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Cowboys Sign QB Andy Dalton: How Does it Affect Other Dallas QBs?

Last night, the Dallas Cowboys interrupted dinner and TV binging with the surprising signing of free agent Quarterback Andy Dalton. What does adding the three-time Pro Bowler mean for Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, and the rest of the Cowboys’ QB room?

You can click here to read more about the details of the signing itself. But for today, let’s really dive in to the impact on the existing players.

There’s no denying the superficial intrigue behind this move as it relates to Dak Prescott and his ongoing contract negotiations. After all, Dalton has started 133 games and the Bengals have made the playoffs five times since he became the starting QB.

But any notion that Andy was brought in to compete with or threaten Dak, or even gives the Cowboys more leverage in contract talks, isn’t that insightful.

For one, Dalton’s last Pro Bowl was in 2016 and his last playoff appearance was in 2015. While it may be more indicative of Cincinnati’s overall decline than his own, it isn’t like Andy’s been too successful in a while.

Even at his best, Andy Dalton has never been seen as one of the league’s top passers. He’s more of a high-level game manager; he can win if all of the circumstances are just right.

Still, Dalton never got them a single playoff win in his four attempts. He missed the 2015 game due to injury.

For a Dallas Cowboys team that has loaded up to compete for a Super Bowl, resting such hopes on Andy Dalton would be far less than ideal.

Jon Kitna, Tony Romo
Former Cowboys QBs Jon Kitna & Tony Romo

Signing Dalton is about the backup position, not the starting one. It’s the Cowboys getting back to a longstanding strategy of putting experienced veterans behind their franchise QB.

We saw this for years with Tony Romo. From Brad Johnson to Jon Kitna to Kyle Orton, there was a guy with starting experience behind Romo at nearly all times during his run with the Cowboys.

The practice actually goes back as far as Jerry Jones has owned the team. With Troy Aikman as the unquestioned starter in the 90s, Dallas staffed the backup role with players like Steve Beuerlein, Rodney Peete, and even Randall Cunningham at times.

Dak Prescott enjoyed this in his rookie season, albeit not by design. While Tony Romo was around and provided support at times, Prescott’s primary confidant was 3rd-stringer Mark Sanchez.

While he may be a punchline today, Sanchez’s experience as a rookie with high expectations and an immediate starting role were more relatable to Prescott. Romo didn’t become a starter until midway through his fourth season.

Since then Dallas has been less judicious about the backup QB position. In 2017 it was Kellen Moore, who only had two career starts at that point during garbage. Partway through that year, undrafted rookie Cooper Rush took over.

Rush has held the job ever since, though he hasn’t even attempted a pass since 2017. Cooper’s only played during a couple of blowouts, actually throwing the ball just three times in as many seasons.

Cooper Rush
Dallas Cowboys QB Cooper Rush

So no, signing Andy Dalton isn’t about Dak Prescott. It’s about Cooper Rush and the backup spot.

If Dallas wanted to put real heat on Dak then they could’ve gone after Cam Newton or even Jameis Winston. They also could’ve drafted someone higher than the 7th Round of last week’s NFL Draft.

Even if the Cowboys can’t get a long-term contract agreement with Prescott this offseason, the franchise tag should secure his services for 2020. Dallas sees itself as a Super Bowl contender with the arrival of Mike McCarthy and their other offseason business.

While Dak’s been highly durable for the last four years, eventually even the sturdiest guys have that one bad hit. The Cowboys don’t want to see their season derailed if misfortune finally finds Prescott.

Andy Dalton provides added insurance for postseason hopes. His $3 million in guaranteed money is only a slight bump from the $2.1 million that Cooper Rush was going to get this year.

The real question now is what the Cowboys do with Cooper. They can afford to carry both Dalton and Rush through training camp but it’s highly unlikely both would make it to the active roster.

Dallas also has two young prospects in the stable in Clayton Thorson, a 2019 5th-Round pick, and newly-drafted Ben DiNucci.

Five quarterbacks seems a bit much for any camp. You need to be able to give each guy enough time to even make it worth having them; four tends to be the ideal number.

Dallas could easily just dump Thorson now and then let Rush fight for his job this summer. But with Andy Dalton clearly coming in as the new number two, perhaps they will cut Cooper now and let him find a real backup opportunity elsewhere.

