The Cincinnati Bengals are at an interesting crossroads right now, which centers around two people: new head coach Zac Taylor, and veteran quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has two years left on his contract, but that contract is beyond the five-year window in which proration occurs.
That means that the Bengals are no longer tied to Dalton in any way. In other words, they can release him or trade him with no salary cap ramifications—no dead money. The question now is, do they want to, or will they want to.
So far, Taylor has been complimentary of Dalton, and has even said that he is a player that he had watched for a while. But we will have to wait and see what the Bengals actually do when they are on the clock just outside the top 10. It will be really interesting if there is a top quarterback on the board available there.
The general sense that beat writers covering the team have gotten is that the Bengals plan to give Dalton this year before making any decisions to see what Taylor can do with him. He did not play poorly before he suffered a season-ending injury about halfway through the year in 2018, and the team pretty much tanked without him (and several other key players as well).
Four quarterbacks were drafted in the top 10 last year, and five in the first round in total. That didn’t surprise Taylor. In fact, he said that he’s never surprised about anything when it comes to quarterbacks. The position is simply too important for any bold move to be a surprise.
“I don’t think I’m ever surprised at how high the quarterbacks go”, he told reporters during his pre-draft press conference. “There could be a lot of teams that often times don’t have a lot of first-round grades on guys that are going in the first round, and that’s just the nature of the business.
“It’s a critical position, so that doesn’t ever surprise me. Often times when a guy drops, you think to yourself, ‘well shoot, I should’ve had him in the second or third round anyway because that’s where he was’. I shouldn’t say that you’re ever surprised by that stuff”.
Will Taylor and the Bengals be one of those unsurprising teams? It’s not as though they don’t have other needs on the roster, and many expect them to try to target a linebacker. They could still use more offensive linemen and a wide receiver as well.