On March 10th the Cowboys had a visit with free agent quarterback Matt Moore. The 31-year-old ultimately decided to re-sign with the Miami Dolphins and we have no idea if the Cowboys made him an offer, let alone what the financial terms of it were.
What we do know is that Dallas didn't bring Moore in just to catch up with an old friend. The Cowboy were clearly in the market to add a veteran passer and there's no reason to think they aren't still interested. So, who else is out there?
Here's a look at the best of the remaining free agent quarterbacks and my thoughts on how they'd work in Dallas. I've ranked them in the order by which I'd like to see them signed.
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick
The obvious first choice, Fitzpatrick threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns last year with the Jets. He will likely end up signing somewhere as a starter, perhaps returning to New York or landing in Denver. However, at 33-years-old, there's always the chance that Fitzpatrick won't get the starting job that he probably deserves.
The chances of Fitzpatrick coming to Dallas are slim. Not only would he a guaranteed backup behind Tony Romo but there's no way Dallas would pay him more than a few million per year. Money has been the big hangup between Fitzpatrick and the Jets so it's hard to see him taking such a massive pay cut on top of not being able to compete for the starting job.
However, something is always better than nothing. If Fitzpatrick gets desperate then he may look at Romo's health issues and see an opportunity in Dallas. Even if it's only for one year, it may be a chance to get in some games and stay relevant for next year's free agent market. It's highly unlikely, of course, but not entirely impossible.
The drop off from Fitzpatrick to the rest of the pack is steep, but that's what happens in the fourth week of free agency. Clausen, a former second-round pick, will turn 29 in September and has played with three teams since entering the league in 2010.
Last year Clausen, the third-stringer in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub, ended up starting in back-to-back games in December. At home against two very good defenses, Seattle and Kansas City, Clausen had two solid stat lines: 274 yards and a pick against the Seahawks followed by 281 yards, two touchdowns, and two picks against the Chiefs. He also had five runs for 30 yards against Kansas City.
Obviously I don't think Clausen is anything great, but he has a good arm, quick release, and the mobility to do well in our offense. He has a lot more experience than Kellen Moore and would at least be competition for the backup job.
Still just 28, Freeman isn't that far removed from the guy everyone was projecting to be a breakout star in Tampa Bay. He was out of the NFL for most of 2015 but got signed for a single game by the Colts in Week 17.
It's no secret that Freeman was highly immature and blew his chance with the Bucs with poor behavior and lack of leadership. There's always the chance that Freeman has been humbled and matured from those experiences. If so, his raw talent is probably better than anyone on this list. He's worth a look, if nothing else.
At this point you can just start throwing out names. Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Whitehurst, Kellen Clemens... they've been hanging around depth charts for years. If you have one whose skill set you thinks fits well with your offense then you can bring them in to compete with Kellen Moore.
While I would've liked Matt Moore a lot better than this group, you could argue that the talent difference may not be much. Moore has just proven more from time as a starter and I liked that he's been here before with both Romo and Garrett, albeit nine years ago. Ultimately, plenty of guys have comparable talent.
5. Johnny Manziel
Only if everyone is gone and Quincy Carter refuses to come out of retirement.
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class
Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.
By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.
While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.
The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.
Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.
Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.
Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.
Okay, hear me out.
The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.
Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.
Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.
Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.
It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.
Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.
Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.
Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.
If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
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