Cowboys send last year's starting QB packing

Updated: August 4, 2004, 5:47 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

In a stunning move that likely pushes 17-year veteran Vinny Testaverde to the top of the team's depth chart, the Dallas Cowboys released Quincy Carter on Wednesday.

FANTASY FOCUS...

The release of Quincy Carter might be significant for fantasy owners. While we haven't seen Carter as a popular pick so far -- he's being drafted in only 12.5 percent of leagues -- the fact that he won't be the starting QB could help others. Carter was never the most accurate passer, but Vinny Testaverde could be. This makes Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn more attractive fantasy players. Johnson had one of his best seasons with Testaverde throwing him the ball in 1998, the only time Johnson scored double digits in TDs. And as a second fantasy quarterback, we still wouldn't strongly recommend Vinny, but as a late round pick, like Carter was, take a shot and see if he can duplicate his 2000 success of 3,721 yards and 21 scores.
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  • Sources told ESPN and ESPN.com that Carter recently failed a drug test. Carter already was in the NFL substance-abuse program, having tested positive for an illegal substance in the past, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. ESPN.com has learned that Carter spent time at a drug rehabilitation facility within the past 18 months.

    League sources told ESPN.com that despite the positive test Carter is not under suspension.

    A source close to Carter vehemently denied a broadcast report that the quarterback had tested positive for cocaine.

    Carter, the starting quarterback for the last three seasons, left the Cowboys' training camp in Oxnard, Calf., early Wednesday. The release of Carter is expected to be official later Wednesday afternoon and addressed by coach Bill Parcells at his daily press briefing between practices. Owner Jerry Jones has confirmed the move.

    A three-year veteran, Carter had started 31 games in his career, including all 16 in 2003, when he led Dallas to a 10-6 record and a wild card spot, the first postseason appearance by the team since 1999. The former University of Georgia standout was a second-round pick in the 2001 draft.

    "I think I probably speak for all the guys of how disappointed we are that Quincy is no longer going to be part of this team," Testaverde said. "But at the same time we know we have to look forward to getting things down and go out and win games."

    After practice, Parcells gave the players some sort of explanation about Carter's departure, but players declined to comment on the discussion.

    Carter's career has been a roller coaster, with flashes of brilliance often followed by very uneven performances. Just days ago, when asked about his starter for this season, Parcells acknowledged that Carter had "a leg up" on the No. 1 job.

    What changed that, at least for now, is unknown.

    In his three NFL seasons, Carter completed 507 of 902 passes for 5,839 yards, with 29 touchdown passes, 36 interceptions and a passer rating of 70.0. He threw for 3,302 yards last season, his best year in the league.

    Testaverde, 40, was signed by the Cowboys in the spring after the New York Jets released him for salary cap reasons. Testaverde played for Parcells in New York and, even before the Jets freed him, it was obvious he was headed to Dallas for a reunion with the coach.

    The 17-year veteran has completed 3,334 of 5,925 passes for 40,943 yards, and he has 251 touchdown passes and 235 interceptions.

    The other two quarterbacks on the roster are rookie Drew Henson, the former Michigan star who in February abandoned his pursuit of a baseball career with the New York Yankees to return to football, and second-year pro Tony Romo.

    Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.