Andy Dalton Sought Trade Options Just Before Deadline After Being Told He’s Being Benched

With the Cincinnati Bengals, now at 0-8 on the season and already guaranteed a non-winning campaign, heading into their bye week, first-year head coach Zac Taylor made the decision to pull the trigger: he is benching nine-year veteran starting quarterback Andy Dalton in favor of the quarterback that he drafted, fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley, who will turn 25 the day after Christmas.

Dalton, a second-round draft pick in 2011, helped the Bengals climb out of a hole, sending them to the postseason for five consecutive year from 2011 through 2015, but they have failed to post a winning record since then, let alone go back to the playoffs.

The downfall has been coupled with a number of changes, including but not limited to the dismantling of the offensive line, injuries to both Dalton and star wide receiver A.J. Green, the inability to retain wide receivers in free agency, and the loss of Hue Jackson as offensive coordinator, under whose system Dalton had the most success.

According to Paul Dehner, he told reporters yesterday that while he doesn’t “agree with the decision”, he is “going to do everything I can to help the team”. He also said that his agent attempted to seek alternatives on the trade market, but with the decision coming so close to the trade deadline, it wasn’t particularly feasible. He told reporters that he just wants to play.

Dalton is in the fifth year of a six-year, $96-million contract extension that he signed in 2014. Because more than five years have passed since signing, the proration of the guaranteed money that he earned is already passed, so the team is in no way beholden to him. They can release him without accruing any dead money charge for 2020.

Chances are, they will do in March what the Baltimore Ravens did with Joe Flacco, trading him to get whatever they can for him. Whether or not the Bengals make the determination that Finley is their guy, they have made it abundantly clear that Dalton is not. And he is at least better than Flacco at this stage in their respective careers.

On the season, Dalton has completed 204 of 338 pass attempts (he was on-pace to throw 674 passes this year) for 2252 yards, with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. Three of those interceptions came against the Jacksonville Jaguars two weeks ago.

To give you some perspective about what he is playing behind, however, consider the fact that he was sacked just 21 times in 11 games last year before a thumb injury ended his season. In eight games in 2019, he has been dropped 29 times, which was a pace of 58 sacks on the season.

Finley will be dealing with (roughly) the same offensive line. But at least they will have the opportunity to get a long look at him prior to 2020 to give them the chance to decide if they still need to go out and find another quarterback. Given that they will likely be drafting in the top two or three, chances are good they will be scouting the position heavily.

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