Ben DiNucci may earn the honor of the NFL quarterback with one of the lowest salaries to start a game this season. DiNucci has a $610,000 base salary for 2020 as part of his four-year, $3.3 million contract he signed with the Cowboys this offseason, per Spotrac. The quarterback also received a $95,148 signing bonus, the only part of his contract that was guaranteed when he signed with the Cowboys.
Dallas selected DiNucci in the seventh round with the 231st overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Prior to being drafted by the Cowboys, DiNucci received interest from the Bears and Browns who wanted to sign the quarterback as an undrafted free agent.
“QB Ben DiNucci was receiving phone calls from Browns and Bears with undrafted free agent contracts,” The Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken noted on Twitter. “Cowboys decided not to leave it up to chance, told him they’d draft him in seventh round if available. ‘When pick No. 231 came up, I was glued to the TV. I was glued to my phone.'”
For perspective, Andy Dalton signed a one-year, $3 million contract which included a $1 million salary along with a $2 million signing bonus to be the Cowboys backup quarterback. Dalton is sidelined after sustaining a concussion in Week 7 against Washington. After failing to reach an agreement on a long-term deal, Dak Prescott signed a one-year, $31.4 million contract last offseason but will miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones Described DiNucci as ‘Romo-esque’
DiNucci has received high praised from his teammates, coaches and even Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones. He described DiNucci as “Romo-esque”, but the quarterback will have a lot to prove to live up to this lofty comparison.
“You certainly like his movement,” Jones noted, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “He’s a good athlete. He’s got 10-inch hands. He can get his hands around the ball. He can sling it from a lot of angles. Reminds me a little Romo-esque in how he can relase the ball from different angles.”
Cowboys Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott also expressed his confidence in the rookie Cowboys quarterback.
“Ben has been nothing but a pro,” Elliott explained to DallasCowboys.com. “I think what Ben brings to the table is a young guy with a lot of arm talent. And what else he can do that people don’t realize, he can run a little bit, so he’ll be able to get outside the pocket and make plays. Now it’s about us raising our play around him.”
DiNucci Transferred from Pitt to James Madison
DiNucci has traveled an unlikely road to make it to the NFL as the quarterback transferred from Pittsburgh to James Madison. He played sparingly at Pitt but was able to reinvent himself into a pro prospect thanks to his performance at JMU. DiNucci’s opportunity with Dallas may be limited with Dalton expected to once again become the starter when he is fully healthy, but the rookie plans to make a statement in the Cowboys offense. After he was drafted, DiNucci emphasized his plan to learn from Prescott but now it is time to put that knowledge into action.
“I’ve paid attention to Dak,” DiNucci told ESPN. “He’s had a great few years. It’s crazy to think that’s the guy I’m going to be learning from, so I’m paying extra attention. You think of the playmakers on offense, Amari Cooper, [Michael Gallup], they had really good years; bringing in CeeDee [Lamb]; Zeke [Elliott] in the backfield. Some of those vertical shots in the offense helped. It’s going to be a fun offense, a similar one to what we ran in college. And Dak is a similar quarterback. I’m a guy that uses my legs, extends plays, that kind of off-platform stuff, different arm angles.