Cowboys’ Andy Dalton can take advantage after Dak Prescott injury

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Seven months ago, Andy Dalton was the perennial bridesmaid.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had interest, but only if their Tom Brady pitch fell through. The Indianapolis Colts called, but a deal was back-burnered in favor of Philip Rivers. And just when the Cincinnati Bengals thought Chicago was ready to consummate a deal, the Bears took a left turn for Nick Foles.

This is how Dalton became a Dallas Cowboy. He was a near-miss starting option for a handful of other teams, then got released and was left to choose between backup options that included Dallas, the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Now a horrible turn of fate has granted him a chance to reclaim a reputation as a starter, while rebooting a career that has never gotten the respect it probably deserves.

This is why Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed Dalton in May, because Jones has been through the Brandon Weeden, Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel experience. And even though Dak Prescott didn’t miss a single game in the previous four seasons, the Cowboys owner learned the hard way that guys like Troy Aikman and Tony Romo sometimes didn’t walk through that door. The resulting backup slump (aside from, say, the Jon Kitna experience) taught a valuable lesson: A quality starter on the second rung of the quarterback depth chart can be the difference between fighting through the remainder of a season or simply killing time before the NFL draft.

Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton, pictured at training camp in August with Dak Prescott, was a late free-agent signing for Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

That’s what Jones is banking on with Dalton. That this is a guy who can help salvage a season that has gone off the rails with injuries.

He’s hoping this is the same Dalton who


Business of Football: Dak Prescott’s injury won’t significantly hurt his career earnings

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In the aftermath of Dak Prescott’s bone-chilling injury and reaction on Sunday, many have asked me about his business decision to turn down a multi-year offer from the Cowboys to instead play on a one-year contract with no security beyond it. Here are some thoughts.

We do not know what the Cowboys were offering, but we do know from their contract history that they prefer long deals—the longer the better—with guarantees only in the low-risk early years of the deal. They have previously signed star players to contracts with lengths up to 10 years, which are essentially one- or two-year contracts with team options following that. Amid that landscape, the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes agreed to a 12-year deal, one that only secures $63 million over the next three years (Ryan Tannehill is making $91 million over the same time frame). Wanting both a better deal from the Cowboys and more optionality in his career, Prescott chose to play in 2020 on the one-year franchise tag number of $31 million.

Yes, if Prescott were never to play again or to find himself in a non-leveraged position next March and taking a below-market “prove it” contract, he would have been better off taking whatever the Cowboys offered last year, giving him more than the $31 million guarantee that he has. But ask yourself: Is that really the most likely scenario here? It is not.

Much more likely is that this upcoming February we will be in the same place we were last February: with Prescott a pending free agent and the Cowboys having to 1) negotiate a long-term contract; 2) re-apply the franchise tag, or 3) set him free into a marketplace desperate for young and proven quarterbacks. And my sense is that, as long as his recovery and rehabilitation has


Alex Smith returned to action nearly 2 years after a gruesome injury

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LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — The ball slipped out of Jared Goff’s right hand trying to spike it after a touchdown. That was about the only time he wasn’t in control.

“It wasn’t great,” he said. “I have the excuse that it was wet.”

Goff threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Los Angeles Rams improved to 4-1 by beating Washington 30-10 on Sunday in Alex Smith’s return almost two years since a gruesome injury put his career in jeopardy.

“It’s incredible what he has overcome,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “You almost wish it were in better conditions. Weird to say when it’s also our defense making things difficult for him. I’m just so impressed with him.”

Smith played his first NFL game 693 days since breaking his right tibia and fibula, entering when new Washington starting quarterback Kyle Allen injured his left arm. Smith was 9 of 17 for 37 yards on the same field he was carted away from on Nov. 18, 2018 before undergoing 17 surgeries to repair the injury.

“Very surreal at first,” Smith said of completing his comeback. “To have it happen as fast as it did was probably almost a blessing. … It was kind of nice in that situation not having to think about it. You just go out and do it.”

Former Washington QB Joe Theismann, who broke his right leg in similar fashion 33 years to the day before Smith was injured, said it was spectacular to see his return, adding, “I’m so thrilled and excited for him.”

The Rams are thrilled with such a strong


Detroit Pistons’ Khyri Thomas making case for minutes after injury riddled start to career

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Second-round draft picks generally don’t carry high expectations when entering the NBA. But the Detroit Pistons thought highly of Khyri Thomas’ potential in 2018.

Dwane Casey’s takeaways from Detroit Pistons bubble workouts



They sent two future second-round picks to the Philadelphia Sixers to acquire Thomas (picked 38th overall) before taking a player with similar strengths in Bruce Brown four picks later. 

Brown has since solidified himself as a rotation player, while injuries have prevented Thomas from establishing a consistent role. An injury-depleted roster enabled Brown — along with several other young players such as Svi Mykhailiuk and Christian Wood — to seize more minutes last year. A stress reaction in Thomas’ right foot and an early end to the season limited him to just eight games in 2019-20. 

David Mansaray playing a game of basketball: Detroit Pistons guard Khyri Thomas shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Jason Smith (during the fourth quarter at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, Jan. 1, 2019 in Milwaukee.

© Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Khyri Thomas shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Jason Smith (during the fourth quarter at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, Jan. 1, 2019 in Milwaukee.

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More: Pistons’ Thon Maker on potential free agency: ‘I’ve always loved Detroit’

On paper, Thomas has the pedigree to be a reliable 3-and-D role player. He’s only 6-foot-3, but has a 6-10 wingspan. He’s a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He was also a 40.6% 3-point shooter during his three seasons at Creighton. 

Thomas benefitted from the Pistons’ group workouts during the last three weeks, head coach Dwane Casey told reporters. The in-market bubble, which ended Friday, gave him an extended opportunity to showcase his game. 

And the timing could work in