- Bengals release Andy Dalton after nine seasons
- Cincinnati could not afford to keep Dalton’s hefty salary while also signing all of their draft picks due to salary cap restrictions
- Jaguars (+200) and Patriots (+300) early favorites to sign Dalton
On Thursday, the Cincinnati Bengals officially released longtime quarterback Andy Dalton. The move comes exactly a week after the team took former LSU QB Joe Burrow with the top overall pick in the draft. Now, it seems inevitable that Burrow will be the Bengals’ starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2020 season.
Dalton had been Cincinnati’s starter since he was drafted in the second round out of TCU back in 2011. The veteran had been scheduled to make $17.7 million next season in the final year of a six-year deal he signed back in 2014 worth $96 million. However, the Bengals didn’t have enough room under the salary cap to afford both Dalton and its entire incoming rookie class, so this move hardly comes as a surprise.
Dalton’s Track Record
The Bengals made the playoffs five times during Dalton’s tenure, but he never led them to a playoff victory. The 32-year-old leaves the team as the Bengals’ all-time passing touchdowns leader (204). He passed Ken Anderson (197) for the franchise lead just last season. He is also second behind Anderson in total passing yards (31,594).
ESPN’s Josina Anderson previously reported that the Bengals had tried to trade Dalton, but they couldn’t find a taker for his hefty salary. He started 13 games for Cincy last season, and he said after the team’s win over the Browns in the season finale that he was aware that it could have been his final appearance for the only pro franchise he has ever known.
And just like that, with the release of Andy Dalton, $17.7 million comes off the Bengals’ salary cap. https://t.co/oQ69H6Uyou
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 30, 2020
After the win, Dalton said, “This city has been our home since I got drafted here, and this city’s meant a lot. I’m thankful for all the people that we’ve met. There’s been a lot of good people in Cincinnati who have pushed me, my wife and my family to be better people, and we’re grateful for that.”
Dalton finishes his time with the Bengals with a record of 70-61-2 as the starter, but he has not led the team to the playoffs since 2015. They lost in the Wild Card Round in each of their appearances in the postseason from 2011 through ’15. The losses came at the hands of the Texans (twice), Chargers, Colts and Steelers. Cincy still hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991, which is the longest current streak in the league. Dalton has completed 62 percent of his passes with 118 interceptions in his career.
Bengals’ Active Offseason
Following a dismal 2-14 season, the Bengals have tried to actively improve the roster this offseason. Dalton’s departure combined with the release of four other big-money players has saved the team just under $42 million in cap space.
Cincinnati was a big spender in free agency, bringing in over $145 million worth of players in an attempt to improve the on-field product next season. Cornerback Trae Waynes, defensive tackle DJ Reader, safety Vonn Bell, guard Xavier Su’a-Filo and corner Mackensie Alexander are a few of the new faces.
Burrow will be competing with Ryan Finley for the team’s No. 1 QB job in 2020, but it would be a major surprise if the former Heisman Trophy winner didn’t ultimately get the nod. Burrow threw a record 60 touchdowns last season for LSU in helping lead the Tigers to a perfect 13-0 record and a national title.
Jags, Pats Odds-On Favorites for Dalton
Where Dalton lands next remains to be seen. Jameis Winston signed a one-year deal with the Saints earlier this week, which leaves Cam Newton as the only other big-name QB still on the free agent market. Newton has more injury question marks than Dalton does, which may expedite the process for the Red Rifle to find a new home.
The Jaguars are listed as +200 favorites to sign the veteran. Jacksonville traded Nick Foles to Chicago earlier this offseason, and the only quarterbacks on the current roster are Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton and Josh Dobbs. Minshew showed flashes as a rookie last season while Foles missed time with an injury, but it remains to be seen whether he can hack it as the full-time starter.
If nothing else, adding Dalton would give Jacksonville a viable safety net if Minshew struggles.
The Patriots (+300) could also be a landing spot. New England didn’t address quarterback in the draft, which was a bit of a surprise considering Tom Brady is now a Buccaneer. Bill Belichick seems somewhat confident in Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-rounder from last year that has attempted a grand total of four passes at the NFL level. Veteran Brian Hoyer signed with New England earlier this offseason, as well.
The Seahawks (+450), Broncos (+700), Cowboys (+900), Cardinals (+1000), Rams (+1200) and Steelers (+1500) are a few other teams that could sniff around with regard to Dalton, but the Jags and Patriots look like more logical landing spots.