FRISCO - Almost immediately after his signing with the Dallas Cowboys last spring, Andy Dalton suggested in an exclusive interview with me that he was quite likely using his one-year deal as a springboard to return to being an NFL starter, as he was for a decade in Cincinnati.
A year later, is Dalton coveted as a starter? Or as an "elite bus-driver'' backup?
The examination outside of Dallas starts in Denver, where the Broncos are said to be looking for veteran QB help while at the same time not wanting to give up on young Drew Lock.
Our SI colleagues in Denver pass along a note that general manager John Elway and head coach Vic Fangio are reportedly "pushing for [Lock] to get another year" under new GM George Paton, who's likely to sign his veteran backup.
As we often say about players at The Star when there is coaching change, they sometimes need a "sponsor'' - a higher-up in the building who believes in them. New GM Paton has no tie to the 2019 second-round pick Lock.
And Mile High Huddle then tosses out some educated-guessed names: Philip Rivers, Mitchell Trubisky, Ryan Fitzpatrick and ... Andy Dalton, with the Broncos' purpose being this:
"Enabling Lock to blossom (or bust) in a deciding third year.''
What does Dalton, 31, say about his thoughts on 2021?
“Absolutely,” Dalton said, expressing his view on his ability to remain an NFL starter. “I feel like I can play, and I feel like I can help a team win. Hopefully, with the film that I put out this year, people see that and value me in that way. I obviously feel like I still got a lot of good football left, and we’ll see how it all plays out.”
You see the problem with the Denver scenario: I do not think that Dalton's goal is to be a 2021 backup - but if he is limited to that as his only option, I think he would just as well accept such a role in Dallas, where as he told me, he has a fantastic home that he and wife J.J. built in the Park Cities a few years ago. Indeed, being "home'' in DFW was part of the point of him signing with the Cowboys for just $3 million in 2020 - he didn't want to leave his wife and three young children during a COVID time.
Well, we're still in a "COVID time,'' are we not?
PFF actually projects the following: "Broncos sign Dalton for two years, $10 million: $8 million total guaranteed, $6 million fully guaranteed at signing.''
Maybe so. But that sort of number, especially when a "hometown discount'' is factored in, would not be a Dallas budget-buster. And the Cowboys would like him to return, if affordable.
Would Andy Dalton leave Dallas, where he is a valued backup to Dak Prescott, to move - maybe without his precious family - to Denver, to be a backup to Drew Lock?
That idea doesn't add up as well as the idea of Dalton and Dallas remaining paired in 2021.
CONTINUE READING: Where Do Dak & Dalton Cowboys Rank In NFL Top 100 Free Agents?