Dalton, he explained, didn’t have an agenda in choosing the Cowboys over other NFL suitors during his brief stint on the open market. He’s not expecting to leapfrog Dak Prescott for the starting job — quite the opposite — nor is he (outwardly) focused on unlocking an additional $4 million in playing-time incentives built into his one-year Dallas deal.
The TCU alumnus, a resident of the Lone Star State, simply and innocuously pivoted to “this next half of my career.” The back-nine, in other words.
“After weighing everything, I felt like going to Dallas was going to be the right fit for me this year,” Dalton told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday, via The Athletic. “I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity. … I wanted to join a high-class organization and a team that’s ready to win, and be with Mike McCarthy, with his history with quarterbacks, it gives me a chance to come to a new place, a chance to learn, help Dak out any way I can, and just be an asset for this team. Obviously, I bring a lot of experience and can bring a lot to the table, so I’m here to help this team win and help in any way I can. … This team is ready to win. I felt like it was the best opportunity for this year and hopefully it will set me up for my future. This was a big picture plan. … I feel like I have a lot of years left (in the NFL). I feel like there is a lot of good football left for me.”
It’s refreshing honesty from the 32-year-old, who was unceremoniously dumped after Cincinnati drafted LSU QB Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick, ending a decade-long tenure highlighted by more than 34,000 passing yards, 200 touchdowns, 70 wins, and three Pro Bowl trips.
What This Means for Andy Dalton’s Future & 2020 NFL Season
Reading between the lines, Dalton is comfortable rehabbing his value in Dallas before shopping his wares next offseason as an unrestricted free agent. The Cowboys are a ready-made Super Bowl contender, given this year’s coaching and personnel moves, and the Red Rifle is one snap away from piloting such a promising club. That, he’s well aware of.
The Cowboys, though, have their own underlying motive. Not only is Dalton a monumental upgrade on former backup Cooper Rush, who was waived Monday, but his arrival buys back some leverage from Prescott amid slow-rolling negotiations toward a megadeal. Call it quarterback insurance — on the field and off.
Unless your name is Rush, there are no losers in this marriage. It’s a rare win-win for both parties as the team strengthed its collective talent while the player boosted his individual stock.
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Cowboys Answer If Dalton is a ‘Threat’ to Dak: Report
Shortly after news broke Saturday evening of Dalton’s agreement with Dallas, Mike Fisher of Maven Sports was told by a source that Dalton isn’t “meant as a threat” to Prescott, the franchise-tagged starter.
“This signing of (Dalton) is not about Dak’s (contract),” the source informed Fisher.
But it was largely about Rush, whose release saved the Cowboys $2.13 million against the salary cap, leaving behind no dead money. The team won’t carry three signal-callers on the final roster, rendering the 2017 undrafted free agent obsolete.
Dallas will have Prescott under center, Dalton on the sidelines, and seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci on the practice squad. It’s likely that former Eagles QB Clayton Thorson, who signed a reserve/futures contract in January, is dumped in the days or weeks ahead.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL