The second that Dak Prescott went down against the Giants, the 2020 Cowboys season was effectively over. While their franchise quarterback could help them overcome injuries to studs like Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, losing Prescott was going to put this team in too big a hole to climb out of.
But after watching a full 9 starts from backup quarterback Andy Dalton, some are speculating he could be seen as a bridge starter somewhere else in the league. Dalton, in an offense loaded with passing weapons, threw over 2,000 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions in 11 game appearances.
There were ups and downs, and his advanced numbers are even less friendly than those raw numbers, but overall Dalton played about as well as we could’ve hoped as a backup quarterback. Dalton is below average for a starter, fails to raise the ceiling of the offense, and needs a nearly perfect protection situation to raise your offense’s floor. And, in games like that week 16 victory over Philadelphia, Dalton got all of the help he needed and he thrived.
Other weeks…not so much.
Now Andy Dalton enters free agency with hopes of becoming a full time starter once again. But will his wish be fulfilled?
Pro Football Focus released their free agency rankings this week, and were much less bullish than Dalton on the veteran’s chances of starting once again.
“Dalton signed a one-year, $3 million deal to return to the Dallas area and serve as the backup to Dak Prescott, but he was thrust into a starting role in the middle of Week 5. To make matters more interesting, future Hall of Fame left tackle Tyron Smith and starting right tackle La’el Collins were not available for a single snap with Dalton. He did his best to keep the ship afloat and certainly proved he could make a great backup for a team going forward, but odds are his days of starting in the NFL are very much over.”
Dalton has been more than clear in his intentions this offseason, though, telling DallasCowboys.com that he feels he has “a lot of good football left.” He also said he feels he can still play and help a team win, though I’d argue his best spot would be back in Dallas as Prescott’s backup.
Dalton is going to give this a go, and given the quarterback turnover we are expecting to see around the league, it’s possible he finds a landing spot where he can compete for a starting job. Maybe, for example, with the Denver Broncos as they figure out what to do with Drew Lock.
It’s hard to imagine a team hoping he wins their starting job, though.