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With Andy Dalton gone, which way will Dallas Cowboys turn for backup QB?

FRISCO, Texas -- When quarterback Andy Dalton signed with the Dallas Cowboys last year, it was with the idea of resetting his career and finding a starting spot in 2021.
Last season, Dalton went 4-5 in nine starts as Dak Prescott's replacement and will sign a one-year deal worth up to $13 million with the Chicago Bears with at least the chance to be their No. 1 quarterback.
So what will the Cowboys do for their No. 2 quarterback now?
Dallas has Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci under contract behind Prescott, who signed a four-year, $160 million deal last week. Gilbert played well in his one start -- the first of his career -- last season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing 21 of 38 passes for 243 yards with a touchdown and an interception. DiNucci, a seventh-round pick a year ago, did not play well in his one start in 2020 against the Philadelphia Eagles, completing 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott's contract includes $1 million Super Bowl incentive

2022 base salary: $20 million
2023 base salary: $31 million
2024 base salary: $29 million ($5 million roster bonus due the fifth day of the league year)
2025 base salary: $40 million (voidable year)
2026 base salary: $40 million (voidable year)
2021 cap figure: $22.2 million
2022 cap figure: $33.2 million
2023 cap figure: $44.2 million
2024 cap figure: $47.2 million
2025 cap figure: $53.2 million (voidable year)
2026 cap figure: $40 million (voidable year)
The final two years of the contract void after the deadline to use the franchise tag in 2025, but the Cowboys would have difficulty in using the tag in 2025 even without that deadline. Since they are putting the tag on Prescott Tuesday for mostly procedural reasons, if they wanted to tag him in 2025, it would come at a 144% increase over his 2024 cap number and effectively cost $68 million.

Tuesday's franchise tag deadline awaits Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones has said it many times over the years: Deadlines make deals.
If that's the case between the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott, welcome to at least the fourth deadline in their long-running negotiations that have yet to lead to the multiyear agreement both parties say they want.
Without a long-term deal done by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, the Cowboys will use the franchise tag on Prescott for the second straight year at a cost of $37.7 million.
When the Cowboys and Prescott's agent, Todd France, started these negotiations in 2019, the team's hope was to get Prescott signed during the offseason program, then in training camp and ultimately by the start of the 2019 regular season.

How a six-year deal could be a compromise for Cowboys, Dak Prescott

The quarterback wants a four-year contract. Dallas wants a five-year commitment. ESPN's Todd Archer has a proposal that could make both sides content.

Do Dallas Cowboys' options at No. 10 include a quarterback?

Several position groups and prospects will be linked to Dallas as mock draft season heats up. Let's dive into the most realistic scenarios.

Dallas Cowboys up for HOF next? DeMarcus Ware, Darren Woodson top list

FRISCO, Texas -- Drew Pearson thought he was at The Star recently for a potential real estate meeting with Jerry Jones and Roger Staubach. Since the Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback are business partners, it made all the sense in the world to the former Cowboys wide receiver.
Then came the knock on the door.
Jones asked Pearson if he wouldn't mind answering. On the other side was Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker to inform Pearson of his enshrinement into football's hallowed ground in Canton, Ohio.
Pearson is the 20th former Cowboys player, coach or executive to earn Hall of Fame honors. Pearson, who wore No. 88 with Dallas from 1973 to 1983, was the only first-team selection to the All-Decade team of the 1970s who had not been enshrined in the Hall of Fame -- until now.

Cowboys need to be careful thinking injury returns are a cure-all

FRISCO, Texas -- As the 2020 NFL season went along, the Dallas Cowboys' training room had a Pro Bowl feel to it.
Quarterback Dak Prescott was in the room recovering from surgery for a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. Left tackle Tyron Smith was in there rehabbing from a neck injury that limited him to two games. Offensive lineman Zack Martin was in there late in the season recovering from a calf strain. So was linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who had a broken collarbone in Week 1 and a high ankle sprain in the Cowboys' final two games.
Those four players combined for 16 Pro Bowl appearances since 2013.

