Andy Dalton Reveals Why He Joined Cowboys in ‘Big Picture Plan’

Andy Dalton

Getty Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton earned a whopping $83,526,241 over his nine-year Cincinnati Bengals incumbency, so signing with the Dallas Cowboys wasn’t a financially-driven endeavor.

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.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL