The Dallas Cowboys added a fourth quarterback to the off-season roster on Thursday by claiming Rudy Carpenter off waivers after he was waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Arizona State product will begin his second tenure with the Cowboys, with whom he signed as an undrafted rookie in 2009. Carpenter didn’t make it through the preseason cuts and eventually wound up in Tampa Bay, where he served as a reserve quarterback from 2009-’11.
Carpenter has never thrown a pass in the NFL, but Dallas claimed him most likely to compete with Stephen McGee for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. Since being drafted by Dallas in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft, McGee has only started one game, a meaningless contest against the Eagles in the 2010 regular season finale. Both players will have an equal shot to win that third spot behind Tony Romo and Kyle Orton and McGee likely won’t be kept if he loses the contest.
McGee was the draft pick in 2009 while Carpenter was the undrafted signee, but the patience of the Cowboys’ coaching staff for the former Texas A&M Aggies quarterback to prove himself as a viable backup is obviously growing thin. Not only was Carpenter claimed off waivers to compete, but Orton was quickly signed as a free agent after Jon Kitna retired, proving Dallas wasn’t confident in McGee as the primary backup for Romo.
The battle between Carpenter and McGee isn’t extremely important to the Cowboys for two reasons:
First, the Cowboys recently stated Romo will be signed to a contract extension soon and he’ll be a Cowboy for “a long, long time.”
Second, Dallas signed Orton to a healthy, three-year, $10.5 million contract in March, proving the Cowboys are committed to him as the primary backup quarterback. It also means Dallas has confidence in Orton to play well if needed like Kitna did in 2010 when Romo missed the second half of the season with a broken collarbone.
So in conclusion, it’s crunch time for McGee. The preseason usually doesn’t mean much, but this year’s exhibition games will be crucial for McGee as they will decide his fate with America’s Team.