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Cowboys still need a backup QB

IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys signed Joe Looney to a two-year deal on Tuesday, they filled another need.

Looney can play center and guard, which became a need when Mackenzy Bernadeau left for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Cowboys entered free agency needing to address cornerback, defensive tackle, linebacker, defensive end, running back and tight end.

They re-signed linebacker Rolando McClain. They re-signed cornerback Morris Claiborne. They re-signed tight end James Hanna. They re-signed running back Lance Dunbar. They re-signed linebacker Kyle Wilber.

They added defensive tackle Cedric Thornton. They added defensive end Benson Mayowa. They added running back Alfred Morris.

Quibble over the names and the level at which the Cowboys addressed those needs, but as they start to pour into draft meetings over the next few weeks, they won’t feel the urge to extend themselves over a need.

“The foundation of your team should come through the draft,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You should try to address some needs that you have using the entire landscape of player acquisition and free agency is a big piece of that. But again you want to be disciplined, you want to be targeted.”

Well, there is one position the Cowboys haven’t addressed yet. It’s backup quarterback, the position that played the biggest part in their 4-12 finish.

The Cowboys won one game without Tony Romo. Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden and Kellen Moore combined to go 1-11 in Romo’s absence.

Colt McCoy chose to re-sign with the Washington Redskins. Chase Daniel received $12 million guaranteed from the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys visited with Matt Moore but he opted to re-sign with the Miami Dolphins.

Even Cassel found a new job, signing on to be Marcus Mariota’s backup.

The Cowboys never had an interest in Robert Griffin III, who signed with the Cleveland Browns. They won’t look at Johnny Manziel, at least until he decides he wants to take football seriously.

With the free-agent market picked over, the Cowboys could look at veterans like Josh McCown (Cleveland) or Brian Hoyer (Houston Texans) who could be had in a trade or could be cut later on down the road.

And then there’s the draft, where the Cowboys will work out the top quarterbacks, like Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch. Believe Jerry Jones at your own peril that the Cowboys won’t select a quarterback early in the draft, even at No. 4. It would be foolish to close off options.

“Every position is in play for us at the fourth pick and really throughout the draft,” Garrett said.

Filling a need in the draft doesn’t always work. Last year the Cowboys needed a running back after losing DeMarco Murray and never saw a match with the player and the round.

At present, Kellen Moore is the Cowboys' backup.

At the owners meetings, Jones said he would feel comfortable with Moore behind Romo, but he would like to get him some competition.

Kellen Moore did not throw a pass in his first three years in the NFL. He played in the final three games last season, starting two. He finished with four touchdowns and six interceptions. At times he looked like he could fill the backup role. At others he showed the limitations that made him an undrafted free agent.

“We feel really positive about what he did,” Garrett said. “He came in after training camp and learned our system quickly, had a chance to play at the end of the year, did some positive things, and I think that’s earned him a right to still be on our roster and compete for a spot on our roster. What that spot is we don’t know yet. And again we’ll try to build our team as best we can, build that position as best we can and then everybody’s going to compete and find out who fits in where.”