Andy Dalton

COVID-19 Latest: Bubble, Bengals, Dalton

With the NFL passing an in-case-of-emergency amended playoff bracket and having a tentative Week 18 in place in case games need to be rescheduled, the league is planning ahead. Its months-long anti-bubble stance remains, but the prospect of one taking place in the postseason has not been ruled out. The NFL will consider holding conference championship games at neutral-site bubbles, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Like the 16-team bracket, this would be a contingency plan. Should the NFL proceed with bubbles for its penultimate postseason round, Maske notes warm-weather cities would be the likely sites.

Here is the latest on the NFL’s navigation of the coronavirus pandemic:

  • As cases spike nationally, the NFL has seen a significant uptick as well this month. Forty-seven percent of the league’s positive coronavirus tests this season came during November’s first two weeks, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes. As such, the NFL is bracing for more COVID-related trouble after Thanksgiving. The league expects cases to surge after the holiday, with high-ranking execs informing Jones the bulk of its cases thus far this season occurred because of in-home gatherings. No games have been rescheduled since Week 7, but given the protocol adjustments and postseason contingency plan, the league appears to be preparing for postponements to re-emerge.
  • Beginning Saturday, all NFL teams will be thrust into the intensive COVID-19 protocol. The recently implemented higher-security format will be the new norm, per NFL.com’s Judy Battista. Positive tests were previously necessary to move teams into the intensive protocol — which calls for all meetings to be held virtually, masks to be worn at all times at team facilities and no player congregation to occur outside of teams’ headquarters — but the league’s Thanksgiving-related concerns have prompted precautions.
  • The Bengals were without four coaches during their Week 10 game against the Steelers and will be without three staffers this weekend as well. Cincinnati cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson, wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell and safeties coach Robert Livingston will not be with the team in Washington due to COVID-19 protocols, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Last week, the Bengals were without Jackson, Bicknell, linebackers coach Al Golden and senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner. Bengals DC Lou Anarumo will assume more responsibility this weekend, per the team, in overseeing the team’s defensive backs.
  • Former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will be back in the Cowboys‘ starting lineup this week, but he has not yet fully recovered from the coronavirus. The 10th-year veteran developed symptoms and has not fully regained his taste and smell senses, via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). Dalton’s wife and one of his sons also contracted the virus. The Cowboys activated Dalton from their reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/18/20

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Activated from IR: OL Phil Haynes
  • Placed on IR: CB Neiko Thorpe

Tennessee Titans

QB Injury Updates: Brees, Darnold, Minshew, Lock, Dalton

There have been a lot of short-term quarterback injuries recently, and we’ve got a batch of updates to pass along. We heard earlier Monday that Drew Brees is dealing with several cracked ribs as well as a collapsed lung, and now we have a better idea how long he’ll be sidelined. 2-3 weeks is apparently the “most optimistic recovery time” for the veteran, a source told Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Graziano said there’s emphasis on the optimistic part there, indicating it could be quite a bit longer than that.

He also added “there is hope he’s back in time for playoffs,” which doesn’t paint the prettiest picture. It sounds like it’ll be Jameis Winston and/or Taysom Hill for the foreseeable future. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported earlier the Saints weren’t immediately planning on placing Brees on injured reserve, confirming there is some hope he won’t even have to miss three full games. Graziano says it’ll all come down to when they feel like he can take a hit without risk of re-injury. New Orleans will take on the Falcons this weekend, and head coach Sean Payton has already said he won’t name a starting quarterback until closer to kickoff.

Here’s more on the health status of various passers:

