Dallas Cowboys: Is Andy Dalton a threat to Dak Prescott?

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys signed Andy Dalton as a backup this offseason, but could he actually supplant Dak Prescott if the offense struggles?

The signing of former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is considered by many to be one of the best offseason moves made by the Dallas Cowboys. In signing the 32-year-old to a one-year deal worth a base salary of $3 million, Dallas immediately upgraded their backup quarterback position at a great value.

But in doing so, the Cowboys may have also inadvertently caused some friction in the quarterbacks room. Or perhaps it was an intentional message sent Dak Prescott‘s way. With Prescott and the Cowboys front office a stand still over a long term contract, there’s the idea that the Dalton signing serves as a reminder that perhaps not everyone is convinced Prescott is the only man for the job.

While Prescott may feel he’s worth $35 million a year, there are others who believe he’s a product of the talent around him and that perhaps he could be replaced. No one has come out and said this, of course, but the underlying message is there.

Obviously, having a capable backup is imperative if you want to succeed in this league. The quarterback is the most important player on the field and if he goes down, oftentimes so does your season.

But as I’ve mentioned in the past, the questions surrounding Dak Prescott have nothing to do with his durability. In fact, his ability to stay healthy is one of the most consistent things about him.

The questions regarding Dak Prescott are whether or not he’s truly an elite, top-five quarterback. If he is, he’ll prove it this season and earn his pay day. If not, the Cowboys seem to have a backup plan.

Injury scenario aside, does Andy Dalton pose a credible threat to Dak Prescott’s starting job? Some may scoff at the idea that Dalton, who struggled mightily in 2019 and hasn’t won a playoff game, could supplant Prescott and become the Cowboys starter; but, if if you look at his body of work with the Bengals over nine season, you’ll see that Dalton actually has an impressive resume.

He has a career 70-61-2 record as a starter with over 31,000 passing yards, 204 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 87.5. He’s proven he can win when surrounded by talented playmakers, which the Cowboys have no shortage of. He may not have won a playoff game but it’s not like the Cowboys are making deep runs under Prescott either.

So if the Dallas Cowboys come out of the gate slow and Dak Prescott struggles early on, is it possible that Mike McCarthy pulls the trigger and goes with Andy Dalton? It’s possible, I suppose, but it’s a move that would come with intense scrutiny.

I don’t think anyone believes moving to Dalton would be a significant upgrade over Prescott but it could serve as a potential spark should the Cowboys struggle. It’s not unheard of for teams to gamble on their backup quarterback but that’s usually the case if you have an aging veteran and a rookie waiting in the wings — not a 32-year-old veteran.

At the same time, the Cowboys are in a very precarious situation, to say the least. They believe they’ve got a roster capable of making a deep run in the playoffs. They feel Dak Prescott is a starting caliber quarterback but not to the point where they are willing to mortgage their future on him just yet.

They’ve got a new head coach in Mike McCarthy who has no history with Prescott and therefore no attachment or commitment. And now they have a veteran quarterback who, quite possibly, could put up similar numbers — or possibly even better depending on who you ask.

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Until the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott agree to a long-term contract that solidifies his spot as the starting quarterback, I think anyone they bring in, Andy Dalton included, could be viewed as a potential replacement. The starting quarterback position is Prescott’s to lose.