As the Cowboys waived Stephen McGee in early September 2012, the team decided it was more prudent to save a roster space for another contributor rather than keep a 3rd string developmental quarterback. News broke this Tuesday that the Cowboys had been denied a waiver claim on the recently released Mike Kafka. Kafka had been released by New England so they could sign Tim Tebow. The Cowboys likely showed interest for one of two reasons: a) They want a developmental guy in the 3rd quarterback spot to see if they could groom him as a starter in the future, or so that this player could return a premium draft pick in a trade once developed or b) due to injuries and wanting to preserve the health of the top two quarterbacks, wanted another guy in camp to help with the reps and to take snaps during the preseason.
With Romo being 33 and back-up Kyle Orton turning 31 in November, the team seems to be in a good place with their current two quarterbacks who own the top two spots on the depth chart. With the team’s release of McGee who is now currently 27(whom the team put three full seasons of development into) it would make sense if the team was looking at a young guy again to bring in. Kafka is only 25, and has good size at 6’3” and 225 lbs. The Jaguars claimed Kafka due to injuries and wanting to have enough quarterbacks in camp to conduct practice correctly. He could get released again this summer, and the Cowboys could show interest once more.
The Cowboys could also be looking for a third guy to help in camp and the preseason. This would reduce the wear and tear on Romo and Orton, and they could possibly find someone they would want to keep on the 53. While the team also currently has Nick Stephens and Dalton Williams on the roster, the news that the Cowboys were interested in Kafka makes one wonder if there are other guys the team would consider as well. Some notable free agent options on the market currently include the following: Tyler Thigpen, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Matt Leinart, Trent Edwards, Caleb Hanie, Tavaris Jackson, JaMarcus Russell and Vince Young. With teams already being set at the top two spots on their depth charts, these guys at this stage would be content to try and come in and win roster spot on a minimum contract.
Of this group, there are a few I would have interest in bringing to camp and seeing what they have left. Tyler Thigpen and Tavaris Jackson are good athletes that can move pretty well on the run. Jamarcus Russell is probably considered the biggest bust in NFL history, but I would bring him in to see what he can do at this point in time and what potential he shows. He reportedly has lost 50 lbs, changed his life habits, and we all remember the cannon of an arm he once possessed. Vince Young would be the most intriguing to me. Jerry Jones has always loved guys with Texas roots, Young still has the speed, size, and athleticism, and would be ideal to use in red zone situations.
Regardless of what happens going forward, this waiver claim has opened people’s eyes in regards to the Cowboys quarterback situation. The Cowboys filed a waiver claim on Kyle Orton only to be topped by Kansas City upon his release from Denver in 2011. The team proceeded to sign Orton once the free agency period opened the next spring in 2012. With these facts in the background, the team either has a significant interest in Kafka, or an interest in bring a third quarterback into the fold with more experience and ability than Stephens and Williams.
Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH