FRISCO, Texas – Clearly, Andy Dalton is a big picture thinker.
Having talked with the Cowboys' newest quarterback on Tuesday evening, that's easily the biggest impression.
Because, while Dalton has every intention of helping the Cowboys succeed in 2020, it's clear he signed on with an eye on his long-term future.
"I believe I'm a starter in this league, and I feel like I could bring a lot to the table," Dalton said. "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."
It's a smart strategy for the 32-year-old. Dalton has nine years of starting experience in the NFL, and he has been to three Pro Bowls. Nick Foles and Teddy Bridgewater are just two recent examples of quarterbacks who have rejuvenated their careers after brief stints as backups.
"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," Dalton said.
All of that said, Dalton understands the situation in front of him. For all the uncertainty surrounding Dak Prescott's contract negotiations, Dalton is well aware of where he fits into the Cowboys' depth chart.
"Dak has played really well, and I knew the situation that I was coming into," he said.
That's bound to be a talking point in these circumstances. Dalton has started 133 career games, throwing for 31,594 passing yards and 204 touchdowns while leading the Cincinnati Bengals to five playoff appearances. He's far more experienced than the average NFL backup quarterback.
Dalton understands that, but he also isn't under any illusions.
"I think, because I've been a starter in this league, won a lot of games and have put some really good seasons together, I think that's just, everybody on the outside's going to view it that way," he said. "But Dak's the starter on this team, and I'm here if, for some reason, anything were to happen for him to go down, I'm going to be able to step in and do everything I can to help this team win."
It's an element the Cowboys haven't had on their roster since 2013, when Kyle Orton provided depth behind Tony Romo. It's intriguing to think that Dalton can help the Cowboys not just as a player, but as an experienced voice in the quarterback room. Dalton said he texted Prescott after signing his deal, and Prescott said he's looking forward to working together. He also added that he's been meeting with quarterback coach Doug Nussmeier to discuss the Cowboys' offense.
"Obviously, it's early right now and there's still a lot of time to learn everything," he said. "I'm trying to get on top of it as quick as I can."
It will be an adjustment for Dalton, given that he spent the last decade as the face of the franchise. But judging from the early going, it's an adjustment he's embracing. And whatever the long-term future holds for Dalton, it makes the short-term look that much brighter for the Cowboys.
"I'm going to try to be the biggest asset to this team, try to help out this offense, help out Dak, help out everybody as much as I can," Dalton said. "It's a different perspective for me, since I've been a starter the last nine years, but I understand the position I'm coming into and the role I'm going to play."