Sticking with Red: Re-Examining Andy Dalton’s 2013 Contract

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Nov 10, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) is sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The answer is probably not.  To be fair, Dalton’s contract does make it easy for the Bengals to drop him in 2016, incurring only a cap hit of $7.2M, a number that further drops to $2.4M if the contract is terminated after 1 June of that same year.  In 2017, the cap hit drops further to $4.8M with the same post- 1 June reduction to $2.4M.  Many have simplified this as Dalton betting on himself, similar to Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco prior to the 2012 season.  Few comparisons could be more false and lacking in understanding of these two player’s contract polarity.

In truth, the genius of Dalton’s contract is extreme reduction in the active cap hit against projected cap growth.  What this means is that while Dalton incurs some risk, the Bengals actual benefit by keeping Dalton long term as it offers significantly greater flexibility for them to sign other marquee players to competitive contracts while maintaining a veteran signal caller well below market value.

This is best illustrated through example.  According to, last season Dalton’s base salary was less than $1M, made up for by signing bonuses and guaranteed money in excess of $29M.  This left his hit against 2014 cap ($133.7M) at approximately $9M, which accounted for 6.7% of the total cap number for the Bengals franchise.  This season, Dalton’s base salary is $3M with a $9.6M active cap hit against a total cap of $143.3M.  Strangely enough, Dalton’s is once again taking only 6.7% of the total cap for the franchise.  Meanwhile, during this same two-season stretch, Flacco has represented 11.1% and 10.2% of his franchise’s salary cap space, respectively.

Next: Dalton's Contract By The Numbers