It’s way past time for the Dallas Cowboys to draft a quarterback

The Cowboys got it right by drafting Troy Aikman first overall in 1989. He guided them to three Super Bowl titles.
The Cowboys got it right by drafting Troy Aikman first overall in 1989. He guided them to three Super Bowl titles. Star-Telegram archives

The Dallas Cowboys made a mistake in free agency by not addressing their backup quarterback position. They can’t compound that mistake in the NFL Draft this week.

Starting quarterback Tony Romo hasn’t played a full season since 2012, missing games in 2013 and 2014 with back injuries and in 2015 with a twice-fractured collarbone. The 14-year veteran underwent off-season surgery on his left collarbone.

Yet, Jerry Jones insists Romo has several good years ahead of him. The Cowboys’ owner uses that logic when downplaying the need to use one of the team’s nine draft picks to select a quarterback.

“I can give you a real scenario where it can be pretty problematic if we do what we want to do, and that’s have Romo play fairly injury-free and uninterrupted for the next three, four, five years,” Jones said. “If he plays uninterrupted, then you’ve got a problem if you pick the quarterback this year, because you don’t know what you’ve got, really at a time when he may be entering the [free agent] market. There’s an example of that this year [in Denver with Brock Osweiler]. And so that’s one of the things you weigh if you’re in our shoes about whether to get interested in a quarterback this early in Romo’s career.”

Jones continues to live in dreamland.

Romo turned 36 last week, and the Cowboys have no heir apparent. In fact, they don’t even have a backup they can count on to win in Romo’s absence.

Romo missed 12 games last season, and three backups went 1-11. Kellen Moore and Jameill Showers, who have a combined three games of experience, remain the only backups on the roster after Dallas failed to sign a quarterback in free agency.

The Cowboys looked into Colt McCoy and Chase Daniel and had Matt Moore visit Valley Ranch. All three signed for more money elsewhere.

The Cowboys still could add a veteran to their roster before training camp with Brian Hoyer still on the market and other veteran quarterbacks, including Nick Foles, possibly coming free.

“For whatever the reason, we weren’t able to secure a guy we were comfortable with [in free agency],” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “I do think there are other options out there that we can add depth to where we are, as to where we sit today.”

But the Cowboys still need to plan for the future by spending a draft choice on a young quarterback they can groom. While Jerry Jones insists drafting a quarterback isn’t a priority, it should be.

“In this draft, it’s not a high [priority],” Jones said, “certainly not a high-enough priority to make a bad decision or a forced decision. On the other hand, Tony won’t play forever. But you can get real problematic if you brought a quarterback in here, developed him, and you saw enough in the next three or four years but he really never got in and played.”

The Cowboys have drafted more kickers (two) than quarterbacks (one) since 2007.

The negligence goes back even further, though, as Dallas last got it right in 1989 when it drafted Troy Aikman with the No. 1 overall choice. It lucked into Romo by signing him as an undrafted rookie in 2003 and guaranteed him a roster spot only after starter Quincy Carter failed a drug test.

The Cowboys own the No. 4 overall choice this year. They won’t have an opportunity to draft either of the two highest-rated quarterbacks, with the Los Angeles Rams trading for the top spot and the Philadelphia Eagles moving up to No. 2.

But history shows future starting quarterbacks are available in the second, third and even later rounds. (See Brady, Tom.)

The Cowboys have drafted only five quarterbacks since Jones bought the team in 1989, including Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft. They have paid dearly for ignoring the NFL’s most important position since Aikman retired after the 2000 season.

The five-time Super Bowl champions have a 125-122 record, including a 2-5 postseason mark, since the Hall of Fame quarterback moved into the TV booth.

Dallas’ refusal to draft quarterbacks defines insanity.

If the Cowboys pass on selecting a player at the NFL’s most important position for a seventh consecutive draft, it’s their loss.

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