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Cowboys sign Dalton to be Dak’s backup

DALLAS (AP) — Andy Dalton is coming home to Texas as Dak Prescott’s backup with the Dallas Cowboys.

Dalton and the Cowboys agreed Saturday to a one-year deal that guarantees the former Cincinnati starter $3 million and could be worth up to $7 million. The agreement was first reported by ESPN.

The Cowboys reached a deal with Dalton two days after he was released by the Bengals. That moved cleared the way for No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow, who led LSU to the national championship.

Dalton, born and raised in the Houston area, led TCU to an undefeated season in 2010 that included a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. The Bengals drafted him in the second round of the 2011 draft.

The Cowboys have relied on the untested Cooper Rush behind Prescott the past two seasons. The 32-year-old Dalton marks their biggest investment in a veteran backup since Prescott replaced the injured Tony Romo as a rookie in 2016 and ended up taking his job for good. Prescott, a former Mississippi State star, was a fourth-round draft pick that season and started training camp as the third-string QB before injuries to Romo and backup Kellen Moore rocketed him to the top of the depth chart.

Dalton started 133 games for the Bengals and led the franchise’s best stretch of playoff appearances — five straight from 2011-15 — but couldn’t get that elusive win.

Cincinnati lost in the first round each time, setting an NFL record. Dalton had a broken thumb and was sidelined for the last of those playoff appearances, which ended in a last-minute meltdown and an 18-16 loss to Pittsburgh during the 2015 season. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since the 1990 season.

Dalton’s 70-61-2 record as a starter is second best by a Bengals quarterback with at least 10 starts, trailing Virgil Carter. Dalton holds the club records for touchdown passes (204) and completions (2,757).

Coach Zac Taylor signaled the end of Dalton’s career in Cincinnati by benching him for three games midway through last year’s 2-14 season, a move that shocked Dalton and his longtime teammates. Dalton was upset the Bengals didn’t try to trade him before the deadline.

The Cowboys have placed the franchise tag on Prescott, who hasn’t signed the one-year tender worth about $31 million. The sides have until July 15 to get a long-term contract done.

Prescott played out his four-year rookie contract, becoming one of the NFL’s best bargains as 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowler. The 26-year-old’s representatives and the Cowboys have been working on a long-term deal for about a year.

After leading Dallas to the NFC’s top seed as a rookie in 2016 and losing his first playoff game to Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay, Prescott broke through with his first postseason victory two years later.

The Cowboys entered last season with high expectations and started 3-0 before fading to 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Dallas did not renew coach Jason Garrett’s contract and hired Mike McCarthy.