A rollercoaster season for quarterback Andy Dalton and the Cowboys is over.
Could Dalton return to a backup role next year?
Dalton wasn't ready to speculate on his future after Sunday's 23-19 loss to the Giants but said he's thankful for this season in Dallas after playing the first nine years of his NFL career with the Bengals.
"There's a lot to be decided this offseason. This is my first time being a free agent when the new league year starts, so I'll go through the process of everything and weigh all of my options and see what I got," he said.
"I've really enjoyed my time in Dallas. Just a good chance to play back at home where I've had a lot of family and friends that are able to come to games. I'm very thankful for the opportunity that I had this year, with the ability to play and just put some tape out there. So I'll see how everything goes, and when that time comes and a decision has to be made, I'm going to do what's best for me and my family."
Dalton made his ninth and final start of the season Sunday, completing 29 of 47 passes for 243 yards with no touchdowns. He said he received stitches after the game to close a laceration on his left hand, an injury he suffered when he got stepped on during a scramble.
Dalton's lone interception of the game -- a jump ball on third-and-goal from the Giants' 17-yard line in the final two minutes -- is a play he wants back. The Giants were able to run out the final 1:15 to eliminate the Cowboys from playoff contention.
"I tried to extend the play and tried to throw it up and give somebody a chance," he said. "In hindsight, I wish I wouldn't have done that. I wish I would've just thrown it away."
Dalton finishes the season 4-5 as a fill-in starter, not including his contributions to the Cowboys' Week 5 comeback win over the Giants after Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
A concussion and a bout with COVID-19 sidelined Dalton for two games in November, but he returned to help the Cowboys win three straight and keep playoff hopes possible before Sunday's loss.
The Cowboys expect Prescott back healthy next season and have repeatedly stated their goal of signing Prescott to a long-term deal. Dalton embraced his newfound role as a backup when he signed a one-year deal with Dallas back in May.
But Dalton also might have starting opportunities elsewhere when he's scheduled to hit free agency in March -- and he believes he can still be a viable NFL starter.
"I feel like I can play, and I feel like I can help a team win," he said. "Hopefully, with the film that I put out this year, people see that and value me in that way. I obviously feel like I still got a lot of good football left, and we'll see how it all plays out."