If you were waiting for where Andy Dalton would land—and I know that you were, we all were, we have nothing else to do, after all—then your wait can now end. According to Adam Schefter, the veteran quarterback who was recently released by the Cincinnati Bengals has already landed back on his feet.
Signed to a one-year, $7 million contract that includes $3 million guaranteed, the former second-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft is now set to be the backup to Dak Prescott, on whom the Dallas Cowboys placed the franchise tag. There are no indications that this signing in any way affects Prescott’s status as the Cowboys’ starter—and it shouldn’t.
It is for Dalton, however, a return to Texas. Born and raised in Katy, in the east-mideastern part of the state, he would later attend TCU in Fort Worth, spending the majority of life in the Lone Star State. I don’t know if he grew up a Cowboys fan and dreamed of playing for them, but it’s certain a strong possibility. And if so, he now gets to live out that dream.
The Bengals opted to release the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback after selecting Joe Burrow with the first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Personally, I did not feel that they would release him, under the circumstances, only to save cap space—and lose out on an eventual comp pick in the process—but here we are, with Cincinnati dead set on starting a rookie during a year in which there may not be much of an offseason training program, and no viable alternative.
As I wrote about recently, though, the Pittsburgh Steelers will miss Dalton being in the AFC North. He was able to beat up on the Cleveland Browns. Nobody else in the league since 2011 won more games (eight, versus Ben Roethlisberger’s six) against the Baltimore Ravens. And yet he did about as well against the Steelers as the Browns did against him. Couldn’t ask much more than that from a division rival.
The Bengals have only made 14 playoff appearances in franchise history. Dalton is responsible for five of them, taking them to the postseason in each of his first five seasons. The only other time in their history during which they made the postseason in consecutive years was in 1981, losing in the Super Bowl, and 1982, a one-and-done Wildcard blowout loss to the New York Jets.
Despite the numerous trips to the postseason, the Bengals fell short in each of Dalton’s five trips there, most excruciatingly in the last go-around of 2015, for which the Steelers—and Roethlisberger, and Vontaze Burfict—can be thanked. In Dalton’s defense for that game, he was injured and did not play. They probably win if he does.
That was the best Bengals team since the 1988 crew that Steve Wyche took to the Super Bowl in 1988. Amazingly, it would be just two years after that in which Cincinnati would win its most recent playoff game, a 1990-season Wildcard blowout against the Houston Oilers. 30 years without a postseason victory.
Dalton put them in position for five shots at another, but they couldn’t get over the hump. Injuries, key departures—including the decimation of the offensive line—and organization stagnation saw to that brief era of success going to waste, as they’ve won just 21 games over the past four years.