Sports Outside the Beltway

Cowboys Sign QB Brad Johnson to Three-Year Deal

The Dallas Cowboys have acquired journeyman Brad Johnson to fill their backup quarterback needs.

Brad Johnson signed a contract Monday night with the Dallas Cowboys, who wanted a veteran quarterback to team up with Tony Romo. Johnson’s agent, Phil Williams, said the quarterback got a three-year contract. Williams wouldn’t discuss financial details of the deal. Dallas officials said they didn’t plan an announcement Monday night regarding Johnson and didn’t confirm the signing. On their Web site, the Cowboys reported they were “close to adding” Johnson to the roster.

Unfortunately, while the content is often quite superb, is hamstrung by being the official organ for the team, so is almost invariably scooped on big stories.

The Cowboys last week released [Drew] Bledsoe, the first overall pick in the 1993 draft by New England. Bledsoe, due a $1 million roster bonus, would have made $4.5 million next season. He said he wasn’t interested in being a backup.

Minnesota coach Brad Childress indicated at the end of last season that Johnson would be welcomed back in a mentoring role. But Johnson — who has a fierce competitive drive that belies his easygoing demeanor — said he still believes he can be a starter.

The Cowboys want Johnson to be a mentor to Romo, who didn’t take a snap in his first three seasons before taking over midway through last season. When Williams was asked what Johnson’s role in Dallas would be, he responded, “He just signed the contract” and wouldn’t elaborate.

Johnson started the first 14 games last year for the Vikings before rookie Tarvaris Jackson was the starter the final two of a 6-10 season. Johnson has started 122 of his 145 career games with Minnesota (1993-98, 2005-06), Washington (1999-2000) and Tampa Bay (2001-04).

“I’m sure they are going to get a good guy in there,” Romo said earlier Monday when asked about Johnson’s visit and the search for another quarterback. “You need two quarterbacks in this league these days.”

Indeed. Johnson is an excellent acquisition, presuming he’s willing to settle for the backup role if, as expected, Romo wins that job after camp. He’ll make a nice insurance policy.

Nick Eatman, writing for the aforementioned (which does now acknowledge the signing), adds,

While Romo had a costly dropped snap as the holder for a potential go-ahead field goal in the final minutes, the Cowboys have made it clear he will be their starting quarterback next season. So the addition of Johnson doesn’t appear to be for a competition with Romo.

In fact, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Monday that given Romo’s mere 10 starts, getting a veteran such as Johnson will have its advantages. “That seems to make sense,” Jones said. “That not only helps Tony, but if something did happen to Tony, I feel that would keep us competing at a high level. I think we’re leaning toward going to an older, experienced guy.”

Well, I don’t think you could go much older or experienced, unless you’re bringing Vinny Testaverde back.

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