Eight in the Box: Quarterback situations

March, 1, 2013
3/01/13
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Welcome to Eight in the Box, an NFL Nation feature that will appear each Friday during the offseason. This week’s topic: How each NFC East team needs to address the quarterback position.

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys would like to sign starting quarterback Tony Romo to a long-term contract extension. Romo's deal expires at the end of 2013, and the Cowboys know there won't be any quarterbacks on next offseason's market who are as good as Romo is. They also would benefit from reducing his 2013 salary-cap number (about $16.8 million), and an extension beyond this year would allow them to do that by spreading signing bonus money out over future seasons. Romo will be 33 in April, and the backup quarterback is Kyle Orton, who's not a long-term solution. So there is a chance the Cowboys could try to find a quarterback in the middle rounds of the draft and start grooming him.

New York Giants: The Giants have one of the most stable quarterback situations in the entire league, as Eli Manning has not missed a game since becoming the starter during his 2004 rookie season. The Giants' plan for each season is founded in large part on Manning's durability and reliability. If he were to get hurt, they'd be more or less lost. Their preferred backup, David Carr, is an unrestricted free agent, and right now the only other quarterback on the roster is Curtis Painter (who coincidentally used to back up Manning's brother in Indianapolis). The Giants could stand to improve their backup quarterback situation, but unlike the Cowboys, they don't like to spend to do so.

Philadelphia Eagles: On the other end of the spectrum, once they add Arena Leaguer G.J. Kinne to the mix as they're reported to be doing, the Eagles will have five quarterbacks on their roster. The favorite to start is Michael Vick, though second-year man Nick Foles and career backup Dennis Dixon could factor into a training-camp competition. (Trent Edwards is likely the odd man out.) If Vick is to be the starter, the backup quarterback position becomes very important, as Vick obviously has a history of injuries. So the Eagles must figure out whether Foles or Dixon (or I guess Kinne) is the best option. The Eagles also could draft a quarterback with the No. 4 pick in April if they fall in love with someone like Geno Smith or Matt Barkley. New coach Chip Kelly is keeping his options open, which is a smart way to go in a market that presents him with few outstanding options.

Washington Redskins: All of the focus in Washington is on the recovery of starter Robert Griffin III from reconstructive knee surgery. In spite of his new adidas ad campaign that proclaims him "All in for Week 1," there is no way to project whether Griffin will be ready for the start of the season. If he's not, the starter's role will fall to Kirk Cousins, last year's fourth-round pick, who relieved Griffin three times and started one game for the Redskins in 2012. Look for Mike Shanahan to add a quarterback or two to the bench mix before training camp and the preseason arrive, as the Redskins will need depth while Griffin heals. Veteran Rex Grossman is someone the Redskins like having around and could factor into that depth mix if he doesn't find work somewhere else.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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