Testaverde, 40, signs with Cowboys

Updated: June 3, 2004, 8:41 PM ET
Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- Vinny Testaverde wants another chance at age 40 to be a starting quarterback. His former coach is giving it to him.

Testaverde and Bill Parcells were reunited Thursday when the quarterback signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

Vinnie Testaverde
Unless Vinny Testaverde, above, proves otherwise, Quincy Carter is the Cowboys' No. 1 quarterback.

"The fire still burns within for me to be out on the field still playing. All I want is an opportunity," Testaverde said. "The opportunity to compete to be a starter excites me. I didn't have that opportunity in New York."

The Jets released Testaverde this week, ending a six-year run for his hometown team in an expected salary-cap move. His first two seasons there were with Parcells, but Testaverde had since become Chad Pennington's backup.

Testaverde's agent, Mike Azzarelli, said the quarterback could make as much as $5 million this season, based on playing time and performance.

Testaverde will get the chance to compete for the starting job. But the Cowboys didn't just give it to him.

Parcells has said Quincy Carter, the starter for most of the past three seasons and all 16 games last year, will go into training camp as the No. 1 quarterback. But the coach has always said that the best player will start.

Parcells didn't take part in Thursday's announcement, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that would be the approach.

"We basically have an incumbent in Quincy, but we want to be better than we've been at quarterback, and competition creates that," Jones said. "Vinny came here to play. He came here to compete as a starter and he knows Bill well. He's knows that he's going to be given that kind of opportunity."

Testaverde will take part in the team's minicamp that begins Saturday. Besides pushing Carter, the Cowboys want him to be a mentor to Drew Henson, who quit professional baseball and returned to football this spring.

In 1998, Testaverde made the Pro Bowl and guided the Jets to the AFC title game in Parcells' first season. But Testaverde tore his Achilles' tendon in the first game of 1999, Parcells' last as a coach until taking over the Cowboys last season.

Testaverde said he didn't know the specifics of how he would be given a chance to compete for the starting job. That didn't concern him after talking to Parcells.

"I'm not too worried about how that's going to get done," he said. "Obviously, we have a relationship and I trust his word. I know he's going to play the guy that gives him the best chance to win."

The Heisman Trophy winner was the No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in 1987. He stayed with the Buccaneers through 1992, then spent three seasons in Cleveland and two in Baltimore before going to New York in 1998.

The Jets' move had been expected since February, when Testaverde said he wouldn't take part in the team's offseason program and was considering retirement after 17 seasons.

Testaverde started just 11 games the past two seasons, losing the starting job to Pennington early in 2002. Testaverde went 2-5 as a starter last season after Pennington broke his wrist and, despite the losing record, became the ninth quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 40,000 yards.

The Cowboys now have five quarterbacks, and Jones wouldn't say how or when that number would be cut down.

Chad Hutchinson, another former pro baseball player and the starter the second half of 2002, played this spring in NFL Europe. Tony Romo spent all of his rookie season on the roster without playing a down.

"Five quarterbacks are more than you can work with, so we'll have to look at that," Jones said. `We will address that in the future."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press