Gone is the incessant quarterback drama of last year’s New Orleans Saints’ squad, but speculation continues to swirl around Jameis Winston.
In a worst-case scenario, Winston reverts to his old “Mr. 30-30” self and throws an obscene amount of interceptions to start the season. In an absolute worst-case scenario, Winston suffers a setback in his recovery and is ruled out for the rest of the season.
There’s a good chance the Saints would trade or acquire a new starting quarterback should Winston miss the entirety of the 2022 season, but if NOLA merely needs to give Winston an occasional breather throughout the year, backup quarterback Andy Dalton can plug in perfectly.
Other signings (Tyrann Mathieu, Jarvis Landry, etc.) seem much more significant and help patch crucial roster holes, but the Saints honestly couldn’t have found a better backup QB in Dalton.
Granted, the 34-year-old doesn’t possess long-term starting potential and expectations for him in 2022 will be kept low. The former Bengals signal-caller never amounted to much during his time in Cincinnati, yet he still won a piece of Bengals’ fans’ hearts, and that does count for something.
The Saints have a much stronger quarterback room in 2022 with Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton
Dalton’s value maxes out around four to five games — anything past that and NOLA could be looking at an ugly string of losses.
Dalton’s most recent season was with the Chicago Bears, in which he threw for 1,515 yards and eight touchdowns against nine interceptions in eight games played. Those stats definitely aren’t acceptable for a potential starter, but most would agree that Dalton represents a huge upgrade from the likes of Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian, and Ian Book.
His best comparison might be Teddy Bridgewater, when Bridgewater played as a stopgap for the Saints in 2018-2019, yet Dalton arguably carries a bit more upside.
If the Saints are serious about re-entering postseason contention, they will need to keep Jameis Winston as healthy and efficient as possible throughout the season. Should the Saints find themselves in a blowout game, or if Winston hits a snag and needs to be sidelined for a few games, Dalton can come in and provide just enough firepower to eke by and secure pivotal wins.
Don’t get us wrong — Dalton is by no means the comeback kid, nor can he hold his own against heavyweights like Tom Brady or Lamar Jackson.
Rather, Dalton’s value to NOLA is exclusively found in break-in-case-of-emergency situations, which is why the backup could be considered one of the most necessary signings this offseason.
Past 2022, the future looks bleak for Andy Dalton, but he has the potential to become an unexpected savior for the Saints this season.