Cowboys add QB Weeden to mix with Romo, Orton

By SCHUYLER DIXON - AP Sports Writer
    2014-03-17 17:04

The Dallas Cowboys have three quarterbacks with starting experience in the NFL - at least for now.

The Cowboys added free agent Brandon Weeden on a two-year contract Monday even though they expect Kyle Orton to return behind Tony Romo next season.

There have been reports Orton might not come back for a third season as Romo's backup, but the team is expecting Orton to be on hand. Dallas carried two quarterbacks late last season after Alex Tanney was claimed off the practice squad by Cleveland, where Weeden had fallen out of favor.

Weeden was a first-round pick by the Browns in 2012 and had a promising rookie season, when he passed for 3,385 yards and won five starts. However, he started poorly in 2013, got benched, lost his confidence and never recovered.

He also became a target of abuse by Cleveland fans, who grew tired of him forcing passes and making bad decisions. He was released last week.

At 30, Weeden is much older than a typical third-year NFL player because he played professional baseball for five years before finishing his college career. He started his baseball career with the Yankees' organization.

The Browns picked Weeden 22nd overall after two strong seasons as the starter at Oklahoma State, also the college home of Dallas Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant. Weeden had Oklahoma State in contention for the 2011 national championship game before settling for the school's first BCS bowl bid, a 41-38 victory over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.

Orton made his only start for Dallas in the season finale against Philadelphia last year with a playoff berth on the line. Romo injured his back a week earlier against Washington and had surgery two days before the Cowboys lost to the Eagles, their third straight loss in a finale with the NFC East title at stake.

Orton played well in the 24-22 loss to Philadelphia, but threw a clinching interception in the final two minutes with a chance to lead a winning drive.

Romo has 108 career starts to 70 for Orton and 20 for Weeden.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL


Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

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