  • The Jets will be looking for their first win of the season with Joe Flacco yet again. Sam Darnold will not be able to return this week, they announced Monday. This will be Flacco’s fourth start of the season after Darnold briefly returned before re-injuring his shoulder and hitting the shelf again. Head coach Adam Gase said he could possibly play in Week 12, but that doesn’t sound overly likely at the moment. Darnold himself spoke to the media, and made it sound like the team is going to be very cautious and not play him until he’s 100 percent. He did say he was “very confident” he would play again this season, but we could be looking at another couple of games at least with Flacco under center.
  • Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew also won’t be ready to return this week, head coach Doug Marrone said Monday, meaning sixth-round rookie Jake Luton will get his third-straight start. It does sound like Minshew is getting closer though, as Marrone said he’ll start throwing routes again in practice this week, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Drew Lock melted down against the Raiders on Sunday with four interceptions, but he apparently wasn’t 100 percent healthy. Lock has a muscle strain around his ribs, a source told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Head coach Vic Fangio acknowledged that his status for this weekend’s game against the Dolphins is in doubt. He also reiterated that he’s not considering benching the second-year pro assuming he’s healthy, even though he’s been struggling mightily recently. If he isn’t able to suit up Brett Rypien is currently the number two, although the team also has veteran Blake Bortles on the practice squad.
  • In better news, it looks like the Cowboys won’t have quite as chaotic a situation any more under center. Coach Mike McCarthy announced Monday that Andy Dalton had been cleared to fully return to practice, and he should start this Sunday against the Vikings. Dalton has missed the past two games after suffering a concussion and then testing positive for COVID-19. Seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci and former undrafted AAF star Garrett Gilbert started in his place.

Cowboys Notes: Prescott, McCarthy, Dalton

The Cowboys are in the midst of a truly disastrous campaign, entering their bye week at a pitiful 2-7. Just about everything that could’ve gone wrong has gone wrong, including a devastating injury to quarterback Dak Prescott. Team EVP Stephen Jones spoke to the media today, and fortunately he had some positive news about Prescott. Jones revealed the signal-caller had avoided any infections in his leg, a distinct and scary possibility with any compound fracture, like we saw with Alex Smith. Jones also declared that Prescott was “ahead of schedule” in his recovery.

That’s all fantastic news, and of course all of us here at PFR continue to hope that’s the case. As for the future, Jones was asked about the possibility of the Cowboys drafting one of this class’ top quarterbacks assuming Dallas has an early pick, which looks likely at this point. Jerry’s son shot down any such speculation, reiterating that “Dak’s our quarterback” and saying “we’re fired up about our future with Dak.” Prescott is of course set to be an unrestricted free agent, and his contract situation is arguably the biggest story of the rapidly approaching NFL offseason.

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Speaking of shooting down speculation, Jones clearly wanted to tamp down any talk about Mike McCarthy’s job security. “Absolutely. Unequivocal,” Jones responded when asked whether McCarthy will definitely be back as the team’s head coach in 2021. When he was hired it would’ve been hard to imagine he could be a one and done, but there have already been reports of dysfunction in the locker room and McCarthy potentially losing the team. The Jones family has been steadfast in their commitment to him however, and this is about as firm as one can get.
  • Former AAF star Garrett Gilbert came off the bench as the Cowboys’ fourth starter at quarterback this season and almost led them to an improbable upset over the Steelers Sunday, but it doesn’t sound like he’s on the verge of getting the full-time starting job. “When he’s cleared, we fully expect him to step in as our starter,” Jones said of Andy Dalton, who has been dealing with a concussion as well as COVID-19. Dalton struggled mightily through one and a half games before getting hurt, and since the team has no real long-term commitment to him it wouldn’t be surprising if they went back to Gilbert before too long if Dalton plays poorly again out of the bye. Gilbert didn’t exactly light it up, but he moved the offense competently against one of the best defenses in the league. For his part, Jones insisted the team still feels like they’ve got a shot to win the lowly NFC East.

Cowboys Rule Out Andy Dalton For Week 8

The Cowboys will not have Andy Dalton available in their annual Sunday-night game against the Eagles. They downgraded the veteran passer to out due to the concussion he suffered in Week 7.

Third-stringer Ben DiNucci will start in Philadelphia. Dalton has yet to clear the protocol after taking an illegal hit from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic, and it will result in an unusual starting offense for the team many expected to win the NFC East this season.

Dallas is already down starting tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins for the season. Although Cameron Erving is back from IR at right tackle, DiNucci will represent an obvious change for a team that has not needed to deviate from its quarterback plan in many years. Dak Prescott started 64 straight games from 2016-19. DiNucci being summoned to start reminds of the 2015 season, when Tony Romo‘s injuries resulted in the Cowboys giving starts to Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden and current OC Kellen Moore.

DiNucci spent the past two seasons as the starter at Division I-FCS James Madison. The former Pitt recruit led the Dukes to the D-I-FCS national championship game, when they lost to North Dakota State and likely 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance. While DiNucci led the FCS level with a 71% completion rate last season and accounted for 35 TDs (six rushing), his forced ascent illustrates how far off course this Cowboys season has drifted. DiNucci completed 2 of 3 passes for 39 yards and took three sacks in Dallas’ 25-3 loss to Washington.

