The Dallas Cowboys signed free agent quarterback Brandon Weeden Monday

The Dallas Cowboys signed free agent quarterback Brandon Weeden Monday

By Matthew Postins

The Dallas Cowboys signed quarterback to a two-year contract on Monday, providing the team some insurance if current back-up Kyle Orton decides to retire.

Cleveland drafted Weeden, 30, in the first round in 2012 and threw him into the starting lineup as a rookie. He went 5-10 as a starter, but he fell out of favor as the Browns changed coaching staffs. In 2013 Weeden started five games and lost all five. The Browns released him last month with three years remaining on his rookie contract.

Along with his 5-20 career record, Weeden threw more interceptions (26) than touchdowns (23) and completed 438 of 784 passes for 5,116 yards.

Clearly, it is not a signing where the Cowboys believe that Weeden can challenge their incumbent starter, Tony Romo, much less Orton, the latter of which nearly did enough to take the Cowboys to a NFC East title in Week 17.

Romo, who missed the finale, is rehabbing his surgically-repaired herniated disc and told reporters this month that he expects to be ready for workouts in April.

Orton, meanwhile, has been quiet ever since news broke during the NFL Scouting Combine that he was considering retirement. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones addressed the situation then, saying he expects Orton to return.

If Orton retires, the Cowboys would save money. Orton is expected to make $3.25 million in base salary in 2014 and count $4.435 million against the cap. Should Orton retire, the Cowboys would save that base salary. Weeden’s two-year deal is worth a reported $1.23 million in base salary, with no bonus money.

While the move doesn’t preclude the Cowboys from taking a quarterback in May’s draft, it makes it highly unlikely, especially if Orton decides to return in 2014.

The Cowboys are expecting a visit from former Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen on Tuesday. The Cowboys reportedly met with former Chicago defensive tackle Henry Melton on Monday.

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