This was in response to yesterday’s roundtable on weather or not Andy Dalton is the future at quarterback, and who the Bengals should target to replace him if they decide to go elsewhere.
Does Andy Dalton deserve one more year as the starter? Absolutely. A long term lucrative contract? Not yet. I would let him play his deal out like Flacco did last year. If he plays well enough to cash in, good for him and good for the Bengals. Dalton has plenty of detractors, and he has given them plenty of ammo with his erratic play.
However, amidst the erratic plays, there are also the following facts:
1) As a rookie he started every game without training camp and took a team that many picked to go 0-16 and took them to the playoffs;
2) He became only the 3rd QB in NFL history to throw 20+ TDs in each of his first 2 seasons (Marino and Peyton);
3) He became only the 2nd player in NFL history (Peyton) to throw 3,000+ yards in each of his first 3 seasons;
4) He became just the 2nd QB in Bengals history to lead the team to back-to-back playoffs (Ken Anderson);
5) He is poised to become the first QB in Bengals history to lead the franchise to 3 straight playoff appearances.
Like them or not, those are the facts. Facts don’t lie. And those facts are impressive. Don’t get me wrong, I am not sold on Dalton as the long term answer either, but he has earned the right to at least play out his contract.
With that being said, I believe the Bengals need to prepare in case Dalton is not the answer and draft a QB in one of the first three rounds (no need to go the free agency route). Therefore, if Dalton shows he is a franchise QB, the Bengals have what would hopefully be a valuable trading chip. If Dalton shows he is not a franchise QB, the Bengals have a QB that can step in and not have a large transition period.