The Cowboys have Garrett Gilbert in place as DiNucci’s backup. Despite being drafted in the 2014 sixth round, Gilbert has only played in six games and thrown six passes as a pro.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andy Dalton Eyeing 2021 Starting Job

Andy Dalton signed to be Dak Prescott‘s backup with the Cowboys this season, but the nine-year Bengals starter does not plan to stay in Dallas beyond 2020. The 32-year-old passer viewed Dallas as an ideal landing spot for a temporary stay — one he hopes will help his value going into 2021 free agency.

I believe I’m a starter in this league, and I feel like I could bring a lot to the table,” Dalton said, via David Hellman of DallasCowboys.com. “I know I’m on a one-year deal. I understand the market’s going to be a little bit different next offseason. So for me, it’s just, I’m trying to set myself up and put myself in the best position for the second half of my career.”

As many as five teams are believed to have pursued Dalton, but he chose a Cowboys team with an entrenched starter — albeit one who is attached to a franchise tag. Prescott has not signed his tender, but Dalton does not expect to, challenge Dallas’ four-year starter.

Dak has played really well, and I knew the situation that I was coming into,” Dalton said. “… This is Year 10 for me — so I think with everything involved and the timing of being a free agent when I was, this is the best decision for me and for family knowing I get to join a great organization on a team that’s ready to win a lot of games.”

Prescott has never missed a game but did battle a shoulder ailment late last season. The Dalton deal protects the Cowboys, who saw Tony Romo go down at various points during his run as their starter.

In the highest-profile quarterback free agent class since free agency began in 1993, Dalton and Jameis Winston signed one-year deals. So did Philip Rivers. Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater and Kirk Cousins, however, agreed to multiyear contracts in March. That will help clear things up in 2021. The ’21 free agency class may be headlined by Dalton, Winston and Cam Newton — after his presumptive one-year deal. This would put that trio in a better position to attract interest as starters.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Five Teams Pursued Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton landed with a team whose quarterback has made 64 straight starts since coming into the NFL, but before signing with the Cowboys, the nine-year Bengals starter drew interest from a few other teams.

In addition to the Cowboys, four other teams pursued Dalton, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. None of them, however, were teams that featured a viable path to a starting job, Florio notes, adding that Dalton decided on the suitor best-equipped to compete for a Super Bowl title.

Employing ex-Bengals OC Jay Gruden, the Jaguars were believed to be in the Dalton mix. The Jets were as well. Dalton has certainly proven more than both those teams’ starters, but each will move ahead with Gardner Minshew and Sam Darnold, respectively. Aside from those two, the other Dalton suitors will have to look elsewhere to bolster their backup jobs.

The Bears may have come closest to landing Dalton, being reported to have been near a trade — to the point Dalton expected to be Chicago-bound. But those talks broke down, leading the Bears to acquire Nick Foles from the Jaguars. Having bypassed low-cost veterans in Dalton and Jameis Winston, after not drafting a quarterback, the Patriots continue to trend toward a legitimate Jarrett StidhamBrian Hoyer QB competition.

Dak Prescott has never missed a start, but Dalton obviously provides a tremendous upgrade over former UDFA Cooper Rush — Dallas’ backup for the past three seasons. Dalton could conceivably create leverage for the Cowboys in their enduring negotiations with Prescott, but that is not believed to be behind Dallas’ decision to sign the Texas native. Dalton is signed to a one-year, $3MM deal — a steep drop from his previous Bengals salary — while Prescott is tethered to a $31.5MM franchise tag.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andy Dalton To Sign With Cowboys

Just a couple of days after the Bengals released QB Andy Dalton, the Cowboys are bringing him back home. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Dallas is signing the Texas native to a one-year, $3MM deal that can reach $7MM with incentives (Twitter link).

One immediate response to the signing is that it could be a leverage play for the Cowboys in their continuing negotiations with Dak Prescott. But according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, that is not the case (Twitter link). Rather, Dallas believes it has a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl this year, and it’s not often that a team can add a quality, highly-experienced backup this late in the offseason.

