Andy Dalton has come up short in big games for a long time but will stay in Cincinnati for the foreseeable future.
In Bengals land, the offseason means one sure thing, outside chatter about replacing Andy Dalton. Until he gets rid of his winless playoff record as a starter, it will not go away and is somewhat understandable.
Cincinnati has a problem though. While no one is ever going to mistake Dalton for Tom Brady, a 67-50-2 career record as a starter, 188 career touchdown passes, and being a key contributor on five playoff teams is nothing to sneeze at and certainly is not grounds to be shipped out of town.
Yes, Alex Smith put up better numbers than Dalton ever has two years ago and was replaced by Patrick Mahomes. However, while that move made the Chiefs flashier, it only got them one step further in the playoffs. Mahomes also spent a year watching and learning from Smith and Andy Reid.
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If the Bengals were to draft a rookie quarterback high, they do not have that luxury. The second Dalton has a bad half, the calls for the rookie from every angle would be too loud to ignore. The only reason Kansas City got away with it for a year is because the roster was loaded, and the team won the division.
Practically speaking, if the Bengals want to take someone like Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray in the first round, it will be difficult for them to outmaneuver teams like Jacksonville, Miami, and the Giants. These teams are far more quarterback-needy than Cincinnati, two picks ahead of them, and Miami has much more reason to move up for a signal caller than Cincinnati.
The reality is Dalton is not going anywhere for at least the next couple of years. He is still just 31, has been far from bad in his career to this point, and has an offensive-minded head coach for the first time. There may still be some top-flight football left in him.
The amount of power Bengals coaches actually have in the draft room with the Brown family has always been debatable. Frankly, it would be a disservice to first-year head coach Zac Taylor to bring in a highly touted rookie quarterback and create controversy in his first year on the job. He is better served trying to get Dalton to another level for now.
With a lackluster class of free agent quarterbacks, the draft is the only place to add impactful quarterback talent this year. Cincinnati needs to use the draft primarily to restock a defense that was bottom five in almost every major statistical category last year.
Barring a complete disaster, the Bengals won’t be anywhere near the top of next year’s board to take Tua Tagovailoa next year either. If Cincinnati does want to at least kick the tires on a replacement for Dalton, grabbing a guy like Penn State’s Trace McSorley in the late rounds is the best move for all parties involved.