FROM HOME, Texas – Not quite sure how to explain some of this, how these personnel gifts just continue falling into the laps of the Dallas Cowboys.
Start with the signing of free agent defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the six-time Pro Bowler from Oklahoma. At 32 years of age and entering his 11th NFL season, partially did so to remain closer to his son, who had just committed to play his college ball for the Sooners, too.
Then CeeDee Lamb. The No. 6 player on the Cowboys' draft board. Top wide receiver. Yet he's there for the taking when the Cowboys' turn comes at No. 17, after two other receivers had already been drafted.
Then Travon Diggs. Thought to be a first-round cornerback. He's there with the 19th pick in the second round.
Then Neville Gallimore. The Cowboys were tempted to draft him in the second round, yet again, there he is in the third round, 82nd pick.
Were able to trade up with the Eagles, of all teams, to grab center Tyler Biadasz with the final pick of the fourth round.
Now this: Into their lap drops quarterback Andy Dalton, a nine-year veteran and 2011 second-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals when the Cowboys probably weren't searching hard and wide for an experienced backup to Dak Prescott.
But, the Bengals decided to unleash Dalton and his $17.1 million base salary. Yep, that Dalton, the kid from Katy, Texas, who played his college ball at TCU. The 32-year-old who has a home here in the Dallas area, with wife Jordan and three kids, ages five, three and one.
Hey, who wants to do a lot of moving around during this COVID-19 mess? Or who wants to be without a job the first of May, free agency nearly two months old, especially when not knowing when or if the 2020 season will start?
And how many quarterbacks at such a young age are willing to become a backup, with no hopes of competing for a starting gig or receiving starting-gig pay?
Maybe this is why the Cowboys selected Mike McCarthy to be this 60-year-old franchise's ninth head coach.
Counting on the luck of the Irish.
Now then, with so much to discuss on this latest move, maybe for the most parts we can call today's shots something like Andy Shots.
- Price Is Right: Dalton's deal has been reported to be one year, $3 million guaranteed, that could top out at $7 million. Think about this, as an insurance policy against a Dak injury, Dalton costing just $900,000 more against the salary cap than the presumptive backup Cooper Rush would have with his $2.1 million restricted free agent pay. That for a quarterback with as many Pro Bowl appearances (3) as Rush's NFL career pass attempts (3). And for Dalton to count $1 million more against next year's cap, he'll need to play 50 percent of the offensive snaps and the Cowboys must make the playoffs. For another $500,000 he must play 35 percent of the offensive snaps, 50 percent of the playoff snaps and direct the team to a first-round playoff victory. Then on and on. What a bargain.
- Déjà Vu: How about this for some NFL symmetry. Dalton entered the league as the 35th pick in the 2011 draft and became the Bengals' starting quarterback without the benefit of an offseason. Remember, that was the lockout year when the NFL and NFLPA failed to ratify a new CBA until a few days before the start of training camp. Now nine years later, Dalton is on to his second team, and there's definitely a chance he will do so without the benefit of this offseason. Oh, and his Cincinnati successor, No. 1 draft choice Joe Burrow, might have to do the same as Dalton in 2011, taking over the Bengals' reins without the benefit of an offseason. By the way, it was the rookie Dalton taking over for veteran incumbent Carson Palmer, who wanted to be traded, then did not report to training camp and eventually in October was traded to the Raiders. Hmmmm.
- You Want #s: Former colleague and friend Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati Inquirer columnist wrote of Dalton: If numbers are your thing,they show that _Dalton was better than the man he replaced. He had a lower INT % than Carson Palmer, had a better yards-per-game average and QB Rating. His completion percentage was identical with Nine's. And it wasn't as if he had better players around him than Palmer did. In fact, Palmer's o-lines were better than Dalton's._
- · More Numbers: Dalton was no slouch in Cincinnati. His 133 games played for the Bengals came up one short of Boomer Esiason's second most in club history (14 seasons), Ken Anderson in 16 years playing 192. His 70-61-2 record is second best to Anderson's 91-81 for most wins. Dalton's 204 career touchdowns is a franchise record, and he finished second in passing yards (31,594) and second in completion percentage (62 percent). Also has the best winning percentage (.534) and most game-winning drives (24). Oh, and he led the Bengals to five-consecutive playoff appearances (2011-2015), and just maybe a broken thumb in the first quarter of Game 13 during the 2015 season when the Bengals were siting 10-2 might have derailed a magical season, Cincinnati going 2-2 to the finish with A.J. McCarron taking over and losing a first-round playoff game to Pittsburgh, 18-16.
- Ready For Some … : Uh, football schedule? The NFL will announce the 2020 football schedule at 7 p.m. (CT) Thursday on NFL Network, possibly the most watched schedule-release TV show in history since what other live, non-history related event are you going to be watching? Be interesting to see if a potential delay to the start of the season or midseason interruption affects the order of division games or possibly when games might be played in COVID-19 hotbed states such as New York and California.
- Compensatory Projections: This equation figuring the compensatory picks by weighing lost and signed unrestricted free agents is so complicated, but somehow NFL.com came up with this four-pick projection for the Cowboys in 2021 now that further signings have no bearing anymore: One each in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. So that includes losing seven unrestricted free agents (Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Jason Witten, Maliek Collins, Jeff Heath, Randall Cobb and Xavier Su'a-Filo) and signing the likes of McCoy, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Greg Zuerlein. Meaning trading next year's fifth to move up for Biadasz is insignificant.
- Shorties: The first-round of the 2017 NFL Draft is less than impressive if exercised fifth-year options is any indication since of the 32 picks, clubs did not exercise options on 13 players, with one waived, one traded and one released. Uh, the waived player being the 28th pick, Taco Charlton, who didn't make it with the Cowboys and was let go by Miami … As of Tuesday, the Cowboys officially signed Dalton and 10 undrafted rookie free agents … Only signed one offensive tackle, Terence Steele of Texas Tech, and one defensive end, Ron'Dell Carter of James Madison … Nice tribute to the late Don Shula from Gil Brandt, Tweeting out about the 90-year-old legendary coach, "I'm at a loss for words. The game lost one of its giants. People will remember Coach Shula for all the games he won, but as an influential member of the competition committee he did so much for advancing the game to what it is now. Miss you already. Rest easy, my friend."
And with all of that, to think, if life here in the U.S. of A. had been normal, the Cowboys would have been conducting their rookie minicamp this weekend. Cherish the schedule.