Decisions start at Quarterback for NFL teams

Front-office decision-makers in the NFL may have their back against the wall heading into the stage of full-blown off-season preparation for the 2005 season. With the weeding of talent, salary-cap issues and evaluation basically scoured on its immediate team roster, the time is quickly coming to address team needs for the future.

NFL teams employ different scenarios to improve, add depth and quality to their rosters while not upsetting the apple cart. Arguably, most teams believe the quarterback position has to be solid, with a playmaker to succeed at the professional level. While some teams invest in the future, developing a player of such caliber, others may look toward a high-priced veteran, potentially on the downside of his career, to resurrect a floundering team.

For an organization which sports its head coach as the primary personnel decision-maker, the veteran player appears to be the quickest method for continued job security, though the long-term prospective of the team may be in question.

In NFL cities such as New York and Buffalo, getting the young quarterback on the field became the preferred way, not the necessity. While not in a rebuilding state, the Giants led by veteran head coach Tom Coughlin sought to develop rookie Eli Manning by throwing him into the fire, while veteran quarterback Kurt Warner seethed with being relegated to the bench.

Though the situation is somewhat different, the end result is the same in Buffalo. Second-year signal-caller J.P. Losman has been handed the keys to the kingdom in Buffalo when veteran Drew Bledsoe refused to accept a backup role, at a lessened salary.

Bledsoe, a high-profile, quality quarterback over the second half of the 2004 season with the Bills, would not be out of work for long. With Dallas Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells seeking a veteran to guide the team heading into the 2005 season, there was not much doubt a Bledsoe/Parcells marriage would again be present.

There may be no other prime example better than the Dallas Cowboys. Head coach Bill Parcells has followed the theory of utilizing a veteran in lieu of Drew Henson, who has been deemed the quarterback of the future.

In 2004, Parcells chose one his former players, 40-something-year-old Vinny Testaverde to lead the Cowboys. Coming off a 10-6 season and playoff appearance in Parcells' firstyear at the helm, the veteran signal-caller was called upon to guide the team following the unexpected release of former starter Quincy Carter. Testaverde, a capable starting quarterback when Parcells was the head coach in New York, was signed by the Cowboys to provide depth to its questionable quarterback position.

Thrust into the pressure of leading the team, the Parcells-Testaverde tandem failed miserably.

As the 2004 season wore on, rather than provide Henson the opportunity to gain valuable experience, it was an injured Testaverde remaining in the starting lineup. Even late in the season when rookie running back Junior Jones had recovered from injury and appeared to be a solid option in the running game, Parcells kept Henson on the bench.

Now in preparation for the busiest time of the off-season gearing up, again the Dallas Cowboys have made yet another questionable decision. Parcells was at the forefront of bringing in another one of his former players and again to become the starter at quarterback for the Cowboys.

If the Parcells-Bledsoe tandem doesn't present positive results, which is believed to be skeptical at this time due to the questionable pass-blocking ability of Cowboys, the immobile Bledsoe may be a sitting duck.

And Parcells may yet again retire from the game, but this time it may be his final farewell.

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