Bledsoe to replace Testaverde as starter

Barring a last-minute breakdown in negotiations, veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe will be the new starter for the Dallas Cowboys in 2005.

Multiple league sources confirmed Tuesday night that Bledsoe, whose release by the Buffalo Bills became official earlier Tuesday, has reached agreement in principle with the Cowboys on most of the major components of a contract. Bledsoe will fly to Dallas on Wednesday, meet with coaches and team officials, and likely finish the deal.

A contract with the Cowboys would reunite Bledsoe with coach Bill Parcells, who brought the quarterback into the league as the first overall selection in the 1993 draft, while with the New England Patriots. If the contract is completed on Wednesday, it would mark one week from the day the Bills announced their intention to cut Bledsoe after three seasons and elevate J.P. Losman to the starter's job.

Bledsoe could not be officially released until Tuesday, when the NFL moratorium on cutting players was lifted. Dallas officials obviously moved very quickly to try to close a deal with Bledsoe, who would supplant Vinny Testaverde as the starter.

Testaverde is slated to become an unrestricted free agent and there have been no talks with him about a contract extension. Bledsoe is eight years younger than Testaverde.

ESPN.com reported last week that there were discussions between the Bills and Cowboys about a potential Bledsoe trade. It is not known if the Cowboys opted not to pursue those talks or if Bledsoe advised the Bills he did not wanted to be traded, and preferred instead to decide for himself where he would resume his career.

Speculation has been rampant, ever since the Bills announced they would release him, that Bledsoe would sign with the Cowboys.

For his career, Bledsoe has appeared in 172 games and started all but one of them. He has completed 3,449 of 6,049 passes for 39,808 yards, with 221 touchdown passes, and 181 interceptions, with a career passer rating of 76.7. Bledsoe eight times threw for more than 3,000 yards and twice for 4,000-plus yards.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.