Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has been declared "day to day" by head coach Jason Garrett with a reported disc problem in his back. As those who have been following the team during Garrett's tenure know, that translates to "there is approximately a snowball's chance in Hades he might still play".
This leaves the Cowboys short a backup quarterback. They will need to get someone signed quickly, they no longer carry a quarterback on the practice squad since Alex Tanney was signed from there by the Cleveland Browns. This means they have no one to take the snaps with the scout team. In the past, they could have used Dwayne Harris to simulate the quarterback, especially for a team that uses some read option, as the Philadelphia Eagles do, but he is also recovering from injury. It does not seem wise to subject him to the extra risk when the team needs him so badly to return kicks.
The Cowboys are already working on the problem.
Despite some fairly wild names being thrown around out there (Brett Favre, Vince Young and Tim Tebow have all been championed by some in the Twitterverse), it looks like the team is trying to find someone with NFL experience that will not be a major distraction.
David Carr came out of Fresno State with a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award and the expansion Houston Texans made him the first pick of the 2002 draft. Unfortunately, they did not provide him with anything resembling an NFL-caliber offensive line, and he set a league record for times sacked his rookie year, getting taken down 76 times. Ironically, the highlight of his rookie season was beating the Cowboys in his first professional start. He never played on a team that could effectively protect him or run the ball, and the Texans parted ways with him when they acquired Matt Schaub in 2007. Carr still put up some good numbers, but he never had any real hope of carrying the team by himself. Since leaving Houston, he has spent time with the Carolina Panthers, the San Francisco 49ers, and two stints with the New York Giants, which did get him a Super Bowl ring. He has been out of the league since the Giants waived him before the start of this season. His totals for his career are 2,264 attempts, 1,351 completions, 14,433 yards, 65 touchdowns and 71 interceptions. The last on-field action he saw was during the 2010 season.
John Skelton entered the league through a much more low-profile route, getting drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. He was an FCS standout at Fordham. Like Carr, one of the highlights of his rookie season was a victory over the Cowboys. He was in and out of the starting job for Arizona through the 2012 season, fighting ankle injuries as well as the general inconsistent play of the Cardinals. Appearing in 20 games, he had 320 completions on 602 attempts for 3,707 yards, 15 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. He had brief stints in 2013 as a backup with the Cincinnati Bengals, the 49ers, and the Tennessee Titans, with no action seen on the field.
Tyler Thigpen is a product of an even lesser known program, Coastal Carolina, and was not drafted until the seventh round in 2007, by the Minnesota Vikings. However, the Vikings tried to sneak him onto their practice squad, and the Kansas City Chiefs claimed him off waivers instead. In 2008, he became the starter in KC through attrition, but the team fared poorly with him as quarterback, going 1-10 with him running the offense. His stats for seven seasons, including post-Chiefs stops with the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, are 509 attempts and 275 completions for 3,222 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He also played in some unorthodox offenses, working out of the spread offense and the pistol in Kansas City five years before they became trends in the NFL. He also saw action in the wildcat, and has scored touchdowns passing, catching, and rushing.
Those are the names expected to get a look so far, although more could be added. The Cowboys appear to want players with some kind of starting experience. As always, we will keep you posted.