Andy Dalton is returning home.
Dalton, who was released by the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday, agreed to a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced Saturday. The quarterback's deal has a base value of $3 million and could be worth up to $7 million, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Before being selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, Dalton played at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. He lives in Dallas and will not have to move his family during an offseason that has been made uncertain by the coronavirus pandemic.
Many assumed Dalton, 32, would be in position to find a spot with a less secure starter than Dak Prescott, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars or New England Patriots, but he opted to remain close to home.
Cincinnati drafted LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick last week, making Dalton expendable. Dalton was set to earn $17.7 million in the final season of a six-year, $96 million contract.
In nine seasons with the Bengals, Dalton had a 70-61-2 record and helped them reach the postseason in each of his first five seasons, but he was unable to win a playoff game. He holds the franchise record for touchdown passes with 204 and is second in passing yards (31,594), but he was benched after an 0-8 start to the 2019 season.
He returned to the starting spot for the final five games and recorded both of Cincinnati's victories. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Dalton's 40.1 Total QBR in 2019 ranked 27th out of 30 qualifying quarterbacks.
Dalton thanked Cincinnati in an Instagram post on Sunday, writing: "Thank you Cincinnati for the past 9 years. There are countless memories that will be with me forever. I am thankful for the friendships, my teammates, coaches, and the organization. Y'all pushed me to be a better everyday. Thank you to the Cincinnati community for supporting the @[AJD Foundation]. We could not have made the impact we did without y'all. Thank you [JJ Dalton, his wife] for always supporting me and being by my side every step of the way. I am blessed that we are on this journey together. We will always cherish our time in Cincinnati. Who Dey!"
The addition of Dalton should not affect the Cowboys' feelings toward Prescott, who was given the exclusive franchise tag in March at a cost of $31.4 million. The Cowboys have wanted to sign Prescott to a multiyear contract since last offseason but have not been able to come to terms on a deal that would make him one of the highest-paid -- if not the highest-paid -- quarterbacks in the NFL.
Prescott, 26, has not missed a game in his career, but the Cowboys viewed the opportunity to add Dalton as too good to pass up. Cooper Rush served as Prescott's backup the past three seasons but threw just three passes. The Cowboys waived Rush, who was set to make $2.1 million in 2020 as a restricted free agent, on Monday with the signing of Dalton becoming official.
Dalton is a three-time Pro Bowler, and Prescott has made it twice in his four seasons. The only other NFL team with multiple quarterbacks who have each made multiple Pro Bowls is the Falcons; starter Matt Ryan has made four Pro Bowls, and Matt Schaub has made two. The Saints, Ravens and Bears also each have multiple quarterbacks who have made it at least once.