Have you ever seen this much excitement over a backup quarterback signing as we are all witnessing with Andy Dalton? Year after year, the former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback regularly ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to passing. He’s not terrible, but he’s also not fabulous. If you play fantasy football, he’s the guy you pick up if you’re desperate on your bye week because he’s always available. There is absolutely nothing exciting about him.
Dalton’s signing will cost the team $3 million, with a chance to earn up to $7 million based on incentives, which we can only presume are some playing time benchmarks should the Cowboys have a need to “break the glass in case of emergency.” It should be noted that the Cowboys have never needed to break that glass since Dak Prescott took over the starting quarterback gig in 2016 as he’s started all 64 games of his NFL career. There was this one time where he exited the game back with a hand injury in 2017 against the Washington Redskins, but the time he spent in the locker room was so minuscule that he was back on the field without missing a single offensive snap.
In fact, Cooper Rush has only thrown three passes since taking over the backup quarterback job three years ago. He’s only played on 11 total snaps over the past two seasons, and all of them were just handing the ball off to the running back in garbage time blowouts the Cowboys had over three different opponents. If you were to go by pay-for-play performance, Rush would be one of the most overpaid players on this team despite only averaging just over half a million these past three seasons. If you did that math, that comes out to $557,000 per pass attempt. But if things go as planned, that’s money the team is more than happy to throw away.
So, why are we so excited about signing Andy Dalton?
While this not a big signing, it symbolizes the Cowboys commitment towards putting themselves in the best possible situation they can for the upcoming season. The Cowboys are still doing Cowboys things. They re-signed Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100 million deal. And despite all the noise about Prescott’s unresolved contract situation, a long-term deal for him is coming.
The team also let three key players walk in free agency. Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, and Randall Cobb all got some really good deals on other teams, equating to over $100 million in guarantees coming from the Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, and Houston Texans respectively.
Instead of committing that kind of money to those players, the team has quietly invested a total of just $20 million in guarantees for six different players, who all just so happen to be former Pro Bowlers. That is money well spent.
When you combine that with the remarkable draft this team just pulled off, they are in a real happy place right now. The upside for this team is really high and involves deep post-season success. The team has also done a great job of raising the floor as reinforcements along the interior defensive line, an upgrade at safety, and now having one of the best backup quarterbacks on the roster have suddenly improved this team’s chances to handle any bumps in the road.
Losing Byron Jones is unpleasant, but replacing him with a ball-hawking rookie like Trevon Diggs is a pretty good consolation prize. Not having Randall Cobb in the slot is a bit downer, but any time you can supplement that with the nation’s best college wide receiver, that feels like a big win. And while Aldon Smith was in no way brought over to replace the valuable production of Robert Quinn, it’s never a bad thing to take low-cost risks on high upside guys.
Assuming Aldon Smith wears the star this season, here are the single-season career highs for any edge rusher who has ever played for the Cowboys:— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) May 3, 2020
1. DeMarcus Ware 20.0
2. Aldon Smith 19.5
3. Robert Quinn 19.0
If for some reason Prescott misses a game for the first time ever, the team now has a fighting chance as Dalton has enough ability to exploit his fantastic offensive weapons behind a fantastic offensive line to help this team win football games. He’s got your back, Dak.
The front office is reinvesting their big money into their stars, just like they’ve always done. Their ability to draft well allows them to replace more costly free agent losses with inexpensive rookie deals. Again, business as usual for Big D.
What’s different this year is the team is actually spending a little bit of money picking and choosing some valuable commodities to shore up this roster. They’re not breaking the bank by any means, but they are dabbling and you have to love the effort the team is making with these roster decisions.
It’s been one heckuva offseason for the Cowboys.