Cincinnati Bengals: Moving on from Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton has created as much angst among Cincinnati Bengals fans as about any player to put on an uniform. Dalton, picked 35th overall in the 2011 NFL draft, has had as much success as any player in the same period. Sometimes, commentators want to compare Dalton to a young Peyton Manning, based on stats alone. This is all well and good, but coming off of a 19 touchdown, 17 interception year, the Bengals are poised to move on.
Cincinnati has been extremely patient with Dalton, letting him progress in this offense, and allowing him to grow over his first four years in the league. Andy Dalton has been more than serviceable, and has dominated the regular season. In fact, Dalton’s 40-23-1 regular season record is far and away better than any Bengals quarterback over a four-year span. Dalton has a lot of desirable traits and a fantastic record to boot, but the Bengals are making it clear that, if need be, they are ready to move on.
It really boils down to a numbers game. Andy Dalton will make $9.6 million in 2015, and by 2016, his contract jumps up to $13.1 million. This is an awful steep price to pay for a quarterback who seemingly can’t get over the hump. Initially when seeing Dalton’s contract, it seems the Bengals and Dalton would be married for a long time to come. But after reading between the lines, things look different.
The Bengals entered 2015 not needing a quarterback, but needing to replace potential free agent losses starting in 2016. With Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth potentially becoming free agents, the Bengals wasted no time in drafting two offensive linemen: Cedric Ogbuehi (21st overall) and Jake Fisher (53rd overall). The Bengals knew they couldn’t draft high end offensive linemen and a quarterback, so they chose the linemen this draft. That way if Andy Dalton doesn’t live up to his end of the $96 million contract he inked in August of 2014, the Bengals can cut ties, move on, and not have to worry about who is covering the new quarterback’s blindside.
Think about it, if the pieces are in place to move on from Andy Dalton, then the decision is an easy one after the 2015 season. The Bengals have not been shy in telling Dalton that 2015 is his year to make-or-break this team. If he does not perform, or does perform up to his contract, then watch closely, because the Bengals will be on the clock for a quarterback.