The Cincinnati Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis will not use an early pick in the 2014 NFL draft on quarterback Andy Dalton’s replacement.
The news can be filed under the “obvious” category, but there are those in the NFL community who believe the Bengals would be better off doing so with the team’s perceived championship window slowly closing and the TCU product the main thing holding the team back.
There is merit to this argument, as Dalton’s limitations have certainly put a hindrance on the team, which is now 0-3 with Dalton as a starter in the postseason (perhaps the real focus should be on Lewis, who is now a stunning 0-5).
Lewis and the Cincinnati front office have been widely expected to ride out the final year of Dalton’s contract, which is even moreso the case with Jay Gruden gone — which leaves the slim possibility that Gruden was the one holding Dalton back.
Lewis confirmed Jan. 20 on The Coaches Podcast with Brian Billick that the team will not be drafting a quarterback high, although other offensive positions outside of the wide receiver spot were a distinct possibility.
The main nugget of information was another expected one, with Lewis essentially confirming the approach will once again be best player available. When it comes to the quarterback position, a signal-caller will simply not be the best player on the board where the Bengals select in the first.
This expected news in no way eliminates the chance of the Bengals taking a talent in the mid rounds to groom if Dalton has another erratic season. Names such as Georgia’s Aaron Murray, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo stick out as candidates should the Bengals choose to go that route.
Continuity has been a theme in Cincinnati for quite some time. Lewis was adamant in his support of Dalton earlier in the month, per ESPN’s Coley Harvey:
“I believe in his abilities, I believe in his makeup, I believe in his maturity. And I believe in his ability to let the last play go and move on to the next play. That’s probably one of his best attributes of all.”
At the end of the day, the best move for the franchise is to avoid quarterbacks early — provided a name such as Teddy Bridgewater unrealistically takes a nosedive down the board. Speaking of unrealistic, those whispers around the community of selling the farm to trade up for a name like Bridgewater are just that — no point in losing a plethora of current and future talent when the team is going to have a hard time keeping its own players in free agency this offseason.
Cincinnati will beef up another position early, but expect a quarterback in the mid rounds. Josh Johnson won’t stick around, especially with Gruden gone. A rookie selection also shows wideout AJ. Green that the Bengals are not committed to Dalton long-term unless he shows improvement — which may be a key factor in extension talks with Green.
For those who want a quarterback early, go ahead and forget about it. Dalton is the starter in Cincinnati for at least one more season — as he should be.