What does Andy Dalton’s deal with Dallas mean for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys? - Jon Machota, The Athletic
The Cowboys made headlines late Saturday evening when it was announced that former Bengals and TCU quarterback Andy Dalton would be signing with Dallas. What does it mean for Dak Prescott?
“Obviously, we have great love for Dak,” McCarthy said last month. “But if you go back to Ron Wolf in the early 90s and what was established (in Green Bay), the ability to keep the most important position in football and develop that quarterback room. You can see the value not only it has for your football team if the starter is injured, but also the value it can bring to your team as younger quarterbacks move on.”
In Dalton, a loaded offense now has a proven starter as a backup in case anything happens to Prescott. Although Prescott has not missed a start in 64 NFL games, he did injure his throwing shoulder in Week 15 last season on a QB keeper. Prescott struggled the following week, but he was never going to miss that game in Philadelphia with the division on the line.
The Cowboys’ quarterback will have plenty to work with. Not only does Dallas continue to have a talented offensive line with standouts like Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins, but it has one of the NFL’s top running backs in Ezekiel Elliott and arguably the league’s top receiving trio in four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper, 1,000-yard receiver Michael Gallup and recent first-round pick CeeDee Lamb. It should again be one of the league’s top offenses in 2020.
Archer explains why the signing of Dalton is for depth purposes and not anything else.
In 2007-08, they had Brad Johnson as Romo’s No. 2, and he made $5.5 million. From 2009 to ‘11, it was Jon Kitna, and he made nearly $8 million. In 2012-13, it was Kyle Orton, and he made $7.25 million. Johnson was a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and took two different teams to the playoffs. Kitna and Orton led teams to the playoffs.
The Cowboys were willing to pay a premium on the position, strangely, until Romo started to get hurt more. They went with Brandon Weeden in 2014 and ’15 on a low-cost deal. He lost his four starts as Romo’s replacement, including three in 2015, which was a disastrous year for the franchise with Romo starting four games because of a twice-broken collarbone.
The Cowboys would be extremely happy if Dalton never saw the field for any meaningful snaps in 2020.
But just in case, they prepared themselves for the possibility.
King really, really, really likes the Dalton signing, and adds a relevant Covid prespective.
I think that is a brilliant signing by the Cowboys, getting Andy Dalton for one year between $3 million and $7 million. You might think I’m overstating “brilliant,” but Dalton is a solid football guy, a football-loving, shut-up-and-play guy who will be good either playing or backing up and supporting Dak Prescott. He won’t be great. But tell me which backups in the NFL are great? And tell me which backups in the NFL quarterbacked their teams to the playoffs five times? Smart signing, particularly when the Prescott fate is so uncertain. If Prescott boycotts the offseason program in his contract stalemate and Dalton is there every day, who knows? Would Mike McCarthy dare start Dalton when the real games start? I doubt it, but it’s a storyline to follow.
I think, if I ran an NFL team, and I really was skeptical about my backup quarterback’s ability to play a few winning games, I’d concentrate on finding a competent backup, and now. What happens if you play games and the starter is asymptomatic but tests positive for the virus one week and has to be quarantined for 14 days? You can call that a ridiculous suggestion, but lots of things that seems ridiculous two months ago are fact today.
Cowboys’ top QBs are Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton, in that order; why it will stay that way - Tom Gatto, Sporting News
Dalton will stay behind Prescott on the depth chart, despite what you might read on social media.
Prescott is 26 and he’s coming off career highs in completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns. The Cowboys were sixth in the NFL in scoring offense last season. Dalton has playoff experience, but he’s also 32 and coming off his worst overall statistical season. Yes, the Bengals were lousy under first-year coach Zac Taylor, but Dalton had a hand in that lousiness.
And if you’re into passer rating, Prescott’s was more than 21 points higher (99.7-78.3). Apples to orange helmets? Could be, but that’s still a relevant gulf.
Think of this, too: Jones retained Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator after replacing head coach Jason Garrett with Mike McCarthy. Jerry chose continuity with Moore and Prescott over McCarthy’s philosophy. Even if you think Prescott and Dalton are just game managers, Prescott will still be the better one given his experience in Moore’s system and his status as a team leader.
What kind of ripple effects will this signing have across the league?
So what are the ripple effects of Dalton landing in Dallas?
1. The Patriots Are Indeed Going With Jarrett Stidham
The idea of Dalton to the Patriots has lingered as a possibility through the offseason, and it naturally picked up new steam after they didn’t draft a quarterback and he was cut. But New England never seemed to show substantial interest, and now it feels certain Bill Belichick is all-in on Stidham as Tom Brady’s immediate successor.
So, what happens with Cooper Rush? It appears that Rush will have his hands full if he wants to remain in Dallas.
With Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton cemented in their spots as the team’s top two quarterbacks, the third slot is the most attainable one for four-year man Cooper Rush.
