The Dallas Cowboys are stuck between a rock and a hard place to say the least. After sustaining an awkward hit from Buccaneers defensive end Shaq Barrett, quarterback Dak Prescott was diagnosed with a fractured thumb in his throwing hand, an injury that will require surgery. Originally set to be out for six to eight weeks, Jerry Jones projects he could be back as soon as Week Five. While the Cowboys do have backup Cooper Rush and former third-round rookie Will Grier on their roster, both are serviceable at best, and with upcoming games against two fierce division rivals and both of last year’s Super Bowl teams, may not be enough to keep the team’s once-promising season afloat. The great thing is, they don’t have to keep Cooper Rush at quarterback if they can score a quarterback in a trade or sign a free agent, and it just so happens that the market is packed with competent replacements with the experience and talent they need to stay competitive. The Cowboys are currently last in betting odds to win the NFC East, but any of these five available options at quarterback that could boost their chances and save their season.
Cam Newton: Superman in Dallas?
Former MVP and current free agent Cam Newton could be the perfect replacement for Dallas until Dak’s return. The now thirty-three year old veteran started in eight games for the Carolina Panthers last year, but his production was held back by the faults of his own environment. While coming back to Carolina was welcomed by fans, it was his weapons and team that didn’t mesh. Newton threw for a career-low 54.8% completion percentage with only four passing touchdowns and five interceptions, but still rushed for five touchdowns in his eight games played. Cam Newton may not be the most enticing option, but with the offensive line combined with a competent and star-studded defense, an ex-MVP that can run may be the right fit. We saw what Geno Smith did on Monday Night Football in Week One both on the ground and in the air for one of the most solid games of his career, so why shut the door on Cam Newton’s career? Looking further back to 2020, Newton played and started in fifteen games for the New England Patriots, missing one game due to COVID-19. In that season Newton brought led the Patriots to a 7-9 record while throwing for 2,600 yards, 8 passing touchdowns, and ten interceptions as well as the most rushing touchdowns he’s had since his rookie campaign. Only four years ago ‘Superman’ was throwing for over three thousand yards, twenty-plus passing touchdowns and rushing at an elite level, and the last time he was the starting quarterback for an NFC team on the East Coast, they were a perennial playoff contender. Newton would be a valuable roster stash even after Dak’s return, with his skillset as a rushing QB making him a possibly underrated offensive weapon. Cam Newton may not be back like he once was in Carolina, but Dallas may prove to be his new proving ground.
Jimmy Garoppolo: Drew Bledsoe 2.0
Jimmy Garopollo has been one of the most confusing yet productive sagas in NFL history. From backing up Tom Brady and having as many rings as both of the Manning’s to starting in a Super Bowl against Patrick Mahomes, this man has seen it all. Jimmy is probably the best option from a numbers standpoint, being the most reliable on this list, but also the hardest to acquire. San Francisco is coming off of a loss to the Bears and probably don’t want to fully hand the keys to Trey Lance just yet. Last season, Jimmy Garoppolo threw for nearly four-thousand yards with twenty passing touchdowns and twelve interceptions, and got his 49ers squad all the way to the NFC Championship. If Dak is out for only four weeks, this trade won’t happen; but if Dak is out for longer than Jerry Jones predicts, another one of Tom Brady’s backups may get the chance to start in Dallas.
Will Grier: From QB3 to QB1?
Probably the most likely to actually take the field in a game for Dallas over Cooper Rush is Will Grier. If you are Dallas and you are sticking with Cooper Rush, Grier may not be the worst option to give some snaps to. Will has only played in two NFL games, going 28-for-52 passing, zero touchdowns and four interceptions in late 2019. While this could easily be a reason to not give Will a chance, this was also three years ago on a 5-11 Panthers team begging to just end the season. Will Grier and Cooper Rush are only a year apart in age and very close in experience, so giving the third string quarterback some minutes may not be the worst idea if you are the Dallas Cowboys. When there is a Will, there is a way, and Will Grier is looking to make his way into a Dallas Cowboys game.
Taylor Heinicke: The Legend Grows
Taylor Heinicke is known for his playoff heroics against Tampa Bay, and being the man in Washington before Carson Wentz came into town. Heinicke threw for 3,419 yards last season while also mustering up twenty passing touchdowns. While his 85.9 quarterback rating last season wasn’t very pleasant, we’ve seen flashes of what he can do, even while playing on an inconsistent Commanders team. With a team set up much better than Washington and Carolina were for his career, Dallas could be the consistency Heinicke has been looking for. Throwing to CeeDee Lamb, Turpin, Gallup and handing the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott compared to Cameron Sims, Logan Thomas and McKissic could be the jump in weapons he needs. Taylor Heinicke has only shown the bare minimum of what he can do and was a trusted starting quarterback last year, the hardest part would be actually pulling off the trade itself. Trades between teams are rare to say the least, but they have worked out for the Cowboys in past years. The last trade between Dallas and an NFC East team was moving back in the 2021 NFL Draft from pick ten to twelve, letting the Eagles draft Devonta Smith, and giving them the chance to draft Micah Parsons; a trade that worked well for Dallas. Cooper Rush may put up average numbers in his short stint in Dallas, but trying out a Heinicke trade would most likely bode well for Dallas, now giving them a QB room of Cooper Rush, Will Grier, Taylor Heinicke and Dak Prescott once he gets back.
Colin Kaepernick: The Greatest Comeback Story in NFL History?
Kaepernick is easily the longest shot on the list, but possibly the most intriguing. If Dak is out longer than Jerry Jones says, this may be the best move for Dallas. A season with Cooper Rush under center doesn’t bode well in their division especially, so why not give Kaepernick a try? While the thirty-four year old quarterback hasn’t played football since January 1st, 2017, the upside to Kaep outweighs the downside. If Colin Kaepernick can come anywhere close to his 2016 season stats, it’d be an upgrade from Cooper Rush. In that season, he played in eleven games, only going 1-11 to no fault of his own. He threw for 2,241 yards, sixteen passing touchdowns, only four interceptions as well as nearly five-hundred yards rushing with two touchdowns. Another huge reason to bring Colin would be the same reason a team signs Johnny Manziel, uproar. Whether fans love him or hate him, Colin Kaepernick’s comeback to the NFL may be the most watched game of the entire season. Will he stand for the National Anthem? How will he play? How will Dallas react to him? All huge reasons to watch. Not to mention a Colin Kaepernick jersey, even if he plays one singular snap, would probably be the most bought jersey in the NFL that week. The only downside to signing Kaepernick would be losing fans, which if he can win games will only happen at a minimal rate. If he does end up being god awful, worst comes to worst you bench or cut him and keep Rush and Grier as your quarterbacks. To many, seeing a Texas team sign Colin Kaepernick would be a shame to the franchise, but if it keeps them in football games rather than being blown out, he may just shock the world.
Could you see any of these five quarterbacks working out in Dallas? What moves would you make if you were Jerry Jones? Comment down below and let us know!