Given the general understanding that any quarterback drafted after the first round is considered a crapshoot in terms of whether or not he has the potential to develop into a ‘franchise’ player, I think it would be fair to say that the Cincinnati Bengals have gotten a pretty good burn out of Andy Dalton, a second-round pick in 2011.
But it’s easy to wonder if he hasn’t run through his course with the team. While he helped lead the team to five consecutive postseasons in his first five years—for a team that rarely made the postseason prior to that—they have posted four straight losing records as well, and they finished with the worst record in the NFL last year.
That is why, of course, the Bengals hold the first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and they were widely believed to have their eye on drafting Joe Burrow out of LSU, who just completed one of the greatest college football seasons the world has ever seen, including an undefeated record and the most touchdown passes in a single season ever.
That doesn’t automatically mean it’s the end of the road for Dalton, however. He is on a relatively affordable contract, so even if they draft Burrow—which seems like a given—we don’t have to assume that means they will release Dalton, who can still be a valuable backup and mentor.
On that front, Duke Tobin told reporters down at the Senior Bowl, “we’re not going to act with haste on Andy”. He added that “Andy’s meant so much to us over the years. We still value him. He’s a proven NFL quarterback. I think other teams will value him when we start to make those decisions”.
Of course, that comment also hints at the possibility of trading him, the way the Baltimore Ravens traded Joe Flacco last year. That came a year after they drafted Lamar Jackson and he ended up starting several games and helping to turn their season around, making a postseason appearance.
Tobin pushed back on the notion that the team at an organizational level has already unilaterally made the determination that they need a new quarterback. “Point A has to happen first before we start talking about how other people might fit”, he said.
“It would depend on the player. It would depend on whether he’s a guy that can start immediately or not. So there’s a lot of moving pieces to that and we’ll figure it out as we go”.
This is all January talk, though. Once we get to March and they understand their best value in trade for Dalton is at that time, rather than after the draft, I assume they’re probably going to trade him. That’s not a guarantee, but I might place a bet in favor of being correct.