Andy Dalton has been the Bengals’ starting quarterback ever since his rookie season, but 2019 may be his last year in charge of the Cincinnati offense.
Anytime a franchise makes a change at the head coaching position it’s natural for them to start evaluating their entire roster. Evidently, that’s just what the Bengals are doing with Andy Dalton. It’s very possible this season will be the last year of Dalton’s tenure in Cincinnati.
Longtime Bengals owner Mike Brown made it clear on Wednesday that his franchise has no intention of extending Dalton’s contract prior to the season. Instead, they want to see how Dalton performs in first-year coach Zac Taylor’s new offense before they make any new commitments to the 31-year-old signal caller.
Dalton’s current deal with the team runs through 2020 and he’s owed just over $16 million this season. It would be impractical for the Bengals to offload him this offseason. In essence, they don’t have a real choice of whether or not to give him a chance to thrive in Taylor’s system. Cutting him would be an exceedingly poor use of cap space by Cincinnati.
All bets are off after this season is over. In fairness to Bengals’ ownership and their front office, there’s reason to be concerned about Dalton’s future. He finished last year on injured reserve with a thumb injury and he wasn’t playing all that well prior to his injury. Add it all up and Dalton has only managed to pilot the Bengals to a record of 18-24-1 during the last three seasons.
None of that means the team shouldn’t keep an open mind regarding Dalton’s future though. 31 certainly isn’t too old to be a quality quarterback in the NFL today. Tom Brady is still playing at an exceptionally high level over the age of 40. Dalton should be evaluated this season based on his play, not his age.
Unfortunately for Dalton, he’s never been an elite NFL quarterback in terms of talent. Instead, he’s been forced to rely on his brain and throwing accuracy to succeed. That means his margin for error continues to be smaller than most of his peers. It’s difficult to imagine Dalton playing well enough in 2019 to merit a big new contract to keep him in Cincinnati.
The organization’s disinterest in giving Dalton a new deal is a prudent course of action for the Bengals, but it likely signals the beginning of the end of his time in Cincinnati. Expect the Bengals to be looking for a new quarterback next offseason.