Andy Dalton has been an adequate quarterback during his tenure with the Bengals. It’s time for Cincinnati to look for more at the position.
If the Bengals are going to start challenging for AFC North supremacy, they’re going to need their offense to score enough points to keep up with the rest of the division.
That isn’t going to happen with an ordinary player under center. In other words, it’s time for the team to move on from Andy Dalton.
It’s not that the former TCU signal caller is a bad player. On the contrary, Dalton has been slightly above average for the vast majority of his career. Even this year, in the midst of the team’s 5-6 campaign, it’s hard to assign Dalton a ton of blame.
After all, he’s completing just under 62 percent of his passes. His touchdown-to-interception ratio of 21:11 isn’t great, but it’s not awful either.
Add int the fact that A.J. Green has been in and out of the lineup with a foot injury and it’s easy to make the case that Dalton has been perfectly fine.
Unfortunately for Dalton, his season also happens to be over. He may not require surgery to fix torn ligaments in his thumb, but he’s not going to be on the field again in 2018. That likely means the Bengals will quickly fall out of contention for a playoff berth.
That’s going to leave the Bengals front office with a tough decision to make in the offseason. Dalton still has two years left on the contract he signed back in 2014, but each of the next two seasons is non-guaranteed.
In other words, the Bengals can move on from Dalton with zero salary cap implications. This is a unique opportunity for the franchise to pivot away from accepting slightly above average quarterback play as acceptable.
Dumping Dalton would likely cause the Bengals to hit a hard reset on their current roster, but it’s not as if the current group of players is in a position to win anything.
The more interesting question becomes what Cincinnati might do to replace Dalton. The easy answer would be to spend next year’s first round draft pick on a quarterback of the future.
The options available in April isn’t terribly strong, but it’s very possible the Bengals could acquire a more versatile player capable of thriving in today’s NFL.
They could also choose to address the position via free agency or trade, but those options are less appealing. If the Bengals wanted to acquire a proven player at the position, it would put them in a real bind with the salary cap.
The rest of the roster isn’t close enough to contention to make that a palatable option.
Bengals fans may wish for a better end to Dalton’s career in the Queen City, but it’s time to pull the plug. It’s probably time for both Marvin Lewis and Dalton to find another team to call home in 2019.