Dallas Cowboys

March 17, 2014

Cowboys sign QB Weeden to low-risk, low-cost deal worth $1.23 million

Brandon Weeden provides insurance in case backup Kyle Orton retires.

Brandon Weeden became the Dallas Cowboys’ backup plan at quarterback Monday when he signed a two-year contract. Weeden comes at a low cost with little risk, having agreed to $1.23 million with no signing bonus, according to a source.

He will make $570,000 this year and $660,000 in 2015. The Cleveland Browns still owe Weeden $2.02 million in guarantees over the next two years, but that would be reduced to $814,000 because of offset language in the contract if he makes the Cowboys’ roster.

With Tony Romo returning from late-season back surgery, the Cowboys needed another arm for their off-season workouts. But Weeden also provides a fallback plan in case Kyle Orton retires.

The Cowboys expect a decision from Orton soon, according to a source. He was wavering on whether to return, but the Cowboys believe it’s unlikely he retires because he would have to repay $3 million on a contract that was renegotiated last year. He is due $3.25 million in base salary this year.

But the Cowboys have liked Weeden since he left Oklahoma State two years ago as the No. 22 overall pick of the Browns. He was 5-15 in 20 career starts in Cleveland, completing 55.9 percent of his passes for 5,116 yards with 23 touchdowns, 26 interceptions and a 71.8 passer rating.

The Cowboys have not carried three quarterbacks on their 53-player roster since 2011, when Stephen McGee served as a developmental prospect after the Cowboys made him a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft.

Weeden visited Valley Ranch on Monday as did Grapevine product Henry Melton. Melton, a free agent defensive tackle, had dinner with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli Monday night after leaving Valley Ranch, according to a source. He has several teams interested in his services, including the Vikings, Bears, Rams and Raiders.

Melton wants a short-term deal to prove his health after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee in October, but he still might be asking more than the Cowboys are willing to spend.

Dallas has less than $7 million in salary cap space after signing Weeden.

Defensive end Jared Allen arrived in town Monday and had dinner with coach Jason Garrett. He will visit Valley Ranch on Tuesday. His asking price likely will have to come down for the Cowboys to have hopes of landing him.

The Cowboys are seeking replacements for defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who signed with the Washington Redskins, and defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who signed with the Denver Broncos after the Cowboys released him.

Free-agent defensive end Anthony Spencer remains on the market.

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