too Rich for our Taste

Sure, there are options out there that Dallas would love to have on the roster come September. Buffalo’s Mitchell Trubisky has looked good in the preseason. Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew has a desirable resume for a backup job, considering he’s young and has starting experience.

Tampa Bay’s Blaine Gabbert has been a competent backup ever since his time as a regular starter came to an end in Jacksonville and San Francisco. Chicago’s Nick Foles also appears to be the odd man out in the Windy City.

Each of those teams could choose to part with their veteran backup, but it’s not going to be cheap to acquire them. Dallas isn’t the only team looking for upgrades in their quarterback room.

Washington and Philadelphia would love to improve their situation, considering their starting signal-callers are far from ideal. Atlanta just lost A.J. McCarron to an injury, and the Jets could use a veteran behind Zach Wilson.

The bottom line is the top-notch options are likely to be traded, not cut, and if one gets released, there willing be a bidding process for his services. Instead, let’s look at five realistic candidates that could be available while offering an upgrade over Dallas’ current situation.

joshua dobbs dallas cowboys quarterbacks
Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images

Backup Quarterback Options for the Dallas Cowboys

Joshua Dobbs

The Steelers are in a scenario where the backup on their roster needs to have the upside to replace Ben Roethlisberger in the near future. Both Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins fit the bill, to an extent.

That means Joshua Dobbs will be the odd man out in Pittsburgh, leaving the former fourth-round pick to find a new team. The Dallas Cowboys got a firsthand look at the four-year veteran in the Hall of Fame Game, where he led the Steelers on a second-half scoring drive to help secure a win.

He’s only played in six career games with 45 passing yards and an interception. Still, the Steelers’ willingness to bring Dobbs back in after trading him to Jacksonville in 2019 is evidence of how they value his presence on the roster.

Trevor Siemian

Once upon a time, Trevor Siemian was a Cinderella Story in Denver that beat out first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the chance to quarterback the reigning Super Bowl Champs. Now, he’s watching Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill compete for the starting job in New Orleans while Ian Book takes the backup reps.

Siemian isn’t going to blow anyone away, but he has 25 career starts with more passing touchdowns (30) than interceptions (24). He’s also got a winning record as a starter at 13-12, which shows that he knows how to manage an offense.

I’m not sure how much of an upgrade he is over Gilbert. Still, the only reason I could see Dallas choosing Gilbert in that scenario is that they believe he can develop into the kind of player Siemian has already been.

C.J. Beathard

While the Jaguars could certainly net a decent return for Minshew, he’s also the most experienced quarterback on the roster. I could easily see Urban Meyer holding onto the former starter as insurance, leaving C.J. Beathard to find a new home in free agency.

Still, the former-49er isn’t far behind Minshew when it comes to experience with 12 career starts and 19 appearances. His career 2-10 record is not exactly encouraging, but he’s gone an 18:13 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a career passer rating of 81.1.

Once again, he may not be much of an upgrade over Gilbert, but the experience and ability to manage an offense are certainly enough to make the move.

Ryan Griffin

Once again, Griffin’s future could be dependent on Tampa Bay’s impending decision on Gabbert. Tom Brady isn’t going anywhere, and Kyle Trask is his possible predecessor.

That leaves room for one veteran backup, and considering the Bucs have aspirations of repeating as Super Bowl Champs, Gabbert could be the way to go. Unlike Beathard and Siemian, Ryan Griffin doesn’t have a history of starting in the NFL.

Still, you don’t spend eight seasons as a backup in the NFL without someone believing you’re a capable signal-caller. Sean Payton, Dirk Koetter, and Bruce Arians are all quarterback guys, and they saw fit to keep Griffin around. Could Mike McCarthy be the next?

Brett Hundley

This one shouldn’t be a shocker to anyone. The Dallas Cowboys brought Brett Hundley in for a workout back in May, and he was drafted by McCarthy in Green Bay while playing with current coaching assistant, Scott Tolzien.

Hundley is not in the running for a job in Indianapolis and will likely be available following final cuts, if not before then. Obviously, the Cowboys didn’t see enough to add him to the roster in May, but I’m guessing Dallas was more optimistic about their quarterback position at that time.

Wild Card: Davis Webb or Jake Fromm

Like Tampa Bay, the Bills have their hopes set on hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this season, meaning that keeping Trubisky as their backup could be in their best interest. That means that they will have to part with either Webb or Fromm.

Considering both were highly-touted prospects coming out of college in the last five years, it wouldn’t shock me if Dallas chose to snag either of them if they are released. The issue is that neither has taken part in a regular-season game.

If the Dallas Cowboys were to grab either, I would guess they would do so while retaining Gilbert as their primary backup. Webb or Fromm could eventually supplant Gilbert in that role once they gain a comfortable grasp of the offense, but that will take time.

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