The role Andy Dalton is expected to play after signing with the Dallas Cowboys, along with the contract he agreed to is a red flag for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Late on Saturday, news broke that many were not expecting. The Dallas Cowboys signed former Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton to a 1 year, $7M contract with just $3M guaranteed. Simply put, that kind of money means he’s viewed as a backup rather than competition to take the starting role for America’s team.
That’s a problem for the Bengals. The quarterback they tapped to be the face of their franchise and laid their playoff hopes upon just signed on to be a second-string player. Not to mention, many analysts have immediately placed Dalton in the back-up quarterback category, rather than considering him as a starting-caliber player. Maybe worst of all, one quick glance at Twitter after the signing and you come away with the idea that most of the football world scoffed at the notion that the Cowboys would put their hopes in Dalton instead of paying Dak Prescott $30M plus.
Now, in all fairness, the timing of his release played a role in the way things went down. This offseason, big-name quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Philip Rivers were on the move, an unusual occurrence in the NFL. In addition, moving on from Dalton after the draft means that the majority of organizations had already worked out a solution for their quarterback situation.
Still, there were teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots who almost certainly should have opted for another team’s 9-year starter rather than the young, unproven options they possess. Yet, neither seemed to show much interest. That’s especially surprising for the Jaguars, who house Dalton’s former offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden. The duo made a number of playoff appearances together and you would think Gruden would want to re-establish that connection.
The cases of Cam Newton and Jameis Winston provide an interesting insight into the Dalton situation as well. Winston signed a one-year contract for just $1.1M. However, he’s an interception machine, throwing 30 last season. It’s also been reported he turned down a better deal to learn under Sean Peyton and Drew Brees instead.
Newton remains unsigned but he has major injury concerns surrounding his name, undoubtedly playing a role in him maintaining his free-agent status.
Dalton, on the other hand, doesn’t have any of the concerns of the two previously mentioned quarterbacks, yet was seemingly given a similar value.
It’s unlikely we’ll ever get the full details as to what the market looked like for Dalton. Perhaps he just took a less lucrative deal to remain in his home state of Texas.
However, if Dalton goes the rest of his career without finding a starting job in the NFL, that would be a major red flag for the Bengals who invested nearly a decade in a signal-caller that the rest of the league doesn’t view worthy of starting.
If he finds a new home next offseason with more time to work the open market, then it softens the blow. Especially if he finds some success in his new uniform.
Regardless, the team has shifted directions with their focus now solely on the number one overall pick, Joe Burrow. With Andy Dalton now signed to another franchise, it officially closes the past era of the Bengals and opens up a new one.