How will Cowboys proceed at backup QB?

IRVING, Texas -- Jon Kitna’s retirement should not come as a surprise. That was the plan when the 2011 season started and that remained the plan when it was cut short because of a back injury.

What will the Cowboys do at their backup quarterback position?

Stephen McGee ended the year as the No. 2 and played all but one series of the Dec. 24 Philadelphia game after Tony Romo bruised his hand. McGee completed 24 of 38 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Eagles.

He will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2012.

Would the Cowboys be comfortable with him as Romo’s backup?

The Cowboys could look to the draft as a possibility. Romo will turn 32 in April and he has suffered injuries in three of the last four seasons, although he has missed just 13 games with 10 coming in 2010 because of the broken collarbone.

It might be wise to look for his potential successor but the quarterback class was thinned out some by the decisions of Matt Barkley and Landry Jones to remain in school. Plus, this team has a number of defensive needs it must address, especially early in the draft.

Then there is free agency.

If you look at Jason Garrett’s history with the Cowboys he has preferred an elder statesman to be Romo’s backup.

Brad Johnson was 39 when he joined the Cowboys in 2007 and started 122 games in his career. He played for Norv Turner and had an idea of what Garrett would want. Kitna was 37 when he joined the Cowboys and started 115 games in his career. He played for Mike Martz, whose offense is from the same Don Coryell scheme Garrett employs, in Detroit and was in Cincinnati with Garrett’s brother, John.

The free-agent market does not appear to have a quarterback with the same credentials and connections. Maybe Detroit’s Shaun Hill. Maybe Sage Rosenfels. Maybe Jason Campbell.

Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said last month that the team would feel comfortable with McGee as the No. 2 in 2012. They may not have another choice.