The thing about that job is that if you were to put yourself in the position that the Cowboys find themselves in, it makes much more sense to devote that spot to recently-drafted Ben DiNucci. Dallas took DiNucci in the seventh round of last week’s draft and while he was taken near the end of the overall class, they obviously valued him enough to spend a draft pick on him as opposed to risking him to priority free agency.
Why does it make more sense to carry DiNucci than Rush? If either of these players are at best your third quarterback then, not only does it make sense to carry the cheaper one (seventh-round DiNucci as opposed to $2.1M Rush) but it is also more logical to hold on to the player that you have more roster control over. Dallas will have to figure out the Cooper Rush situation in 2021 if they go down that path where DiNucci is just beginning his rookie contract.
What do league executives think about the Cowboys’s draft?
“Dallas had no intention of taking a receiver,” an exec said. “Then the receiver who was arguably the top one in the class (CeeDee Lamb) falls to them. OK, they are going to be in 11 personnel a lot. It makes sense, them taking him.”
Unlikely as Lamb’s availability at No. 17 might have seemed, owner Jerry Jones said he estimated there was a one percent chance Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs would be available when Dallas selected in the second round.
“I would have put money on the same thing,” an exec said. “Very, very unlikely, especially with Damon Arnette going at 19 and Noah Igbinoghene going at the bottom of the first.”
How does the NFC East stand following the 2020 NFL Draft?
Offseason in a word
Dallas: Different. Things got predictable under the previous coaching staff, especially on defense. The new staff hasn’t been on the field with the team yet, but they’re saying all the right things. The 2020 Cowboys are expected to be more aggressive on the back end and more multiple in their pass-rushing plan. While Kellen Moore remains the offensive coordinator, Mike McCarthy will wield significant influence. Drafting CeeDee Lamb alone should mean several new offensive wrinkles. The special teams unit is expected to be much better under new coordinator John Fassel. Then again, it would be difficult to get much worse.
With CeeDee Lamb on the field, the Cowboys’ offense might be as ‘Dak friendly’ as it can get - Calvin Watkins, SportsDay
The addition of CeeDee Lamb should mean big things for the Dallas passing attack.
Lamb brings an incredible amount of athletic ability. Draft experts believe he can make plays from different spots on the field, particularly from the slot, an area of concern for the Cowboys.
“The first part for us, as coaches, is to make sure we are creating numerous opportunities for everybody through schematic design,” new Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said last weekend. “Kellen Moore has had a lot of fun [during the draft] on a few new wrinkles we’re looking to work [on]. It’s really just which way you emphasize.”
The Cowboys were working on improving things for Prescott going back two years. They made a trade at the deadline in 2018 to acquire wide receiver Amari Cooper. The trade meant the days of barely throwing for more than 200 yards a game were over. Over a 16-game stretch, from the middle of the 2017 season to just before the Cooper trade in October 2018, Prescott averaged just 190.1 yards per game with 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Then the trade occurred. After only a few practices, Prescott raved about his new receiver. He could tell the difference an elite vs. average receiver provided.
How will the Cowboys’ draft class translate to more winning? Rookies on the field, for starters. - Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
Will we see more rookies on the field this year than in years past?
CeeDee Lamb says he doesn’t mind playing the slot at all, which is good, because it would be difficult to sit one of last season’s 1,000-yard receivers. For that matter, Cooper can play anywhere, giving Kellen Moore some flexibility.
Given the possibilities, Lamb looks like a walk-in starter. Expect second-round pick Diggs to start a significant number of games as well. He might already be their best corner. Let’s say 13 starts.
Wouldn’t count on Neville Gallimore to start any games in the defensive line with the additions of Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy and the return of Antwaun Woods. He’ll make the rotation, though. Same could be true of Reggie Robinson, who seems destined for mostly special teams initially. Bradlee Anae, the defensive end, is a long shot for the rotation, too.
The player best suited to take this rookie class over the top is probably Biadasz. If a fourth-round pick ends up replacing Travis Frederick, it could mean 45 starts for the rookies.
There is still a notable free agent available...
The Cowboys are still waiting for the reinstatement of Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith, and while both seem very likely, they can’t bank on just that going into the new season. Coming off of the right edge, Griffen would more than likely give the Cowboys their starting defensive end opposite DeMarcus Lawrence in 2020 after losing last season’s sack leader Robert Quinn to the Chicago Bears in free agency.
Currently, the Cowboys have about 10.5 million in cap space according to the Over the Cap. Griffen won’t demand a salary that’s too high after a decade of service in the league so from a financial standpoint the Cowboys could make it work.
Even at 32, Griffen is still productive and would instantly add even more firepower to an already overhauled defensive front in Dallas. The Cowboys have aced this offseason so far, but adding Griffen would take it into another orbit.