The Dallas Cowboys signed Andy Dalton – what does it mean for Dak Prescott?
Over the weekend, the Dallas Cowboys agreed to a contract with a quarterback.
But it wasn’t starting quarterback Dak Prescott.
On Saturday, the Cowboys signed former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to a 1-year deal worth up to $7 million.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) May 3, 2020
Saturday’s signing comes in the midst of the Cowboys’ ongoing contract stalemate with Prescott, their franchise quarterback who has not agreed to terms on a long-term deal.
In March, Prescott reportedly turned down an offer from the Cowboys that included an average salary of $33 million and $105 million in guaranteed dollars, which led to him being franchise tagged by the team.
Cowboys placed exclusive franchise tag on QB Dak Prescott, per source. No other team allowed to sign him.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2020
So, what does this move mean for Prescott moving forward?
One of Prescott’s former teammates, wide receiver Dez Bryant, said Saturday that by signing Dalton, Dallas is not operating in good faith.
Nothing against Andy dalton because I think he’s a great player..but the cowboys are extremely out of line… Pay Dak… I watched the cowboys pay Tony Twice once without a winning rec… I guess the cowboys viewing the QB position a plug in piece because of the dominant offense
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) May 3, 2020
In his four years as a starter, Prescott has started all 64 possible games, leading Dallas to two division titles, two playoff appearances, and one playoff win in 2019.
He was also named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 and was a Pro Bowler in 2016 and 2019.
On Monday, Stephen A. Smith called Dallas out for what he perceives as a disrespectful move in signing Dalton. Similar to Bryant, he invoked Romo’s name.
“For Dak Prescott to have never missed a game, has a winning record, has completed 65 percent of his passes in three of the four years he has been in the NFL, took you to the playoffs twice, and won a playoff game this goes back to what I have religiously said. If this were Tony Romo, Jerry Jones would have had him signed by now.”
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 4, 2020
In 2013, the Cowboys and Romo agreed to a six-year, $108 million contract extension with $55 million in guarantees and a $25 million signing bonus.
At the time of the signing, Romo had yet to win a playoff game in his career and only had one more Pro Bowl appearance than Prescott.
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky has a different take, believing that Dallas signing Dalton is more than just a contingency plan. He believes Dalton is on par with Prescott.
“I know what normal backup quarterback signings look like and feel like, there’s no question about it. There is a massive upgrade to the starter from the backup. That’s not the case here.”
"This is not a normal backup quarterback signing … If Andy Dalton had to go and play the season with the Cowboys … they would be sniffing 9 or 10 wins."
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) May 4, 2020
In his nine years as the Bengals’ starting quarterback, Dalton was a 3-time Pro Bowler while leading Cincinnati to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons.
Andy Dalton first 4 years in NFL
99 TDS/66 INTS
4 playoff trips
Dak first 4 years in NFL
97 TDS/36 INTS
2 playoff trips
Dalton is a very capable player
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) May 3, 2020
The Bengals, however, have never won a playoff game with Dalton under center.
While Dalton’s previous success in Cincinnati does raise eyebrows as to whether or not he will strictly be a backup in Dallas, there are those who see his signing as simply upgrading a position of weakness on the Cowboys roster.
Shannon Sharpe believes that signing Dalton gives the Cowboys leverage over Dak Prescott, but it is ultimately nothing more than acquiring a quality backup, which they haven’t had since Prescott’s rookie year with Romo.
“I believe this is twofold. This gives them the quality backup that they need because I believe if something were to happen to Dak, I don’t believe personally that Cooper Rush could come in and lead the team with all of that pressure.”
.@ShannonSharpe on the Cowboys signing Andy Dalton:
"It gives the Cowboys a quality backup that they need, that they have not had since Dak took over the job and Tony Romo came back from injury. I do believe this gives them some leverage over Dak." pic.twitter.com/DfBLXZUJQQ
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) May 4, 2020
On First Things First, former NFL running back Brian Westbrook detailed why this deal is ultimately non-threatening to Prescott’s status as the starter in Dallas, with Dalton serving as an insurance policy, relating it to his time with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“To me, there is no better insurance policy for a team that is trying to win now than a veteran quarterback. Even though back in the day we had Donovan McNabb and he was healthy and playing well, we brought in Jeff Garcia because Andy [Reid] knew him and with the opportunity he was going to be able to step in and lead the football team.”
"If I'm Dak Prescott, coming off my career-best season, this move doesn't mean very much unless I'm saying, 'I don't want to play.' bc Andy Dalton will be on the bench until Dak doesn't want to play any longer." — @36westbrook pic.twitter.com/xvlaRGFatG
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) May 4, 2020
If Dak Prescott does indeed hold out in hopes of getting the long-term contract he desires, the Cowboys have a new quarterback in the fold who is capable of keeping the ship afloat.
And if Prescott and the franchise do come to an agreement on a deal, Dalton becomes arguably the best backup quarterback in the league.
Either way, it’s a big W in Big D.