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Mac Engel: In his 13th NFL season, Andy Dalton says, ‘I view myself as a starter in this league’

From Cam Newton, Colin Kaepnerick all the way to Greg McElroy, the 12 quarterbacks selected in the 2011 NFL Draft are a wonderful Where They Are Now?

Two remain in the league, including a certain red head who is not too nice for his own good.

Andy Dalton is not the best quarterback from the class of 2011, or controversial, but teams keep signing him to nice contracts for a reason.

“I view myself as a starter in this league; I don’t think there are 32 guys better than me,” Dalton said in a recent phone interview. “But this is the situation I am in, and I understand that. As soon as I don’t think I’m one of the best 32, or a little lower, I’ll be watching football on TV.”

He is 35 years old, the last player from TCU’s Rose Bowl winning team in the NFL.

In March, the Panthers signed Dalton to a two-year, $10 million contract. He will backup the top pick from the 2023 draft, Alabama’s Bryce Young.

Whatever you think of Andy Dalton, he has done what few do: Last in the NFL. He is going into his 13th NFL season as a quarterback, and he has made … a lot of money.

Whatever you think of Andy Dalton, you put some respect on that man’s name.

Safe to say Cam Newton would like to be Andy Dalton these days. The same for Chase Daniel, Colt McCoy and few others.

The odds of being a top quarterback in the NFL are lightning-strike terrible. The odds of securing long-term job security as backup NFL quarterback are worse.

Considering where Dalton is, he could last for several more years, too.

“I am in a really, really good situation here; (head coach) Frank Reich played til he was 38. He was a career backup,” Dalton said. “He understands the continuity you want in a (quarterback) room. (Panthers quarterbacks coach) Josh McCown played until he was 40.

“Josh was my friend for the last 10 years, and now he’s my coach.”

Dalton continues to sign NFL contracts for a variety of reasons, one primarily being people like the man. He’s not a problem. He’s a veteran who gets it. He’s an adult, something he’s been since he stepped foot on TCU’s campus in 2006.

He can provide some insight, and with limited practice reps play a game or two and give his team a chance to win. These are the necessary qualities to be an NFL backup.

Last season with the Saints, Dalton started 14 games and New Orleans finished 6-8. Statistically he played well, but the Saints finished 7-10.

Dalton has started 85 games since 2016, and his teams have not posted a winning season in that stretch.

The 2015 season will likely remain Dalton’s “What If?” season; his Bengals were 10-3 in his starts, but he suffered a hand injury late in the year that knocked him out and neither he, nor the team, were the same.

“I look back at the last couple of years and some of the situations didn’t turn out the way I would have liked,” he said of stints with the Bears, Cowboys and Saints. “Last year, I felt personally I felt I played good football, but we didn’t win as many games and that is the most important thing.

“I have confidence in who I am as a player. Not a lot of people can say, ‘This is Year 13 in the NFL.’ I feel good about where I am. It’s fun to be in this position, to help the next generation of quarterbacks.”

That’s how long Dalton has been in the NFL. He’s the old man in the room.

“When I first went to college, the iPhone wasn’t even a thing. My first year (playing at TCU), the iPhone came out,” he said. “Apps weren’t even a thing. Now, you can get on your phone and give someone money.”

Dalton is part of a generation of college athletes who barely missed out on the quick cash world of NIL.

There is now an app called where one can watch a college sporting event, log on, and pay your favorite player money. Think of it as a car payment for your favorite running back’s gold Trans Am.

Like almost everything else 13 years ago, such developments and creations weren’t even fantasy.

But, they’re here, a part of our sports landscape, no different than Andy Dalton is a part of the NFL.

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