The Dallas Cowboys are cracking the door for an Andy Dalton return in 2021.
In comments made Monday on 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones lauded Dalton’s confidence and growth as the team’s starting quarterback, adding that “certainly we’d love” if he remained beyond this season.
“Have to address all that at end of year in terms of his goals, what he wants to do, what his opportunities are,” Jones said, via USA Today.
It’s been a roller coaster 2020 campaign for Dalton. The former longtime Bengals starter took over for an injured Dak Prescott in Week 6 but suffered a concussion the following week and then landed on the COVID-19 list, from which he was activated on November 18.
Dalton has since led the Cowboys to three victories across their last five contests, keeping the 5-9 club alive in the NFC East divisional race. On Sunday, they pieced together their first winning streak of the season by vanquishing the San Francisco 49ers, 41-33.
In that game, Dalton finished 19-of-33 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Altogether, through nine appearances, he’s completed 165 of 256 attempts (64.5%) for 1,549 yards, 11 TDs and six interceptions, which cumulatively translates to an 85.6 passer rating.
ALL the latest Dallas Cowboys news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Cowboys newsletter here!
Not the Plan?
Toss aside the fact that Prescott is likely to get the franchise tag or land a long-term pact this coming offseason, that he’s expected to maintain his franchise QB status in Dallas.
And consider: Dalton was always a short-term rental for the organization. He signed what amounted to a one-year, $3 million deal largely to repair his stock before testing the market again in 2021.
Dalton — the owner of more than 34,000 career passing yards, 200 touchdowns, 70 wins and three Pro Bowl trips — admitted as much upon putting pen to paper back in May.
“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,” he said.
Among current Dallas signal-callers, only third-stringer Garrett Gilbert and rookie Ben DiNucci are under contract past this season. Prescott and Dalton are slated to hit unrestricted free agency in March.
Follow the Heavy on Cowboys Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Jones Likens Hurts, Dak
You would never know Jalen Hurts is a rookie quarterback based on his level of play. And you would never know Hurts is a Philadelphia Eagles quarterback based on the effusive praise from his bitter division rival.
“You have to admire what he’s doing,” Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan. “We watched the Philly game yesterday against the Cardinals. (It’s) just amazing what he’s doing as a rookie, just stepping right in. You hear he’s got a ton of respect on the team, (that) he’s a hard worker. To some degree, he reminds you, I’m not going to go as far as to say all the details of (his skillset). His leadership, competitiveness and the success he’s having quickly reminds (me) a lot of our guy, Dak.
“And this is just what I’m seeing from afar. It’s so unfair for me to judge. He competed his tail off against a really good Arizona Cardinal football team. Certainly, Kyler Murray is playing at a high level, and I think he went step-for-step with him and just came up a little short at the end.
“So, we’re going to have our hands full when we play Jalen. His success in college speaks for itself. He had some real highs and got knocked down a little bit when Tua (Tagovailoa) came in. And he stepped right back up again for Alabama and helped them finish off a championship, and then moved over to Oklahoma (and had success there). (It) seems like everywhere he goes he just wins. So, hats off to him.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL