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What Are The Cowboys Long Term Quarterback Plans?

Tony Romo, duh.

Besides Romo, who might be having the best season of his six-year starting career, the Cowboys find themselves a bit short-handed at the quarterback position. Backup Jon Kitna, who has supported Romo for the last three years, was placed on Injured Reserve today due to a back problem that hasn't been able to correct itself. When he first suffered it in practice, word leaked that the injury wasn't career threatening; but at 38 years old you'd have to think this might signal the end of his Cowboys career. His contract runs for two more years at $3 million per, and those might be important salary cap dollars as the team attempts to fix the uber-apparent problems on their defense.

Stephen McGee is now a permanent number two on the depth chart, but many wonder if he is simply a stop gap measure, a one or two game fill-in candidate, or the long-term answer after Romo emerges on the far end of his prime years.

Prime years that should at least stretch another three to four seasons. At least.

McGee has shown flashes in his limited exposure to an NFL pass rush, winning his lone start. That was a Week 17 contest in 2010 against the Philadelphia Eagles B squad; the rival had already secured a playoff spot and was resting some key starters. Still, the Cowboys were playing with a Mash unit of their own, and McGee led a rousing comeback victory. Rousing unless you were rooting for Dallas' draft position; in which case the win was a hidden loss.

He also performed reasonably well in the Cowboys 2011 preseason games. Here's what I wrote about him after the first preseason game against Denver:

-- McGee is clutch, don't question it, just go with it. He led the Cowboys to touchdowns on his final three drives, bringing the team from behind each time. The first score, was the first he was afforded time in the pocket and he was finally able to start getting the ball to his recievers. It wasn't real pretty up until the middle of the third quarter. He followed it with the short catch and long run to Harris, and then led a final comeback drive that included two fourth down conversions. That included the game winning score with 15 seconds left on fourth and goal, after taking a bad sack on third down. McGee was seen telling Dwayne Harris he messed up, then found him in the end zone to bring the team within one. He then completed the two point conversion to Martin Rucker.

Of course, that would be McGee's best performance of the preseason. To further exemplify the long-term impact of the preseason, one only needs look at the other players mentioned in the blurb. Martin Rucker is long gone from the roster, and Dwayne Harris is relegated to the practice squad despite the myriad of wideout injuries this team has faced.

Dallas recently signed journeyman quarterback Chris Griesen to the practice squad; he should now serve as the team's number three.

Should the unthinkable happen, Dallas might be faced with seeing how McGee performs in games that matter, now that we know Kitna isn't returning. The former option quarterback from Texas A&M has the athletic ability the team wants behind center, but he is a three-year project as the team tries to improve his throwing mechanics and pocket saavy.

Dallas tried to sign Kyle Orton off waivers when he was released by Denver earlier this year. That may have been a move to block playoff competition Chicago, or it could speak to the confidence the team has in McGee. Either way, Dallas fans can only hope that McGee doesn't have to see any action until he gets another full offseason under his belt.

For more Cowboys coverage, head on over to Blogging The Boys, SB Nation's Dallas Cowboys blog.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.