Having a reliable backup quarterback is one of the most underrated strengths on any NFL team. The Dallas Cowboys have certainly benefitted from this many times throughout their history, and they may need to address the position in 2021. One potential option in this year's free agent class is veteran Tyrod Taylor.
The former Virginia Tech standout, and the best QB to play in Blacksburg since Michael Vick, has put together a respectable NFL career over the last 10 seasons. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 while with Buffalo, a 24-20-1 record as a starter, and a career passer rating of 89.5. He's also a true dual threat with 1,850 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.
Taylor is one of those guys who is good enough to help a good team compete but not carry a bad one. In that way he's very much like last year's backup Andy Dalton.
Dalton is set to become a free agent again after a one-year contract with Dallas. He ended up playing far more than expected or desired thanks to Dak Prescott's injury and provided a stabilizing presence that at least kept the Cowboys competitive in Week 17.
Meanwhile, Taylor just finished a two-year run with the Los Angeles Chargers. He was Philip Rivers' backup in 2019 and was named the starter in 2020 over 1st-round pick Justin Herbert, but a freak accident cause by a medical treatment caused Tyrod to miss several games and eventually lose his job to the Chargers' QB of the future.
This now leaves Taylor entering 2021 free agency much like Dalton a year ago; a veteran in his early 30s who no team wants to build around. But Tyrod will definitely be a top name among backup options and one the Cowboys should definitely consider.
One of the best traits in a backup QB is when they can come in and cause little change to the offense. Taylor's ability to run would allow the Cowboys to keep a lot of the same stuff in their offense if he is ever called into action for Prescott.
Of course, this is assuming Dak Prescott is still the Cowboys' starting QB in 2021. While we expect that to happen, even if it's just on a second franchise tag, nothing is certain at this point.
This unanswered question of Prescott's future is all the more reason that Dallas needs a firm backup plan. And even if Dak returns there's still the concern over his major injury in 2020 and any potential recovery setbacks or re-injuries.
This isn't to say that Andy Dalton won't be that backup again. The both parties want to keep working together than Dalton may accept a second contract from the Cowboys if he doesn't get much interest elsewhere.
But honestly, if I had a choice between both players at the same money, I would probably take Tyrod Taylor at this point. He's got youth and superior athleticism on his side, plus is more conservative with the football. His 20 career are interceptions to 54 passing touchdowns is a far better ratio than Dalton, who once threw 20 picks in a single season.
Again, Taylor's solid resume may put him out of Dallas' price range. He could get an opportunity to compete for a starting job somewhere this year.
But if, like Andy Dalton last year, Tyrod Taylor finds himself without a team later into the offseason then he would be a great addition for the Cowboys.