Andy Dalton a Patriot? Only at the right price.

Jim Hackett
May 02, 2020 - 8:09 am
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The only thing worse than not having a quarterback is having one you can’t win with and Andy Dalton has proven to be exactly that. A quarterback you cannot win with. Right now, the New England Patriots are in the category of the former however, they don’t have one, at least not one we’re sure of yet. Which leads us to the next chapter in the story.

Whether or not to bring in Andy Dalton.

Have you ever shopped at the Dollar Store? Or perhaps the Dollar Tree? If you’re buying greeting cards for the holidays and birthdays in your life anywhere else, then you’re throwing money away. A card at the local pharmacy or grocery store can cost around $5. At one of those Dollar stores? It’s a buck or less. Good for cheap party balloons too. It’s a beautiful thing.

If Dalton were in the frozen section of one of those Dollar stores, being preserved for the right suitor at a bargain-basement price, I’d say defrost him and bring him in. If he’s on the shelf at his most recent retail price or anything close to that though, I’d happily walk on by.

Here’s why.

Dalton is a decent quarterback. "The Red Rifle" can sling it for sure. He’s the biggest, tallest and certainly the brightest of the NFL’s Yorkshire Terriers. That’s the problem though. As mentioned above he’s a guy you just won’t win with and certainly not anywhere near the levels we’ve reveled in here for so long. The Dalton decision does have some merit though and that’s not only to stay at least somewhat competitive but to give young Jarrett Stidham a little more time. Letting the potential promise of Stidham simmer in the pan a little longer could be a good thing for the long-term health of the Patriots.

Some real competition for Stidham wouldn’t hurt either. Right now, there are just too many unknowns. Just buying more time while potentially staying competitive, that’s the case for Dalton. I’ve driven enough cars during New England winters to know, that rolling with Stidham essentially uncontested feels like a bit of a cold start.

The economics are stacked against it, however. Currently, the Patriots have $1,666,777 in cap space. There are rookies to pay and strategic depth moves to make and that’s exactly the category I’d put Dalton into. He would be purely a strategic add. Dalton’s last contract was for six years and $96,000,000. Wow! To think Tom Brady couldn’t get two years and $50,000,000 here to end his career in New England makes for a jarring comparison.

Current Patriots back-up Brian Hoyer is signed for a one-year deal worth $1.05 million. Perfect. Hoyer is a suitable backup, particularly here where he knows the system so well. Hoyer’s familiarity with the system makes him a capable ‘break glass if needed’ type of asset, but it ends there. Dalton is a far better quarterback than Hoyer, but is he worth adding and paying more than what’s earmarked for Hoyer’s 2020 Patriots salary? Maybe a little, but not much more. The reason is the Pats can’t afford to overpay for someone who can’t offer a shot at real contention now or later. So why even kick the tires?

Remember Scott Secules?

If you don’t, consider yourself fortunate. Secules was brought in to back-up Drew Bledsoe in his rookie year of 1993. When Bledsoe wasn’t quite ready, the Foxboro faithful were subjected to the abject awfulness that was Secules, or “SERCULES” as my friend Mike used to scream at him angrily from the stands. Whatever you called him, it was bad and that lesson need only be learned once.

Having Hoyer as the sole complement to the young, unproven Stidham and all the unknowns that brings feels scarily ‘Secules-esque.’ Worse, there’s no Bledsoe to fall back on. As a rookie in 1993, Bledsoe was obviously unproven too, but he was the No. 1 overall pick in that years’ draft, highly regarded and heralded. His arrival came with hope and promise.

Stidham may deliver years of football happiness to New England but to forecast that based on his fourth-round draft status, and what we’ve seen so far would be a fool’s errand indeed. I want to see the kid play frankly, but if the redheaded security net of Dalton can be procured at the Dollar Store this spring, I for one will feel better. The price has to be right though.