In an ugly defeat at the hands of the Washington Football Team, the Dallas Cowboys lost much more than just another game. After Dak Prescott’s heartbreaking injury thrust former Bengals starter Andy Dalton into the spotlight, his time at the helm could not have gone any worse.
His first start was an embarrassing 38-10 loss on Monday night to the Arizona Cardinals, then he was knocked out of this Sunday’s contest with an egregious and illegal hit by Jon Bostic.
He was immediately declared out with a concussion, and due to the severity of the hit, it is unclear how many weeks Dalton will miss from the upcoming slate. His backup that replaced him was Ben DiNucci, drafted in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of James Madison University, and he is almost certainly not going to be the starter moving forward.
Whether through a trade or a free agent signing, who might the Cowboys turn to that might help salvage their season? Here are four options.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
Fitzmagic was shockingly benched this week in favor of 2020 fifth overall pick, Tua Tagovailoa, after a surprisingly decent start to the season and a 3-3 team record.
Through six games, the Harvard alum threw for 1,535 yards and 70.1% accuracy, 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions, and rushing for an additional 135 yards and two scores. He was one of the highest rated QB’s in the league in total QBR and has outperformed his expectations, which he may be able to parlay into a trade request to the Cowboys.
He has always been a strong mentor to young quarterbacks and understands his role as a stopgap starter, but was understandably upset about his demotion. He would be an excellent fit in Dallas, which features a strong group of pass catchers and a great running back in Ezekiel Elliott.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Cowboys will intentionally tank the rest of this season, but Fitzpatrick could easily help them contend for the NFC East crown.
Josh Rosen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rosen was the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, famously picked ahead of Lamar Jackson and then immediately getting replaced by Kyler Murray the following year. His career has had about as miserable of a start as you could imagine, being thrown into the fire of a terrible Arizona Cardinals team and then traded to a tanking Miami Dolphins squad.
He was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick then cut and signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad, meaning that he is available to be signed by any team.
His stats are not eye-popping by any means, but he is a young quarterback who is currently learning from Tom Brady and has never really had a strong supporting cast with which to prove himself.
In 16 career starts, Rosen has 54.8% accuracy, 2,845 yards, 12 touchdowns to 19 interceptions, and a 3-13 record. Obviously, he is not the person to lead the Cowboys to the promised land, but he would at least provide depth to the quarterback room should Dalton be forced to miss an extended period of time.
He could be signed to a near-minimum contract, and this Cowboys team couldn’t possibly get much worse with DiNucci currently in the spotlight.
Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts
After multiple years as a starter for the Indianapolis Colts, Brissett has proven that he is roughly a middle of the pack player who is not capable of substantially escalating his team’s play.
Drafted originally by the New England Patriots, he was traded to the Colts to be the backup to Andrew Luck, but was often thrust into the starting role when Luck’s injury woes continued to worsen. He was recently replaced this season when the Colts signed Philip Rivers, though he is currently being paid like a mid-level starting quarterback.
In 32 career starts and 40 overall games, Brissett has recorded a 12-20 record with 59.9% passing, 31 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, and 6,459 yards. His ball security was always one of his strong suits, which the Cowboys will desperately need after a ridiculous number of fumbles and total turnovers from the entire team this season.
Brissett also adds value as a rusher and could fill in as a replacement-level Dak Prescott, showcased by his career rushing totals of 564 yards and nine touchdowns. He might cost the Cowboys a mid-level draft pick, but would be a tremendous boost and wouldn’t change the original playbook.
Colin Kaepernick, Free Agent
No free agent quarterback list is complete without mentioning the most controversial player of the past decade, Colin Kaepernick. We all know his story, and he even auditioned for a number of NFL teams this past offseason, but no one truly expected him to be signed to an active NFL roster.
However, he couldn’t possibly be worse than how Dalton or DiNucci have played this season, could he? He was once a starter in the Super Bowl and one of the most dynamic rushing quarterbacks in league history, still holding the record for quarterback rushing yards in a postseason game.
However, it must be understood that he significantly fell off towards the latter half of his playing career, though admittedly he was playing for a very poor performing San Francisco 49ers team.
In his final two seasons, in which he bounced in and out of the starting role along with Blaine Gabbert, he played in 21 games and only won three of them. He passed at 59.1%, threw for less than 185 yards per game, and threw 22 touchdown passes to nine interceptions.
Looking at his career as a whole, he totaled more than 12,500 passing yards, 72 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions, and rushed for 2,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. This is the most unlikely of the four players on this list to be signed, but he might be a perfect fit to replace Dak Prescott and lead the team to a modest record.
Jerry Jones would not be the one to make this move, but it is worth wondering if you would rather watch Kaepernick or Ben DiNucci take the field next Sunday for the Cowboys.