And while Jelani Scott of NFL.com writes that Dalton is happy to be returning to his home state, the fact that he is signing with the Cowboys knowing that he will be the backup is telling. We heard immediately after Dalton’s release that the Patriots and Jaguars were interested in his services, and the three-time Pro Bowler would have theoretically had an opportunity to compete for the starting job with those clubs. So as Albert Breer of SI.com observes, perhaps New England’s and Jacksonville’s reported interest amounted to little more than due diligence (Twitter link).

On the other hand, Todd Archer of ESPN.com says Dalton’s decision to sign with the Cowboys was at least partially motivated by the coronavirus. Given the uncertainty created by the pandemic, Dalton — who lives in Dallas — was eager to stay at home even if that meant eschewing a better opportunity elsewhere (though since teams’ offseason programs look like they will remain virtual for the foreseeable future, it seems as if a better opportunity simply wasn’t presenting itself).

The last report concerning Prescott and the Cowboys suggested that negotiations between the two sides were going very well. Prescott has his detractors — just like Dalton — but he has not missed a game in his four-year career, and Dallas certainly hopes that trend will continue in 2020. But if Prescott does miss time, Dallas will have the luxury of inserting a capable signal-caller who has guided his team to the playoffs and who has a winning record over 133 games as a starting QB.

And Dalton, who expressed disappointment that the Bengals did not release him early enough for him to have a chance to catch on with a team that had not already addressed its quarterback position, will have the opportunity to truly explore unrestricted free agency in 2021, when the market will presumably be much less robust than it was this year.

The Cowboys are also rostering Cooper Rush, who has served as Prescott’s backup in each of the past three seasons. Rush is set to earn a non-guaranteed $2.1MM in 2020, but while the team doesn’t have a ton of cap space, it probably has enough to sign its draft class and get through the season (especially if Prescott signs a multi-year deal, which should lower his 2020 number). So even though Rush will be demoted to QB3, he still has a good chance of making the team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Interested In Andy Dalton

An unexpected Andy Dalton suitor has surfaced. The Jets are exploring the recently released quarterback, Rich Cimini and Ben Baby of ESPN.com note.

This would likely be as a backup for Sam Darnold, and Cimini adds that the Jets are at the “due diligence” stage of this process. The Jets re-signed 2019 backup David Fales and drafted Florida International’s James Morgan in the fourth round.

A Dalton addition would prove interesting, with the nine-year Bengals starter obviously having accomplished far more than Darnold at this point. Darnold has ranked 25th and 28th in QBR in his two NFL seasons. Adam Gase and GM Joe Douglas were not with the Jets when Darnold was drafted in 2018. Dalton, then, would be the team’s first big quarterback investment since Gase and Douglas entered the picture.

A Darnold-Dalton depth chart would understandably insert competition into the equation, with the latter having three Pro Bowls on his resume. Each invite came as an alternate, but Dalton certainly is a much bigger name than any of Darnold’s backups thus far.

Thus far, the Jaguars have been the team most connected to Dalton. New Jacksonville OC Jay Gruden worked with the veteran passer in Cincinnati. The Bears were close to a Dalton deal in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On QB Andy Dalton, Bengals

Before he was released earlier this week, there was some optimism that Andy Dalton would land in Chicago. As Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic writes, the Bengals “were very close” to trading the veteran quarterback to the Bears back in March, and Dalton himself believed that’d be his ultimate landing spot.

Instead, Chicago shifted focus to Nick Foles, sending a fourth-rounder to the Jaguars for the former Super Bowl MVP. When the Bengals/Bears trade broke down, Cincy’s front office quickly discovered that they didn’t have any trade options for Dalton. As Dehner writes, two potential suitors, the Colts and Buccaneers, solved their quarterback issues via free agency, and rival front offices soon realized that the Bengals weren’t going to retain Dalton’s pricey cap hit.

Dalton believes the waiting game ended up hurting his chances of finding an ideal landing spot.

“There were several different factors,” Dalton told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “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.”

With the Bengals zeroing in on LSU’s Joe Burrow with the first-overall pick, Dalton recently approached president Mike Brown, director of player personnel Duke Tobin, and head coach Zac Taylor for clarity. Ultimately, the organization decided to simply release the 32-year-old.

While Dalton opines that the waiting game impacted his ability to find a new team, it sounds like he may still have some options. We heard earlier this week that the Jaguars and Patriots could be among the teams interested in the veteran quarterback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.