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Visit signals Cowboys eyeing Jeff Driskel to be backup quarterback answer

QB Jeff Driskel visited the Dallas Cowboys on Friday to give indication that the team is on the lookout for competition to handle backup duties behind Dak Prescott.
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel (9) looks to throw against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

DALLAS — The draft has now passed, undrafted free agents have been signed, and a few veteran players have been released as the Dallas Cowboys make their way towards their 90-man summer roster. 

The process to get to this point is never easy and the decisions before the season begins to figure out their initial 53-man roster is always a difficult task.

Lost in the post-draft shuffle is the knowledge that the Cowboys are kicking around the idea of adding another backup quarterback option. With Andy Dalton moving on to the Chicago Bears earlier in the offseason, Dallas is in the market for a veteran to compete with Garrett Gilbert behind starter Dak Prescott. 

The thought coalesced with an invite for former Denver Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel to meet with the club.

Driskel, although having a putrid 1-8 record as a starting QB, has more experience than any of the current Cowboys’ QBs on the depth chart combined. The 28-year-old journeyman quarterback would be an upgrade and offer a veteran presence that’s needed.

Likewise, Dalton was a great fit with the Cowboys last season. He was from Texas, joined the team on a fair contract for one season, and got to showcase that he was still capable of playing good football when Prescott was injured. Currently, the team doesn’t have that type of backup and Driskel might be the best option that the team can afford.

The primary backup right now is Gilbert, and although he had a respectable showing in his only start against the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, the former SMU standout doesn’t have much experience in the NFL. He’s played in just seven games, starting only one, and thrown for just one touchdown. 

Still, Gilbert showed enough against the Steelers to get another chance with the Cowboys, he just shouldn’t be the top option behind Prescott without competition.

Dallas also brought back Cooper Rush and have last year’s seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci returning. Rush hasn’t shown much since he’s entered the league and DiNucci needs major improvement after showing he was nowhere near ready during his two appearances as a rookie.

None of these options inspire confidence. Prescott was an ironman before getting hurt last season and although the team expects him to return as a superhero again, the Cowboys need to be realistic. Prescott’s injury was a serious one and they need a better protection plan in case Prescott has any issues returning to full health, or if he gets hurt again.

Driskel, despite playing for bad teams in Cincinnati, Detroit, and Denver during his career, does have a positive touchdown to interception ratio of 13-8 and offers solid mobility, rushing for over 300 yards and three scores during his three years in the league. 

This is the position that the Cowboys have put themselves in, however. After not giving the backup job much thought before bringing in Dalton, the club is once again in need of a backup quarterback who has adequate NFL playing experience because Prescott now represents a risk. 

Without Driskel, the Cowboys would be one of the more ill-prepared teams in the league at QB if their starter got hurt. Things aligned as well as it could last year with Dallas making the most of the situation when they lost Prescott for the season after Week 5. With a quarterback coming back from a major injury, the backup job is in need of competition.

The Cowboys don’t seem to be willing to add a more expensive option to back up Prescott, so Driskel would help. It makes sense that Dallas is looking into a veteran quarterback and Driskel would be an upgrade even if he’s not of the caliber of Dalton.

Driskel feels like the best option the Cowboys are currently willing to explore. If the team just wants a more experienced backup, signing Driskel wouldn’t hurt because heading into the season without a veteran behind Prescott could lead to disaster.

Would you be satisfied with Jeff Driskel behind Dak Prescott on the Cowboys depth chart at quarterback? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.