Could the Dallas Cowboys replace Dak Prescott with Andy Dalton?

Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, NFL Free Agency

Andy Dalton wasn’t a free agent for very long, but was it the best move for him to sign a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys for 2020?

In less than a week, Andy Dalton has found a new home with the Dallas Cowboys.

The former Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback makes the trek back to his native Texas after nine quality years in Southern Ohio. Dalton made three trips to the Pro Bowl with the Bengals, leading them to the AFC playoffs in each of his first five years in the league. However, a 2-14 team record last fall and the prospect of drafting Joe Burrow No. 1 led to his eventual Bengals release.

Dalton smartly opted to sign a one-year deal worth $7 million to play for “America’s Team”. While the Cowboys weren’t one of the most likely landing spots for “The Red Rifle”, here is why playing in Big D is the best move for Dalton, now and in the future.

In college, Dalton starred for the TCU Horned Frogs under legendary head coach Gary Patterson in nearby Fort Worth. Dalton grew up in suburban Houston and nearly quarterbacked his high school team to a state championship as a senior. In short, Dalton has had nothing but great football memories in the Lone Star State. Texas is a football environment he thrives in.

Given that he’s playing for a team with no state income tax, that $7 million will go further than it would have in Ohio. Not a bad sum of money to hold a clipboard, back up Dak Prescott, and learn from Mike McCarthy. He faces absolutely no pressure. His next chance to start will probably be elsewhere in 2021, but what if there is a chance it could be in Arlington?

Could Andy Dalton Replace Dak Prescott?

The obvious answer is a resounding no, but this is Jerry Jones we’re talking about. The wise choice for the Cowboys is to invest in their quarterback of the future. The idea that would be Dalton is a little misguided, as Prescott has more upside and a longer career ahead of him.

But again, Jerry Jones is at the wheel so adjectives like ‘obvious’, ‘wise’ and ‘sensical’ all get tossed out the window like an empty Big Gulp.

Prescott is about to be more under the microscope than he ever has at any point of his football career. The former fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State back in 2016 will likely have to play on the franchise tag this fall. If he stumbles, the Cowboys will have arguably the best backup in football to step in for him.

Add in that McCarthy wasn’t the coach who drafted Prescott and he’ll have no issues yanking him out of a game if he doesn’t play well. Prescott has mentioned he may skip out on OTAs if he’s not given a long-term deal. All this does is give a former franchise quarterback like Dalton all the first-team reps in Prescott’s potential absence. That will matter to McCarthy more than you’d think.

Even if Prescott plays well in 2020 on the tag, he might prove too expensive to keep around in Dallas long-term. If the Cowboys were to double Dalton’s salary on a new contract in 2021 for $14 million, it would still be less than what he made as the Bengals starter and well below what Prescott would command on the open market as a free agent.

Ultimately, this seems a smartly calculated move by Dalton. He stays close to home, doesn’t have to do much, and could fall ass backwards into starting for the Dallas Cowboys. It’s a move rich with Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans subtext.

Who knows what happens, but Dallas will certainly be newsworthy this upcoming season.

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