Exclusive: Cowboys Contract Details - QB Dalton Must Win Super Bowl to Get $7 Million

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - Long-time Cincinnati Bengals starter Andy Dalton is coming to the Dallas Cowboys as a threat to an incumbent quarterback.

No, not Dak Prescott. Cooper Rush.

This signing of (Dalton) is "not about Dak's (contract),'' a team source told us on Saturday, shortly after agreeing to a deal with the free agent Dalton that has a base value of $3 million and could be worth up to $7 million.

This is being billed wrongly in some circles as "a $7 million deal.'' The facts of the math tell a vastly different story.

Dalton, who was selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2011 Draft after having starred at TCU and still has family ties in DFW (including a new $5 million home in University Park), will, as noted above, come with a $3 million price tag - and just a $3 million cap hit.

How can he make the other "potential'' $4 million? Like so:

*One example: Dalton would have to play 50 percent of the snaps over the course of the entire season - regular season and playoffs - to reach his first big bonus, of $1 million.

*Another level of partial play-time and playoff success would get him another bonus.

*One more level of partial play-time and playoff success would get him an additional bonus.

*And finally, to earn the entire $7 million? Andy Dalton would have to play an active role in a Cowboys' Super Bowl win.

If he has to step in for Prescott for any length of time, the investment in Dalton, 32 (who in nine seasons with the Bengals had a 70-61-2 record and helped them to the postseason in each of his first five years) will be well-spent. But forget the Dak comparisons and conspiracy theories; Dak will eventually either sign his franchise-tag tender of $31 million for one year or will come to a long-term agreement with Dallas that can pay him in the range of $35 million APY over at least four years.

The Dalton contract comparison is appropriate for Cooper Rush.

Rush, Dallas' young No. 2 QB, was never able to prove himself on the field (in large part due to Prescott's iron-man presence). But he was already going to be pushed by youngsters Ben DiNucci and Clayton Thorson. Now he's been nudged off the roster - by Dalton, who was only out of work because Cincinnati had just paid him $17 million for 2019 and is turning the page to top overall NFL Draft pick Joe Burrow.

Cooper Rush recently signed his non-guaranteed tender with Dallas totaling $2.1 million. That's just $900,000 more than Dalton's new base salary and 2020 cap hit.

That's right: The real "new expense'' for Dallas to vault from Rush to Dalton is $900,000.

“We’re all motivated to win,'' COO Stephen Jones said recently. "We certainly want Dak to be happy (contractually), but we also want to surround him with great football players.”

The Cowboys just did that. For themselves and for Dak ... for just $900,000. Unless Dalton makes $7 million - in which case he'll have just helped Dallas to a Super Bowl victory.