If Duke Tobin could pick out the perfect time to trade Andy Dalton, it would most likely occur within the first few days of the free agency period. The benefit of completing the transaction at this time is two-fold.
First, the team may be able to catch another organization in a desperate situation. The previously mentioned free-agent quarterbacks will most likely be the first dominos to fall. As teams generally build around the skills of their signal-callers, they’ll want to secure the position before pouring money into other units.
If an opposing general manager finds themselves with a roster capable of competing in the post-season, with the only missing piece behind center, they’ll be willing to relinquish plenty of resources to ensure they can make a run. However, if they fail at luring one of the big names on the market to their team due to the initial frenzy, they may call Cincinnati as their next option, giving Tobin leverage.
It’s important to not overlook the fact that teams typically overpay to beat out the competition to sign a player early in free agency. While some of the options on the market may be more enticing than Dalton, their price tag could quickly rise above a level that front office personnel is unwilling or unable to reach, leaving the 9-year veteran as the best option.
Secondly, moving Dalton in the first few days of free agency clears up his $17.7 million cap hit, allowing the front office to utilize that money to bring in outside help. The linebacker and offensive line rooms could certainly use the additional investment.