Sports Outside the Beltway

Cowboys Looking at Detroit QB Joey Harrington

Mickey Spagnola reports that the Cowboys are among seven teams looking at Lions QB Joey Harrington, whose sporadic play has caused Detroit to give up on the former third overall pick in the 2002 draft.

The talks are incredibly preliminary:

[Cowboys owner/GM Jerry] Jones said he has only recently spoken with team vice president Stephen Jones about considering Harrington, and that the team’s pro scouting department did start evaluating him once it became apparent about 10 days ago the Lions were going to get rid of their primary starter the past four years one way or another. In fact, any speculation the Cowboys are seriously interested in Harrington would be premature since Jones said, “But I really haven’t talked to [head coach] Bill [Parcells] about it.”

Moreover, this appears to be mere due dilligence on a tremendous athlete at the most important position in the game who might be had for a bargain basement price. It is not even a reflection on the three QBs currently on the Dallas roster.

This also does not mean the Cowboys are ready to throw in the towel on two-year veteran Drew Henson, who currently is NFL in Europe playing for the Rhein Fire. Henson’s club is 2-0, and his performance this past weekend was much improved over his NFL Europe opener. Jones said he hasn’t even so much as looked at tape of Henson’s performances or read any of the scouting reports from the first two games. But, according to Jones, this should not be viewed as some European vacation for Henson, heading into his third season with the Cowboys. “Certainly it is important, very important, a significant thing,” Jones said of Henson’s performance this spring overseas. “That’s the process. It’s very meaningful what Drew’s doing, relative to anything we might think about any quarterback.”

And maybe most importantly, don’t for a minute think Jones is thinking about replacing Drew Bledsoe with Harrington as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback in 2006. On the contrary. “But let me be real clear about anything we’re doing, it does not in anyway mean to me that we are looking at anything other than Drew Bledsoe as our starter,” Jones said. “This is a look to the future here with any interest you might have. “I don’t want to come across as sitting here looking at anything other than Drew Bledsoe (as the Cowboys starter.)”


Jones does not in anyway want to immediately sign Harrington, even as a backup since the move would cut the developing legs out from under Henson in Europe. Or possibly even backup Tony Romo, since there is a feeling within the organization that the Cowboys might have something special in him, even though the three-year veteran has done nothing more than take a knee twice in regular-season games during his career. In fact, there are some who think Romo, if handled properly, could develop into the team’s future starting quarterback if the Cowboys can remain patient with the development of the undrafted player out of Eastern Illinois. Sort of like their version of Jake Delhomme, who stepped up to prominence after signing a free-agent deal with Carolina after all those years in New Orleans.

But, again, we’re talking about quarterback, the premier position not only in football but all sports.

[A]s has been the case since Troy Aikman eventually retired after the 2000 season, the Cowboys can leave no stone unturned searching for the next franchise quarterback. And while Bledsoe is expected to be the starter this year, and possibly even next, Jones knows a team never can have too many good quarterbacks on the roster or future options if that total equals three.

And as Jones did say with the draft now a month away, “Tony and everybody knows we’ll be looking at a young quarterback, whether it be late in the draft . . . or if something crazy happens, it may be early in the draft, who knows.”

Which obviously led to a natural question: What would the Cowboys do if Texas quarterback Vince Young happened to slide all the way to their 18th spot in the first round? “Be real interesting, wouldn’t it?” Jones said, and not totally teasing.

Yes it would be, and it’s always interesting when the Cowboys throw their hat in a quarterback ring.

Indeed it would. The team is positioned to make a serious run for the Super Bowl this year and would obviously prefer to take a player in the first round who could start right away. Still, the Cowboys would almost have to take a flyer on Young if he fell that low, unlikely as it is. The opportunity to grab a franchise quarterback is just too rare to pass up.

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