Despite digging the Buffalo Bills out of an 0-4 hole and nearly getting them back into the playoffs, the Bills on Monday cut quarterback Drew Bledsoe because of the solid development of last season’s first round pick J.P. Losman. One day after being released from Buffalo, the Dallas Cowboys, who were desperate for a quarterback, came a calling.
Parcells, who has made it habit of handpicking players that he has previously coached, showed a great deal of interest in the person he made the No. 1 overall pick of the New England Patriots back in 1993. When the 33-year-old Bledsoe learned of Parcells’s interest, he chose not to pursue other teams, signed a three-year deal with the Cowboys worth about $14 million, and included a $2 million dollar signing bonus.
He now joins wide receivers Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson and running back Richie Anderson as former players on the Cowboys who have played for Parcells in the past and have had success.
“There’s no doubt that when a team elects to go with somebody else, that you certainly want to prove that they did the wrong thing,” Bledsoe said during a news conference at Dallas’s team headquarters. “That is part of the motivation.”
Bledsoe, in his four seasons under Parcells, set numerous NFL records for passes completed and passes attempted. He also threw for over 4,000 yards twice. They reached the Super Bowl in the 1996 season, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers 35-21. After that season, Parcells left to coach the New York Jets and Bledsoe was never the same.
Back in a 2001 match-up versus the New York Jets, Bledsoe suffered a very serious injury in the fourth quarter that cost him his starting job and led to the emergence of Tom Brady. From that point on, Bledsoe, who did not play for the remainder of the regular season after being declared inactive for four games, was the third quarterback for games 7-9, according to Dallascowboys.com, and was the back up QB the final seven games of the season. He also did not see action in the Divisional Playoff victory that the Patriots won in overtime 16-13 versus the Oakland Raiders.
In the AFC Championship game on Jan. 27, 2002, Brady suffered an ankle injury late into the second quarter that forced Bledsoe back into action. He did not miss a beat, throwing three completed passes to wide receiver David Patten, including an 11-yard touchdown strike. He played the entire second half and lead the Pats to a 24-17 win over the Steelers.
Despite a solid performance in the AFC Championship game, Brady got the start against the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl XXXVI and he led a game-winning drive in late moments in the fourth quarter that was capped by Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal that gave the Patriots a 20-17 victory and their first Super Bowl title.
Bledsoe after that season was traded to Buffalo, where he had a Pro Bowl season, throwing for 4,359 yards 24 touchdowns, which was the most by a Bills QB since Jim Kelly club record 33 touchdown passes back in the 1991 season. In his three years though as the Bills leader on offense, he could not lead them back to the post-season going 23-25 in that time period.
This past season, Bledsoe helped Buffalo recover from an 0-4 beginning to a 9-6 mark going into week 17, with a chance to make the playoffs.
Bledsoe’s arrival gives a sense that Vinny Testaverde, the Cowboys starting quarterback from this past season, will not be resigned and those young quarterbacks Drew Henson and Tony Romo will not see any action this upcoming year.
“The experience that we’ve had over the last few years, going with rookie quarterbacks or unproven quarterback. That’s not lit a fire under my you know what," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
By signing Bledsoe, Jones gave the impression of the importance of this upcoming season. If the Cowboys are successful, coach Parcells, might return to finish the final year of his contract. Another disappointing season though, will likely result in him walking away from the final year of his contract. With those cards on the table, Bledsoe believes that he can where Testaverde could not a season ago.
“I know that there’s criticism and skepticism and all this stuff out there about this deal and I’m not going to sit up here and try and defend myself or any of that,” said Bledsoe. “The one thing that I will say is that when my time as a Dallas Cowboy is done, the story will be written. And I think it will be a story that will have a lot of success involved and that will be the answer to all those kinds of questions.
The Cowboys hope that the eight starting quarterback that the team has had since three-time Super Bowl winner Troy Aikman retired, can lead them back to glory.