Andy Dalton Will Join a Long List of Big Names Who Have Been Backup QBs for the Dallas Cowboys
Andy Dalton recently signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys and will serve as the backup quarterback for Dak Prescott, who is still currently without the long-term deal he’s been seeking for quite some time. But make no mistake about it. Dak Prescott will be the starting quarterback in Big D in 2020. He was slapped with the franchise tag back in March and will make more than $31 million this upcoming season.
While Dalton could have tested the market a little more, he signed a very team-friendly deal to keep his family in the Dallas area, where he’s lived for years, and will likely take another stab at the open market next year, a year where he’s far more likely to find a starting gig. For now, the nine-year veteran, who left the Cincinnati Bengals with a 70-61-2 career record, joins a long list of big-name quarterbacks whose main job for the Cowboys was to hold a clipboard.
Naturally, this list begins with Jason Garrett, who was a backup option to Troy Aikman from 1993-1999. Garrett appeared in 25 games in Big D, starting nine of them, before playing his final season with the New York Giants in 2000. Garrett returned to the Cowboys in 2007 as the offensive coordinator and took over as interim head coach in 2010 before getting the official gig in 2011. His tenure with the Cowboys ended after this past season and, like his playing days, he’s moved on to the New York Giants as the offensive coordinator.
While Bernie Kosar is remembered by most as the longtime quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, things just weren’t working out between he and Bill Belichick. Kosar was released by the Browns after a Week 10 loss in 1993 and was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys for the remainder of the season and joined Jason Garrett as a backup option to Troy Aikman. Kosar appeared in four games, starting one, and took the last snap of the Cowboys’ second Super Bowl win over the Buffalo Bills. He signed with Miami the following season.
From 1989-1993, Rodney Peete started all 47 games in which appeared for the Detroit Lions and later became the starter for the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers. But during the 1994 season, he replaced Bernie Kosar as the backup to Troy Aikman. He appeared in seven games that season, starting one, and completed 33 of 56 passes for 470 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception.
Wade Wilson started 69 games in his 17-year NFL career, but just one of those came for the Dallas Cowboys. Wilson joined Jason Garrett as a backup to Troy Aikman from 1995-1997 and appeared in 17 games. Once his playing days were over, he had two terms as the quarterbacks coach in Dallas, the first from 2000-2002, and a second from 2007-2017. Wilson passed away in 2019 due to complications from Type I Diabetes.
Randall Cunningham was the longtime starter for the Philadelphia Eagles and then spent a few years as the main man for the Minnesota Vikings before coming to Dallas in 2000, Troy Aikman’s final season with the Cowboys. Cunningham shared backup duties with Anthony Wright and appeared in six games.
Ryan Leaf is known as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. The No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft was one of numerous quarterbacks to appear during the 2001 season for the Dallas Cowboys, which would turn out to be Leaf’s last in the NFL. He appeared in four games, starting three of them, all of which were losses.
Super Bowl-winning quarterback Brad Johnson spent the last two seasons of his 15-year career as the primary backup to Tony Romo in 2007 and 2008. The two-time Pro Bowler completed 48 of 89 passes in those two years for 506 yards and two touchdowns.
Jon Kitna was once the starter for the Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, and Detroit Lions but spent his twilight years with the Dallas Cowboys, joining the team in 2009. He didn’t take a single snap his first year but was thrust into the starting role in 2010 when Romo went down with an injury. He went 4-5 as a starter and returned to the backup role upon Romo’s return. He appeared in three games in 2011 and came back for one final game in 2013.
Former Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos starter Kyle Orton certainly isn’t on Jerry Jones’ list of favorite people. Orton spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as Romo’s backup but only appeared in four games. In 2014, Orton threatened retirement and refused to show up for any team activities prior to the season. He risked losing his signing bonus so he eventually showed up, only to be released. Jones didn’t have to pay his salary but still had to pay him the bonus. Orton did not retire and signed with the Buffalo Bills and eventually became their starter.
Matt Cassel was famously Tom Brady’s backup with the New England Patriots from 2005-2007 and was thrust into the starting role when Brady went down with a season-ending injury during the first game in 2008. Cassel led New England to an 11-5 record and then signed a big-money deal with the Kansas City Chiefs the following season, where he posted a 19-28 record over four seasons. After stops in Minnesota and Buffalo, he joined the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 when Romo again went down with an injury. He appeared in nine games and went 1-6 as the starter while sharing duties with Brandon Weeden and Kellen Moore.
Mark Sanchez helped the New York Jets to the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010, his first two seasons in the NFL, but by the time 2016 rolled around, his career had taken a disastrous turn and he appeared in two games for the Dallas Cowboys, completing 10 of 18 passes for 93 yards and zero touchdowns.