Former Bengal Andy Dalton’s days as a starting quarterback in the NFL might be over as the “Red Rifle” opted to head back home and take a backup role to Dak Prescott in Dallas for this season. Then, again, Prescott could always get hurt. Here are Dalton’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year as well as the Cowboys’ over/under win total.
Dalton’s final game as a member of the Bengals was a Week 17 upset last year, 33-23 over Cleveland. He completed 16-of-28 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Dalton’s ninth and final year as Bengals starter ended with 16 TD passes and 14 interceptions in 13 games. Dalton completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes (59.4) for the first time since his rookie season in 2011. His 6.61 YPA was also his lowest since his rookie year.
Dalton was under contract for $17.5 million for 2020 but it wasn’t guaranteed. The Bengals finished 2-14 last year and earned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. They used that on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the Heisman winner. Thus, Dalton’s fate was sealed with the team and he was released after Cincinnati couldn’t find a trade partner.
The Bengals had asking for a third-round pick in exchange for the Red Rifle, and that was a ridiculously high price. The Bears were reportedly looking at a potential trade for Dalton. Chicago instead opted to deal a fourth-round pick to Jacksonville for quarterback Nick Foles on March 31.
“There were several different factors,” said Dalton of a trade that never happened. “This year there were a good amount of quarterbacks that were available. I think it would have worked out differently if I had been a free agent when the new league year started. I was still under contact and that hurt me. I’m sure teams knew they were going to take a quarterback No. 1 and they would release me and there was no reason to rush into anything.”
Dalton will never get the credit he deserves but he was a pretty darn good quarterback over his career in Cincinnati as a second-round pick in the 2011 draft. That season, he and AJ Green broke NFL records for completions and yards for a rookie quarterback/receiver combination. Dalton became the first rookie NFL quarterback to win nine games and throw 20 touchdowns.
Dalton made 133 starts in his nine-year run with Cincinnati and led the team to the playoffs from 2011 to 2015. He became the only quarterback to lead the Bengals to five consecutive playoff berths, and one of five QBs in league history to lead his team to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons.
The former TCU star had a career regular-season winning percentage of .534, the best of any Bengals quarterback with 25 or more starts. He also holds these franchise records: 204 touchdown passes, 2,757 completions, 87.5 career passer rating, 28 300-yard passing games, 20 fourth-quarter comebacks and 24 game-winning drives.
He also stands second in career passing yards (31,594) and career completion percentage (62.0). Further, he holds and the team’s single-season records for passing yards (4293 in 2013), touchdown passes (33 in ’13) and passer rating (106.3 in ’15).
Dalton’s 31,594 career passing yards are the most from the 2011 NFL Draft class and his 22 rushing scores are the fifth-most in the 2011 draft class and the most in franchise history by a quarterback. Dalton made 77 straight starts for Cincinnati at one point, a team record. The previous mark had been 61, posted by Boomer Esiason from 1985-89.
In early May, the Cowboys signed him to a one-year deal where Dalton is set to earn $3 million guaranteed in 2020 with incentives that could get him to $7 million. Dalton wanted to return home to the Dallas/Fort Worth area during the coronavirus pandemic even though he has no chance of starting with the Cowboys thanks to Prescott. But Dalton easily becomes one of the best backups in the NFL, and quarterback injuries certainly are known to happen. Dalton is in a great spot to succeed if Prescott is hurt.