Cowboys' Andy Dalton eyes season as setup to 'second half' of career

Andy Dalton already understands the Dallas Cowboys are Dak Prescott's team.

"My mindset is, 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 during a conference call Wednesday. "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."

Dalton sent Prescott a text message not long after signing with Dallas, telling him he was ready to help in any way.

The Cowboys signed Dalton to a one-year deal last week worth $3 million guaranteed that could rise to $7 million if he reaches certain playing-time thresholds and helps them win Super Bowl LV.

After selecting quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in last month's NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals released Dalton, their starter since 2011, and he quickly opted to join the Cowboys but said he had other options available to him. He said the ability to learn from new coach Mike McCarthy, who has a Super Bowl win and has coached Hall of Famers such as Joe Montana and Brett Favre and future a Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers, was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Dalton, 32, is looking at 2020 as a way to set up what he called the "second half" of his career.

"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. So in weighing all the different options and things I had available, I felt like this was a perfect fit for me, and it's going to set me up to do all that."

The fact that he lives in Dallas, not far from The Star in Frisco, Texas, was a positive as well.

"It's very nice that it gets to be at home," Dalton said. "Not having to learn a new place, not having to learn a new city, how to get around, all that kind of stuff. Just get to treat it like home. It's definitely a luxury with this."

Dalton is in the early process of learning the Cowboys' offense with coordinator Kellen Moore -- whom he played against twice while at TCU when Moore was at Boise State -- and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier during virtual meetings. Since he has not signed the exclusive franchise tag tender, Prescott has not been taking part in the offseason program, but McCarthy said the starting quarterback has been in communication with coaches.

Dalton has been able to maintain his normal training schedule because he has a home gym, and whenever the season starts, he is going to prepare the same way as when he was the starter in Cincinnati.

"I feel like I've got a routine with how I study the opponent and go about each week. Nothing is going to change with my preparation," Dalton said. "I know the role that I'm in, but I've got to be ready to play. That's one thing that you see across the league with backups. You're only one play away from getting in there, so you'd better know what you're doing. From a preparation standpoint, nothing is going to change. I'm preparing like I'm going to play each Sunday."