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.