So yes, the signing of Andy Dalton was a big post-draft move for the Dallas Cowboys. It shows a return to the “veteran backup” philosophy and really heralds Dak Prescott as the franchsie QB, based on the organization’s history.

For Cooper Rush, unfortunately, it means his NFL journey will likely have to continue with a new team.

What do you think?

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Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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  1. Think you missed a YUGE point. Dallas just eliminated Dak holding out as a real threat. They now have a starter quality QB if Dak continues his me first approach. So JJ just made the team better and just raised the stakes.

    I used to be a big Dak fan but clearly he’s more worried about $$$$$ than titles. . . . and his agent is short sighted. Dak wins a SB with a star on his helmet, he takes a YUGE step toward the Hall of Fame.

    • By all accounts Dak isn’t holding out for more money. He wants a short term contract and the team wants a longer one.

    • Chuck Wright you sound silly!! Dak deserves to be paid, he has out played his contract and was one of the most productive QBs in the league. So with you saying he’s just worried about money that’s a lie and why not pay him when u payed everyone else. Andy Dalton is mediocre at best, he had one of the best receivers in AJ Green(when healthy) and still stunk up Cincy. No comparison to Dak. Pay Dak, he’s well with it.

      • M. Brown, Dalton had 1 great WR who was hurt more often than not. Dak has a great O-line, 1of the best RB’s in football and 2 of the best combo WR in the league. He was 8-8 and beat 1 team that had a winning record all year. He lost every big game this year including New Orleans Philly, Pat, Rams, and Bills, and now wants to be the highest paid QB in pro football on a short term deal so that he can put the cowboys ownership and fan through this drama in 4 years again. The guy makes ton of money off the field thanks to the STAR and I’ve never seem the cowboys have a problem signing and of their QB’s including Tony and Troy. Im not Happy with Dak, and cowboys may have to move on

  2. Good Signing one Year Deal For Veteran QB . Dalton Coming Home Needed Better Back Up For Sure !

  3. I could not agree with Chuck more. Andy Dalton has the pieces he needs to be successful in Dallas if it comes to that. My hope is that Dak signs for a reasonable amount but my fear is that he will get more than he is worth (in my opinion) and we could end up in cap hell. Feels like a different team with Mike McCarthy having a say instead of the clapper. Great draft, great job signing Dalton. I can’t wait to see the BOYS!

  4. I agree with Chuck! Dak and his agent will consider the possibility Dalton could win with the Cowboys offense.

  5. Andy Dalton is a good quarterback. The Bengals ownership did not spend the money on its players. It is a team game. Dak is not worth 30 plus million dollars. I am a Ravens fan.

  6. A cynic would say this:
    Suppose Dak winds up on a really sub par team because of his demands now. I hope its a bad enough team that his hopes of winning it all will never be realized.
    An optimist says this:
    C’mon Jerry. The man played out his entire rookie contract without any serious injury. Never been in trouble off the field. He was thrust into starting for America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys. Consider what you have already paid him paired with what you should pay him and you still got bang for your buck.

  7. Adding Dalton is a good move. If Dak holds out it won’t cripple the team. Honestly, I am not convinced Prescott cares where he ends up playing just as long as he gets the money he wants.

  8. You are correct, his leverage has been altered. This is a chess move, not checkers here jerry is playing. Dak seeing his backup stable gave him all leverage here. But now having experience in the stable will have him thinking things through. I miss the days where championships and gold jackets were more goal than money. You win, you get paid regardless. Dak is more ego than wins. For god sake $31 million dollars.

  9. I understand why the comments are trending towards Dak hate, but I believe that hate is misguided. I don’t believe Dak is your typical “ME” pro athlete. I think its more about the yrs than the amount.

  10. Dalton is going to be very challenged to run Moore’s offense. Moore’s offense requires the QB to be very active and mobile. Go watch Bengal games and you see Dalton is very immobile, dropping back and standing in one spot and just getting sacked if anyone breaks through. Dalton does not run, does not throw on the move and does not do option plays. Maybe Dalton has such abilities but his few runs look like a guy very uncomfortable moving with the ball. Other than name recognition, it is hard to see Dalton talent wise in the Dallas system.

