Late last season, the Dallas Cowboys had arguably one of the best quarterback situations in the NFL. The starter, Tony Romo, was on his way to completing his eighth straight season with a quarterback rating over 90.0. The back-up, Kyle Orton was one of the best “number two’s” to have, proven by his one game appearance that saw him complete over 65% of his passes for more than 350 yards and two touchdowns in a valiant effort to get Dallas into the post season. All was well at Valley Ranch when it came to the most important position in all of football.
Going into this season, the situation is starting to have more questions than a Jeopardy! episode. How is Tony Romo going to respond to his second back surgery at the age of 34? Will Kyle Orton actually ever show up or is he really going to retire? Can Dallas really live with Brandon Weeden as the back-up? Is that REALLY Caleb Hanie? Who is Dustin Vaughan? Since no quarterback was drafted, should the Cowboys trade for a quarterback?
The answers to most of those questions are pretty much either “who knows?” or “maybe.” Not exactly a steady feeling to have.
Today, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of the idea of making a move for a quarterback who might be available despite what is being said publicly.
A recent NFL.com article kicked the idea around of fourth year New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett possibly being available. Chris Wesseling writes:
"Mallett has been connected to the Texans and former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien since early March, with speculation growing especially feverish during draft weekend. Patriots coach Bill Belichick recently insisted he’s not that interested in dealing Mallett, which is another way of inviting prospective suitors to raise their offers. If second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo looks ready for prime time in training camp, a Mallett trade remains possible."
We all know dealing with Belichick is not always the easiest of propositions. As anyone would, he will try to fleece all suitors and win any trade that involves a commodity like Mallett, regardless of how valuable that commodity truly is.
The idea of engaging in such a discussion for the Dallas Cowboys really begins with how they truly feel about their own quarterback situation. I am sure Romo will be ready to go and continue being an upper echelon quarterback once the season starts. Really, the issues are whether or not Orton returns and how Weeden looks in preseason. If Orton does retire and Weeden looks like… well… Brandon Weeden, the need to make a move rises exponentially. Would a fourth or fifth round pick make the deal happen?
The tricky part for Dallas is that you would be making a play for a guy who has exactly four official pass attempts in his career. Now, obviously that is more because of what Tom Brady does right than what Mallett does wrong but still, there is a fairly decent amount of unknown to ponder. All there is really to go off of is what we have seen from Mallett in the preseason. Looking at his numbers over the past three preseasons, you could make a case that it would be a pretty astute move.
2011: 36/63 357 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
2012: 33/67 300 yards, 3 TD’s, 1 INT
2013: 42/76 447 yards, 3 TD’s, 1 INT
While it is taken with a grain of salt due to it being the preseason, the glaring positive in Mallett’s game seems to come from his ability to protect the football. Seven touchdowns against three interceptions looks immaculate in comparison to Weeden’s career numbers of 23 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Throw in the fact that Mallett is five years younger, has a much bigger arm and has WAY less emotional scaring from so many failures and it becomes more and more intriguing.
The cons, of course, come from the lack of any real game experience. There is also the film which shows Mallett struggling with accuracy and decision-making in his short reads and the apparent readiness from New England to move on since they used a second round pick this year to acquire another quarterback.
Ultimately, if it was my call, I would make a run at Ryan Mallett, IF, it cost me no more than a fourth round pick. If Belichick wants to play hardball, I don’t see the point in offering any more than that as the need for Mallett would likely mean another, more serious injury to Romo. In that case, the Cowboys will likely not win much more than four or five games anyways, which would put the new head coach in a position to draft a rookie from the Brett Hundley, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston trio.