Andy Dalton is returning home.
Released by the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday, Dalton agreed to a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced Saturday. The quarterback’s deal has a base value of $3 million and could be worth up to $7 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Before being selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, Dalton played at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. He lives in Dallas, which means he will not have to move his family during an offseason that has been made uncertain due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many assumed Dalton, 32, would be in position to find a spot with a less secure starter than Dak Prescott, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars or New England Patriots, but he opted to remain close to home.
Cincinnati drafted LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick last week, making Dalton expendable. Dalton was set to earn $17.7 million in the final season of a six-year, $96 million contract. In nine seasons with the Bengals, Dalton had a 70-61-2 record and helped them to the postseason in each of his first five seasons, but he was unable to win a playoff game. He holds the franchise record for touchdown passes with 204 and is second in passing yards (31,594), but he was benched after an 0-8 start to the 2019 season.
He returned to the starting spot for the final five games and recorded both of Cincinnati’s victories. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Dalton’s 40.1 Total QBR in 2019 ranked 27th out of 30 qualifying quarterbacks.
The addition of Dalton does not affect the Cowboys’ feelings toward Prescott, who was given the exclusive franchise tag in March at a cost of $31.4 million. The Cowboys have wanted to sign Prescott to a multiyear contract since last offseason but have not been able to come to terms on a deal that would make him one of the highest-paid — if not the highest-paid — quarterbacks in the NFL.
Prescott, 26, has not missed a game in his career, but the Cowboys viewed the opportunity to add Dalton as too good to pass up. Cooper Rush has served as Prescott’s backup the past three seasons, but he has thrown just three passes. As a restricted free agent, Rush is set to make $2.1 million in 2020.
The Cowboys also have quarterbacks Clayton Thorson, who spent last season on the practice squad, and Ben DiNucci on the roster. The Cowboys took DiNucci in the seventh round of last week’s draft.
Dalton is a three-time Pro Bowler, and Prescott has made it twice in his four seasons. The only other NFL team with multiple quarterbacks who have each made multiple Pro Bowls is the Falcons; starter Matt Ryan has made four Pro Bowls, and Matt Schaub has made two. The Saints, Ravens and Bears also each have multiple quarterbacks who have made it at least once.