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Early Lead

Troy Aikman believes the Cowboys will sign either Johnny Manziel or RGIII

By Cindy Boren

January 27, 2016 at 3:11 PM

Jerry Jones will come up with some sort of big signing. You just know it.

For 30 NFL teams, the offseason has officially begun and that means one important thing: What tricks does Jerry Jones have up his sleeve?

Well, Troy Aikman, the legendary former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Fox NFL commentator, thinks his old boss will make a big splash by signing a quarterback to serve as Tony Romo’s backup.

“I believe, as I sit here today,” Aikman told SI.com, “either Johnny Manziel or Robert Griffin III will be in Dallas as a backup.”

Jones coveted Manziel when the team had the 16th overall pick in 2014, but cooler heads prevailed and the team drafted offensive lineman Zack Martin. Last month, it sounded like he was doing a bit of second-guessing about that draft pick.

“The bottom line is, we should’ve been thinking — that’s my job really, if it’s anybody’s job. I’ve got to be looking ahead like that, really ahead like that,” Jones said (via the Dallas Morning News). “So I’d say not having a young, on-the-come, very talented, obvious quarterback that could be coming in and getting snaps and possibly winning ballgames, that’s on me because we passed on it two years ago.”

Whichever Heisman Trophy winner Jones takes — if Aikman is correct — that backup is likely to see some playing time. Romo started only four games after breaking his collarbone for the third time in 2015. On Wednesday, he is to have a scan that is expected to be followed by surgery to insert a plate to stabilize the area.

“I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent,” Stephen Jones, the team’s executive vice president, said Tuesday at the Senior Bowl, “but it’s leaning hard that way.”

Based on on-the-field performance, Manziel might be a better choice than RGIII. Manziel showed signs of making progress when he was playing; his off-the-field issues obviously are another matter. The Cowboys would have to find a way to keep Manziel out of TMZ’s headlines. They haven’t shied away from troubled players, though, as last spring’s signing of Greg Hardy showed.

Manziel, 23, started nine games for the Cleveland Browns in 2015, completing 147 of 258 passes for 1,675 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had 37 carries for 230 yards.

Griffin, who will turn 26 next month, didn’t appear in a single game in 2015, losing his job on the Redskins to Kirk Cousins. He appeared in nine games in 2014, completing 147 of 215 attempts for 1,694 yards and four touchdowns. He had 38 carries for 176 yards and a touchdown. Although he passed for over 3,000 yards the previous two seasons, his health and ability to adapt to playing in the pocket are concerns.

What Jones really needs is a quarterback who combines the best attributes of the two. Good luck with that.


After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.

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