Why Jerry Jones won't pull a John Elway and step down as Cowboys' GM

The Broncos legend relinquished his GM role recently, which left Dallas fans to ponder if its owner might do the same. Hint: Don't count on it.

Dallas Cowboys must give Dan Quinn talent or defense won't improve

He does not have Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril or the other members of a Seattle Seahawks defense that finished No. 1 in yards and points per game when Quinn was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator in 2013 and '14.
The Dallas defensive line is anchored by DeMarcus Lawrence, who had a fine season but 6.5 sacks. Who would be considered the Cowboys' second-best defensive lineman? Neville Gallimore? Antwaun Woods? Randy Gregory? If you consider him a down lineman, how about Aldon Smith?
How about linebacker?
Jaylon Smith had a career-high 161 tackles. Do you remember any of them in a positive way after the 2020 season? Leighton Vander Esch missed six games with a broken collarbone and high ankle sprain, but has he hit the same level of play he did as a rookie in 2018? Sean Lee and Joe Thomas are scheduled to be free agents. The rest of the lot are special-teamers or young players who might or might not make the roster in 2021.

One year in as Cowboys' coach, Mike McCarthy says 'we have a lot of work to do'

While the Cowboys' 6-10 season was "uniquely challenging," as the coach puts it, it also highlights the many areas that need immediate attention.

Giants hoping to end two streaks against Cowboys

New York has lost seven in a row to its rivals in Dallas and has not reached the postseason since 2016.

Cowboys' playoff chances still alive, thanks to their offense and Washington

Quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 377 yards and had touchdown passes of 21 and 7 yards to Michael Gallup and 52 yards to CeeDee Lamb as the Cowboys took advantage of a poor Eagles secondary and a pass rush that was missing defensive tackle Fletcher Cox for most of the game.
As for winning the division, the Cowboys (6-9) still need help and it needs to come from the team they just beat. In Week 17, Philadelphia needs to beat the Washington Football Team and the Cowboys need to beat the New York Giants.
Since the Cowboys were swept by Washington, they lose a tiebreaker, requiring the Eagles to do them another favor.

Even as spectators, Cowboys' Dak Prescott, Eagles' Carson Wentz remain linked

When Philadelphia kicks off Sunday at Dallas, the teams' respective franchise quarterbacks will be watching and waiting to see how 2021 will play out.

As Jason Garrett heads to the Giants, let's close out his Cowboys era

There were plenty of disappointing losses and missed playoffs, but the 53-year-old remained true to who he was as a person and as the Dallas coach.

Mike McCarthy happy for Packers, says he's learning from former team

The Cowboys' coach remained in Green Bay during his year away from the game and says he watched the Packers as he prepared for his NFL return.

How Mike McCarthy can make sense of the 8-8 Cowboys he's inheriting

The coach will take over a star-studded team that finished No. 1 in offense in yards, yet went 1-6 in one-score games and failed to make the playoffs.

Cowboys' Sean Lee delivering and cherishing big moments

FRISCO, Texas -- Sean Lee is 33. The yellow, purple and red bruising on his left arm is the product of a partially torn pectoral muscle suffered around the midway point of the Dallas Cowboys' season. A thigh injury makes it difficult for him to walk.
Yet he fights on.
The linebacker is in the final year of his contract, and nobody knows how much longer he wants to play -- or can -- but moments such as this Sunday, when the Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles in a de facto NFC East championship game (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox), are why he endures.

Fourth-down calls show Jason Garrett's trust, players' belief in him

In a prove-it season, the Cowboys coach sticks to his gut and takes chances. Dak Prescott says that built-in trust "means a lot as a player."

Why haven't the Cowboys, Dak Prescott agreed on a deal?

It's Week 6 and Dallas doesn't have an extension in place with its franchise quarterback. Here are some answers.

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