Quincy Carter Released: Failed Cocaine Test

Dallas Morning NewsCowboys release Carter

12:26 PM CDT

Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter has been released, sources confirmed today.

The Cowboys went 10-6 with Carter starting and got back in the playoffs in Bill Parcells’ first year in Dallas. Carter started all 16 games last season and came to camp expecting to be the starter again. The other quarterbacks in camp are 40-year-old Vinny Testaverde, rookie Drew Henson and unproven second-year player Tony Romo.

In a recent interview with The Dallas Morning News, Carter talked about the pressure of playing quarterback in Dallas. “I think I understand the pressures of being the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback and trying to meet the expectations,” Carter said. “At the end of the day, I have to be Quincy. I can’t be Roger Staubach. I can’t be Troy Aikman. I can’t be Don Meredith, whose number I wear. I can only be me.” Carter, 16-15 as a starter, passed for 3,305 yards with 17 touchdowns and 21 interceptions last season as the Cowboys advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. But he passed for 154 yards and an interception in the playoff loss to Carolina. “This is a tough city to play for, and they’ll love you when you’re winning,” he said. “But you have to earn it. I got a small taste of that last year, and I want some more.”

Stunning news with no explanation offered as of yet.

Mickey Spagnola, a reporter for DallasCowboys.com, reports,

Cowboys starting quarterback Quincy Carter is not at Wednesday’s morning practice here at training camp in Oxnard, Calif., and witnesses say they saw him being driven out of the Residence Inn parking just before the start of practice.

The club is not commenting on Carter’s absence, but obviously will address the matter at head coach Bill Parcells’ daily press conference, carried live on DallasCowboys.com at 11:30 (PDT).

AP’s Stephen Hawkins has a longer version of the “Carter missed practice” story, but nothing of consequence.

Hat tip: Steven Taylor via e-mail. (He also has a post at SportsBlog.)

Update (134o): ESPN’s Len Pasquereli – Cowboys send last year’s starting QB packing

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, the starting quarterback for much of the last three seasons, on Wednesday.

Carter left the Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard, Calf., early Wednesday. Sources who confirmed the roster move, which came with no advance warning, could not provide a reason for the decision, or declined to. 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. 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.

While I’m not sure that Testaverde isn’t the better short-term option and Henson the better long-term option, the move certainly makes no sense from a football perspective. There almost has to be a massive violation of team or league rules involved here.

At any rate, Saturday’s ESPN piece, “QB Carter confident about remaining Cowboys starter,” is rather ironic at this juncture.

UPDATE (1550): As per e-mails from Jeff Quinton and Steven Taylor, I’ve updated the post title and append the following:

Fox Sports – Cowboys cut Carter after positive cocaine test

Quarterback Quincy Carter is expected to be released by the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday after testing positive for cocaine, league sources told FOX NFL Sunday insider John Czarnecki. Club owner Jerry Jones confirmed that Carter has been released. “It was not a difficult decision for me,” he said, declining to elaborate.
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, asked about Carter’s release at a regularly scheduled news conference Wednesday at the team’s training camp headquarters in Oxnard, Ca., said: “I’m saddened by this. I’ve got 18 months invested in this process, too. But we’re going on.”

Carter entered the league in the NFL substance abuse program and this is his second positive test, which by NFL rules would warrant a four-game fine — not a suspension. Parcells said offseason acquisition Vinny Testaverde, 40, will replace Carter as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. “Right now, that’s the most experienced player that we have, and I’m confident in that player,” he said.

Given the investment of a 2nd round pick and nearly three seasons worth of starts, this is a bitter pill for the Cowboys to swallow. But neither Jones nor Parcells have hesitated in the past to rid themselves of a player who was a detriment to the team. And, certainly, there’s no point in wasting time on a marginal prospect who can’t even be bothered to keep his nose clean. For a starting quarterback struggling to prove he deserves that job, this was about the stupidest thing he could have done.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. This could have been “Quincy’s Year” had he only exercised the tiny amount of common sense necessary to NOT use cocaine. I don’t get it. These people know they’re subject to testing, and yet they go out and wreck their futures. Quincy may or may not have made the grade as Bill Parcell’s QB of the future, but by showing a complete lack of good judgement, he’s assured himself of a role as the QB of the past.
    Too bad… he’s a likeable kid. – AB