Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton can’t return in 2020

With the Bengals in position to select Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow at the top of April’s draft, Andy Dalton’s future remains murky. Dalton returning to Cincinnati is a bad idea on all fronts.

The NFL’s annual game of quarterback musical chairs has started to settle down. Long time Bengals starting quarterback Andy Dalton finds himself as one of a few odd men out.

With Cincinnati seemingly ready to build the franchise around a top quarterback prospect via the top draft pick. Dalton’s fit in Cincinnati is suddenly strange.

However, because the Bengals have yet to find a trade partner, there is now some chatter about Dalton staying in Cincinnati in a mentor/backup role to someone like Joe Burrow. This would likely require Dalton to take a substantial pay cut as well.

On the surface, having a veteran backup around to help Burrow navigate the early part of his NFL life isn’t a bad idea. In fact, it is something the Bengals front office should absolutely explore. However, Dalton cannot fill that role. Dalton’s time in Cincinnati will be remembered most for what he could not do on the field. Even so, the franchise did win 70 games with him at quarterback.

The reality is Burrow is probably going to have more than a few bad halves as a rookie, especially going up against defenses like Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice with an inferior roster and coaching staff.

If Dalton sticks around, the second Burrow has a bad half, the Bengals have a quarterback controversy, intended or not. Nothing destroys a team faster. Along with the Bengals, teams like Denver, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and Miami used two or more quarterbacks for various reasons last year. None of them made the playoffs.

There are exceptions to every rule. Still, major quarterback instability generally spells bad news for team success. Dalton is well-liked and has done a lot of good in the Cincinnati community. The NFL is a business though.

If a trade has not been made by draft night at the latest, the Bengals need to release Dalton without getting anything in return. He has no football role in Cincinnati going forward that doesn’t make things awkward for all parties involved.