  11. Glad to get a Texas boy with lots of pro football knowledge and experience. Please let Mr. Rush find another team where he has a chance to be a real No. 2.
    Rush is a good guy, and we wish him only good luck for the future.
    Dak is OK, just OK! I’d much rather have Dak than Newton or Winston. If Dak would think about what an opportunity he has in front of him, he pwould fire his agent, if he really has an agent, sign the damn contract, which far exceeds his success level, and his abilities.
    Then get his mind ready to go get us a Super Bowl trophy!
    You’re a pretty good leader Dak, and you’re tough, and I like those qualities. But, you ain’t no Tom Brady or Drew Brees, yet!!! At your age, you should try very hard to be realistic with yourself, about yourself.
    Stop listening to your agent who only cares about his share if your money, your family and your friends, who will always tell you daily just how great you are, and how bad Dallas needs you.
    Believe when I tell you , Matt Stafford could come in here with Mike McCarthy and the teammates you have and get Dallas to the Super Bowl this year!
    You’re not stupid. Use your head. Run your own life!
    We cheer for you, and wish you happiness and lots of success.

  12. As I commented weeks ago, Prescott had the leverage,, because we had a SUB PAR backup QB in Rush. Now this signing changes all that, in a good way, in favor of Jones and Cowboys and real Fans. Real Fans, who care about our TEAM, see Prescott for what he is or what he has become. At one time Prescott claimed it was all about loving the GAME. Now it seems to be all about the MONEY. Prescott IS NOT IRREPLACEABLE as he and others think and have commented on.

    Prescott is a greedy, self-centered A$$hole. Some Prescott lovers say Prescott detractors are jealous and/or obsessed. In reality, it is all about wanting to see our team WIN. UTIMATELY WIN CHAMPIONSHIP! We see Prescott now as HURTING OUR TEAM. Fan support the team. Support = Money. To simplify for the Prescott Lovers, that money goes to the team, and then, to the players as part of the team. NFL is a product, like any other product. People can chose to like the product or not. Fans have a very big say in this equation. Every time a fan goes to a game, or buys a hotdog at the game, or buys a jersey, or turns on a TV to watch a game, you are indirectly PAYING the players. THE MONEY DOES NOT JUST FALL FROM THE SKY INTO JERRY’S BANK, FOLKS.

    So the Fans have every RIGHT to voice an opinion about the performance or lack thereof of a product, just as we review automobiles or computers.

    Right now, Prescott takes in TENS OF MILLIONS of $$$ with endorsements for being QB of AMERICA’S TEAM. Not something that would remotely happen if he played for the Bengals or the Bills. LAST Sept., Cowboys offered Prescott $33 million a year (rumored up to $34), $105 Guaranteed. More than generous for a QB that has ONE PLAYOFF WIN to his name in FOUR YEARS.
    Now that is not enough for him. He fancies himself as the best QB in the league. Hilariously STUPID. NOT REALITY, BUT FINE, WE DON’T REALLY NEED YOU. Go to another team, lose all the endorsement MONEY that you love. Lose maybe the best offensive line, best WR trio, and best RB in the league. POUND SALT Prescott. Stop hurting my team.

    START Dalton. Problem solved. Don’t want a GREEDY, SELF-CENTERED, HYPOCRITE A$$HOLE on my team.

  13. Allright! The Cowboys finally sign an alternate qb who
    can do more than orchestrate losses. Andy Dalton
    can take them to the playoffs. If everything jells, the new
    OL, the new WR, the new DL and DBs, if Dalton gets
    hot at the end of the season, he could go all the way.
    So could Prescott, but Prescott is being disserved by
    his reps who think he’s better than he really is. Dak’s
    reps think they have the Cowboys by the short hairs
    and can hold them up for ransom. I think the
    Cowboys just sent a message that they don’t.

    You got to match the contract with the results.
    Nobody is lining up to pay Dak, right now. Hel!,
    I don’t think there are many teams that see him
    as a starting qb, much less a franchise qb.
    Enough, sign Prescott for 30 to 32 mil, middle of
    the pack money for a middle of the pack qb. If and
    when he proves he’s all that, Then you pay him.
    Dak, get it done, get back to work and if you turn
    into All That, not only will the Cowboys pay you,
    but other teams will line up to pay you, too.

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