With three straight wins, the Dallas Cowboys (6-9) have a chance win the NFC East. They need to beat the New York Giants in Week 17, and the Philadelphia Eagles have to beat Washington Sunday night to make it happen. In concert with that run to try to salvage the season, Andy Dalton has been playing well.
Dalton has multiple touchdown passes in four straight games, and in five of the last six. Over the six game-span, where the Cowboys are 4-2, he has completed over 67 percent of his passes with a 13:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 101.9 passer rating.
Dalton of course only signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys last offseason. So he’ll be a free agent, with the possibility he’ll find a starting job for 2021.
These five teams could have Andy Dalton on their radar for a starting gig next year.
5 teams Andy Dalton could start for in 2021
5. Chicago Bears
The Bears really should have made a move to add Dalton last offseason. But they just couldn’t wait long enough, and instead traded for Nick Foles.
Mitch Trubisky might be making a case to be brought back, saving the jobs of head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace along the way. But the Bears have to aim differently for a quarterback this offseason, and Dalton should be an option.
4. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers can move on from Jimmy Garoppolo easily this offseason, no matter what professions of faith head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to keep going back to. A significant move for a replacement could come (Kirk Cousins? Carson Wentz?), but it wouldn’t have to be that way.
Dalton is a capable, reliable veteran. During his entire run with the Cincinnati Bengals (2011-2019), he missed eight regular season starts due to injury and those ailments were pretty random (broken right thumb making a tackle after an interception-2015; injured right thumb-2018). With the durability issues Garoppolo has had, the 49ers should have Dalton on their list if they’re looking for a quarterback this offseason.
3. Denver Broncos
Broncos GM John Elway, if only to try to talk himself into it, has expressed optimism about Drew Lock. But the harsh reality is he’s been erratic, and he’s 8-9 as a starter now.
At minimum, the Broncos need a veteran quarterback who can mentor Lock. Going further, adding someone who can legitimately push him for the starting job might be an order. Dalton could be the veteran guy to win the job, and force Elway to give up the ghost that Lock is a franchise quarterback. The skill position pieces assembled in Denver are very interesting.
2. New England Patriots
As speculation over how the Patriots would replace Tom Brady percolated last offseason, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah unveiled Bill Belichick’s notes describing what an NFL quarterback should be.
Dalton can be described using a lot of those same words above. Of course the Patriots eventually took a chance on Cam Newton, which has not worked out well. The Patriots have the cap space to make a big move for a quarterback, via trade or free agency, or they could draft someone highly. Dalton would not register on the bold or exciting move scale, but don’t dismiss a possible fit in New England.
1. Washington Football Team
Washington can win the NFC East this year, simply by winning Week 17 as previously mentioned. But they don’t know who their quarterback will be next year. Alex Smith is older and carries natural questions about his future health. Kyle Allen is no one’s idea of a solid starter, and after a tumultuous run Dwayne Haskins was waived on Monday.
Head coach Ron Rivera has given a big dose of credibility to an organization that needs it. So that he had no patience for Haskins’ on or off-field nonsense is not surprising, and Washington will have some options to secure a quarterback via free agency, a trade or the draft.
Rivera also installed a win-now mentality right off the bat (see the pursuit of Amari Cooper in free agency last offseason). Dalton is just the kind of mature veteran quarterback Rivera is sure to want, even if they follow that signing by drafting a quarterback in April.