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Cowboys Free Agent Big Board: Part 2 – Evaluating The Talent, Quarterback Edition

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The free agent big board is underway and it’s now time to take a look at the talent at each position. We start with the quarterback options.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I am in the process of constructing a Free Agent Big Board. In order to put together the board, I will be ranking players based on the collective scores from three categories:

  1. Position Need
  2. Talent
  3. Age

In the first part of this series, I took a close look at the Cowboys roster to evaluate the needs this team has as it prepares to revamp for the 2016 season. Each need was given a score, with the highest score indicating the biggest need. Here are the results from that evaluation:

The next step is to take a look at the talent that is available on the free agent market to see what kind of options might be available when the Cowboys go shopping.

We start with the QB position.

It's no secret the Cowboys have a big need to find a quality backup quarterback this offseason. But how the team goes about addressing the issue will be an intriguing topic for us fans to talk about over the next few months. When it comes to free agency, what type of choices do they have? Whenever I start trying to predict the future, I always like to take a look at the past to see if there are any smoking guns that could make my guess work easier. Here is a look at the top 20 ranked free agent QBs for last season (graded out by Walter Football), how much they signed for, and their QB rating for 2015. Those with N/A either didn't play or only threw a few passes.

The Buffalo Bills hit the jackpot last offseason when it comes to selecting the right free agent quarterback to sign. Tyrod Taylor backed up Joe Flacco in Baltimore for four seasons, but only threw 35 passes. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was not impressed with Taylor's development so he let him hit the free agent market. The Bills brought him to compete with E.J. Manuel and Matt Cassel, but Taylor quickly emerged as their go-to guy as he started 14 games for Buffalo.

Similarly, Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown were signed to compete for starting jobs. They went to teams that didn't have strong starting quarterbacks so it wasn't too difficult for them to win over the starting gig.

While none of the current free agents are going to challenge Tony Romo for his starting spot, it would be nice if the Cowboys could land someone who has starting QB caliber skills.

Here are the 2016 free agent quarterbacks (also courtesy of Walter Football):

This year's class of free agents has some real good players at the top. Kirk Cousins and Brock Osweiler had good seasons last year and should demand a hefty price for their services going forward. With Tony Romo under contract, the high price free agent QBs will not be in play for the Cowboys. The team will have to look at the next tier of passers.

Case Keenum

The Los Angeles Rams will have a tough decision to make regarding how they will handle their QB situation. They signed Nick Foles to a 2-year/$24.5 million deal at the beginning of last season. But Foles was benched in November as Keenum took over the starting job. Keenum completed 60% of his passes, throwing 4 TDs and only 1 INT. He didn't have a lot of yards in the air as the Rams offense relied heavily on the legs of rookie running back Todd Gurley.

Keenum is 28 years old and his play down the stretch of last season would be a welcoming sight for Cowboys fans. He should be one of the more expensive backups, but the Cowboys can't afford to get too cheap in this department.

Drew Stanton

Stanton was the Detroit Lions second round pick in 2007. When Carson Palmer went down to injury in 2014, Stanton stepped in and helped Arizona go 6-3 in Palmer's absent. He's got good size at 6'3" and 243 pounds. Although his skills don't jump out at you, he's shown the ability to help keep his teams head above water. With the Cowboys titanic failure at the position last year, that's something.

"Stanton isn't exactly a big-name free agent, but he is a proven backup who can go out and win games when the starter is out. He's not a former star who's outlived his welcome somewhere else or has substance abuse issues. He is highly regarded by his current team so it won't be cheap getting him to Dallas, but I think that serves the Cowboys right for trying to skimp on the position for the last two years." - OCC

If we're grading by celebration dances, Stanton is the clear front-runner.

Chase Daniel

If Daniel could do for Dallas what he's been doing his entire six-year career in the league, fans would be ecstatic. He's got one thing going for him that you love in a backup quarterback - he hardly ever plays.  Daniel played three seasons behind Drew Brees, followed by three more seasons behind Alex Smith. In limited action, he's looked good though. He's completed 50 of his 77 career passes (64%). He's only had one NFL start when Alex Smith lacerated his spleen in 2014. With such limited action on the field, he's a little bit of an unknown. What is known though is that teams keep him around as he's now had two, three-year stints in his career. And he's been paid well for his services as he's played out his contract, including a nice $3.75 million base salary in 2015. The Chiefs definitely like having him around.

He got a Super Bowl ring in New Orleans and then he went to Kansas City to backup a QB who had a history of getting hurt. But Alex Smith's been able to stay healthy since joining the Chiefs and Daniel hasn't gotten a chance to strut his stuff. While he'd love to start somewhere, Dallas should provide an appealing backup opportunity. Great offensive line, nice receiving targets, and an aging starting quarterback - what's not to like about that situation?

"Chase is not going to set the world on fire as the backup. That would not be his job. What he brings is the face that he has been a winner in every opportunity that he has been given.  He can get in there and grind it out for you and find a way to win. That is what you need in a backup passer." - Dawn Macelli

And Michael Sisemore already has Chase on his free agent wishlist.

Colt McCoy

The Washington Redskins are going to switch out one high priced quarterback for another when they say goodbye to Robert Griffin III and replace him on the payroll with Cousins. RG3 is not officially a free agent, but he'll become one as Washington has no desire to give him his $16 million base salary on his 2016 contract. And while RG3's name has been tied with the Cowboys recently, it is another Redskins QB who could be an interesting signing.

"He's an intelligent and capable back-up that knows his strengths and weaknesses. He's also looked good when he's been given the opportunity. The free agent QB market is very slim, but he would be on my short list." - Michael Sisemore

What free agent quarterbacks are most intriguing to you?