As it turns out, Dalton could not have returned in January.
Dalton indicated this week that his thumb is finally healthy, but he's going to hold off on throwing for now.
"Not throwing yet because we are being very conservative with it," Dalton said in a text to Geoff Hobson of the team's official website. "I feel like I can throw but no reason to push anything right now. I have plenty of time now to get 100 percent."
An MVP candidate through midseason, Dalton has a chance to build on his 2015 success by returning for offseason workouts beginning April 18.
It will be an interesting offseason for Dalton's offense, with quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese replacing Hue Jackson at coordinator and wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu slated for free agency.