NFL Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys’ Top 5 QB Options if Tony Romo is Done

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Top 5 QB Options for the Cowboys Without Tony Romo

kirk cousins
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

As rumors continue to surface and some of those begin to develop into reports, the possibility the Dallas Cowboys will have a new franchise quarterback in 2014 and beyond is slowly becoming reality. Sure, it’s still early, but the pessimistic attitude in the DFW suggests the polarizing era of Tony Romo is over as the Cowboys’ $100 million signal-caller underwent surgery on a herniated disc Friday morning, ending his 2013 NFL season, and possibly his career.

Now it’s going to be a while before we know if Romo will ever be able to play at a Pro Bowl level again, but the Cowboys better hope it’s before mid-March and especially before Mother’s Day because they’re going to need a new quarterback to start a new era in Dallas. Sounds scary if you’re a Cowboys fan, huh? You’re not so quick to bash No. 9 now, are you? Funny how that happens.

So as we look into the future that could very likely include the ‘Boys taking the field at Cowboys Stadium without Romo, the options for Jerry Jones’ team (notice how we didn’t say Jason Garrett’s team?) are somewhat limited, unless you give up on the current Dallas roster and start rebuilding with a 2014 NFL Draft pick. Needless to say, that’s not in the Cowboys’ best interest. Or is it? That depends on your point of view when you look at the other options in free agency and potential trades. And if you have the ignorant audacity to bring up Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, Josh McCown or Matt Flynn, you're not allowed to view the rest of this column. The same goes for Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford because if they failed with their former teams, Lord knows they ain’t going to make it in Dallas.

So now let’s take a look at the Cowboys’ top five options at quarterback for the 2014 season and beyond. But be prepared because this is a scary list.

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5. Matthew Stafford

matthew stafford
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys’ fifth-best option is surprising because Stafford signed a new five year, $75 million with the Lions just before this season. However, Detroit is already getting into that moronic mindset that he might be the problem after the team crumbled down the stretch. So on the one hand, he’d fit right in with the Cowboys’ crowd with that same ignorant, impatient outlook made popular by Jerry. But at the same time, he’s a proven gunslinger who’s only 25, so he’s certainly not a bad option. Oh, and he’s a Dallas native (Highland Park grad), so that helps.

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4. AJ McCarron

AJ McCarron
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The one thing the Cowboys haven’t had since Troy Aikman is a surefire winner under center. Until that bizarre ending to the Auburn-Alabama game, McCarron didn’t really understand that concept considering his team won back-to-back BCS National Championships and was on its way to a third until the surprise at the end of the in-state rivalry game. McCarron is extremely underrated as a passer and leader because people foolishly call him a game manager because they just want to find a flaw since he only has three losses in his college career. The Cowboys could use a guy like that under center, even if he will be a rookie in 2014.

P.S. Zach Mettenberger is the best quarterback available in next year’s draft, but with this torn ACL, his rookie year would be a lost cause and the Cowboys can’t afford to waste a year.

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3. Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Now you’re definitely scratching your head now, but think about it: The Cowboys don’t need to start over. Contrary to popular belief, Dallas has a roster that can win right now, but the core players can’t wait a few years to get a new passer established. Everyone knows changes are coming in Pittsburgh, so why not bring in a two-time Super Bowl winner to come in and not throw for 5,000 yards but do enough when needed to win while riding DeMarco Murray and a revamped running game with Lance Dunbar the rest of the time. It makes sense, as bad as you hate to admit it.

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2. Ryan Mallett

Ryan Mallett
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots would be stupid to trade Mallett with Tom Brady on the decline at age 36, but New England has put him on the trading block in each of the past two offseasons and with Bill Belichick’s crew starting to fall apart, trading Mallett could save the Patriots’ current quest for a fourth ring. For the Cowboys, a tall Texas native with a cannon attached to the right side of his body is just what the doctor ordered. He’s got a chip on his shoulder from his college days, which certainly isn’t a bad thing, especially if Jerry brings in the right coach to replace Jason Garrett. Who are we kidding? Don’t hold your breath on that.

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1. Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

This kid is the next big thing and although it may be a stretch for the Cowboys to make this trade with their bitter rivals, it would be the best move for them. Cousins could step in, take the offense by the reins and have it rolling at least as good as it did with Romo at the helm and then better about half a season in, if not before then. Bringing in Cousins via trade (Anthony Spencer, anyone?) would allow the Cowboys to continue their futile quest for a Super Bowl run with their current core group of players without missing a beat. It’ll never happen, but it should. What else is new, right? Thanks a lot, Jerry.