After the 2020 season, the Cowboys organization has to be keenly aware of the value of a backup quarterback. Of course, when your primary QB and your backup QB both miss time with injury, it almost feels like there is nothing you can do. With Dak Prescott back and looking healthy in OTAs, the hope is 2021 will be like all of his other seasons before 2020, a full slate of games with minimal injury issues and no absences.
Still, this is the NFL and injuries come with the territory. If your primary QB goes down for the year, that is an issue that is hard to solve, but what you can plan for is a scenario where your primary misses a few games. That’s the real value of a backup QB; a guy that can keep the ship afloat for a few games until QB1 returns.
Right now, for the Cowboys, that backup QB appears to be Garrett Gilbert. In the recent OTAs, he was the guy running the show when the Cowboys held Prescott out of certain drills in a precautionary move.
Gilbert was signed in the middle of last season after bouncing around with different teams and different leagues, and found himself thrust into a starter’s role after just three weeks with the team.
“You get used to some sorts of those things – getting reps when you’re not used to it, like my time in Cleveland and even prior to that,” Gilbert said. “But to be here for three weeks and go start a game, it’s definitely up there as far as one of the crazier things that I’ve dealt with.”
Crazy or not, Gilbert put up a good account of himself in that game as he almost led the Cowboys to a win over the then-undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. His stats weren’t crazy in that game, but his poise and calmness were impressive for a guy who had so little experience under his belt.
In a quarterback room that includes Prescott, Cooper Rush, and Ben DiNucci, Gilbert can certainly lay claim to being the second-best quarterback. And that’s his goal right now, to remain the primary backup.
“Obviously, yes that is my goal, is to win the No. 2 job here,” Gilbert said. “But again, I think the best way to go about that is by just worrying about the things I can control – worry about having a good practice, worry about getting my feet right, worry about the things that are going to help me get better.”
The Cowboys and head coach Mike McCarthy have made it known that they could be in the market for a different number two. They previously brought in Jeff Driskell for a visit, and then followed that up with Brett Hundley. Driskell signed with the Texans, Hundley remains unsigned.
The QB free agent market is pretty slim right now. Guys like Brett Hundley, Robert Griffin III, Nick Mullens and Matt Barkley are available. The Cowboys might be waiting until later in the offseason when a veteran QB or two could be cut from other teams for various reasons. Or McCarthy might have decided Gilbert is his best option.
What’s your take, BTB? Should the Cowboys ride with Gilbert, or should they call in some help?