Of all the positions the Dallas Cowboys should be considering as the offseason gets underway, the most important one needs to be on the list: Quarterback.
So why not take a flyer on Baylor signal caller Bryce Petty?
Yes, the Cowboys want to win right now. But they also want to create as much room under the salary cap as possible, especially over the next few seasons. You’re familiar with starting quarterback Tony Romo‘s cap figures moving ahead, so it only makes sense to kill two birds with one stone.
Petty would likely come a bit cheaper than present backup quarterback Brandon Weeden, who’s salary cap figure of $660,000 for 2015 is hardly a back-breaker for the franchise. The issue is the fact that Weeden is already on the north side of 30 years old and probably doesn’t represent the long-term future for America’s Team.
In fact, the Cowboys could justify having three quarterbacks on the roster in ’15 for a dollar amount that wouldn’t be unsustainable, at least for a year. Understanding that Weeden’s two-year contract signed last March expires after next season, the timing would be ideal to grab Petty, if possible, around the middle of the draft, if not later.
For starters, Petty is a quarterback with two outstanding years as a starting quarterback in Waco, Texas with the Bears and head coach Art Briles. A total of 8,055 yards passing in those two seasons is hard to ignore, but looking a bit deeper illustrates even more to like.
Petty tossed 61 touchdown passes to only 10 interceptions as Baylor’s starting quarterback. Call him a system passer if you choose, but sometimes the numbers just don’t lie. The Big 12 isn’t exactly the Ohio Valley Conference, the very league that Romo comes from, and the former Panthers quarterback is pretty good, I’d say.
Second, Petty brings another intangible that could be ideal for Dallas. You can’t accuse Petty of not being patient, especially while waiting for his opportunity – and there’s never a guarantee that that will come, even at the collegiate level.
Petty sat behind Washington Redskins starting quarterback Robert Griffin III as a redshirt freshman in 2011 and then rode the pine behind Nick Florence in 2012 before taking the reigns as the starter in 2013. Based on those numbers listed above, it sure seems as though he was prepared to light things up once his number came up a couple of seasons ago.
Petty was in the Heisman discussion following both of his seasons as a starting quarterback. This in itself doesn’t mean that he’s NFL ready or that he’ll even be drafted by the time the offseason process is completed just prior to the ’15 NFL Draft.
Romo’s contract seems to suggest that owner and general manager Jerry Jones really needs him to perform as the starting quarterback for the Cowboys for at least two to three more seasons – don’t bet money that Romo is still playing in the final year of his six-year mega-extension signed in the spring of ’13.
Provided that Romo’s contract is not restructured either this offseason or any others, doubtful I know, 2017 could very well be the final year for his time in Dallas. This, of course, would depend on how he’s performing and where exactly the franchise is, but it’s worth noting that releasing Romo following that ’17 season would result in a cap hit of $10 million.
Doing so after the 2018 season would mean a hit of only $2.5 million, a near certainty given that Romo’s base salary would be $19.5 million, or a lot more, at that point.
However the Cowboys treat Romo’s contract, which according to owner and general manager Jerry Jones, could very well be ‘hands off’ over the course of this offseason anyway, the time is there to groom Petty and let him prepare for a future as Dallas’ starting quarterback.
Unless you see Romo remaining in his current starting role beyond the age of 38 years old, now is the time to start prepping a future successor. With his physical condition being what it is, I’d be surprised to see Romo attending training camp beyond 2017 – this might be stretching it.
Petty needed just three years to get set to line up under center at Baylor. Assuming that his hypothetical redshirt season in Dallas was next season, it would put him on pace to take over leading up to that ’18 season in which, right now anyway, it seems as though the Cowboys would be ready to move on unless something very special and/or out of the ordinary was happening in Dallas.
There’s a big difference in how Hall of Fame head coach Tom Landry prepared for the end of the Roger Staubach era and the way Jones prepared for the age of Troy Aikman to expire.
One had a backup that learned one of the most complex offensive systems in the NFL for years as a backup in Danny White. The result was three consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances in those years immediately following two-time Super Bowl winner Staubach – and five time participant in that game.
The other really had nobody and had to reach for a quarterback out of the University of Georgia in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. Quincy Carter might not have even remained the starting quarterback had he returned for his final season with the Bulldogs in Athens.
By 2004 Carter was gone.
Petty is as good of a candidate as any other that’s likely to be available to Dallas this offseason, and he does throw a gorgeous deep ball even if his intermediate passes might need some fine tuning at the next level.
Obviously the Cowboys scouting department might very well have a different take on things once the ’15 player selection meeting begins, but the future for America’s Team is now, and in more ways than just one.
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