Cincinnati Bengals: 2019 is more about Andy Dalton than anything else
By Steve Rivera
The central story-line for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019 will be how much longer they plan on staying with veteran quarterback Andy Dalton.
The 2019 NFL preseason kicks off this week with a full slate of games, including the Cincinnati Bengals playing at an AFC favorite, the Kansas City Chiefs. It is also the beginning of what looks more and more like a year-long evaluation of a veteran quarterback who may be on borrowed time.
Let’s have a moment of honesty here. Quarterback Andy Dalton may eventually be a QB looking over his shoulder at some point this season. At 31, Dalton is playing for a first-time head coach who may want to seek greener QB pastures in 2020. It’s no knock on the veteran from TCU, as he may be a player who benefits a team in a “win now” kind of window versus a team on the cusp of a potential rebuild.
Clearly, the schedule that the Bengals will face this season may answer a lot of questions before the team even gets to December. If Cincinnati is looking at another 6-10 season or worse, Dalton will likely give way to Ryan Finley for a closer evaluation as to whether the NC State alum is a good fit. Such a move could also serve as an indicator that Zac Taylor might go shopping for a quarterback in what will be a good 2020 class of signal-callers.
For fans fully vested in Dalton, you need to take the longer view. With two seasons left on a waning deal and no guaranteed money, moving on from the veteran won’t be difficult. In fact, 2019 should be what it most likely is: an audition. Even the most diehard of fans know that if the season gets upside down, keeping Dalton on the field or in the plan beyond the season finale at home against the Cleveland Browns is a fool’s errand.
If Taylor is the future in Cincinnati, then Dalton won’t be and shouldn’t be part of the long-range planning. He has never won a playoff game and is trending more towards mediocrity these days than those in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL. At some point this season, Dalton will face the inevitable, and that is life beyond the Bengals.
As the team gets ready to ramp up the 2019 exhibition season, Dalton should know he’s not playing for a future in Cincinnati. The future is Taylor, and the quarterbacks playing on a college campus on Saturday’s this fall.