Even though he was several years his junior, Andy Dalton still being in the AFC North the past two years probably still kept Ben Roethlisberger feeling young. But now with the Cincinnati Bengals releasing him and clearing the deck for first-overall pick Joe Burrow to start as soon as games are played again, Big Ben is the towering veteran in the division, and it’s not even close.
Meanwhile, what’s next for Dalton? Unlike Cam Newton, who has an injury status that could be in question without the ability for teams to directly check up on him, it wouldn’t at all be surprising if we see him quickly picked up somewhere, nor would it be a surprise if he is starting in 2020.
One team that has been excessively quiet as it concerns the quarterback position in the New England Patriots. A previous report has suggested that Bill Belichick was not interested in pursuing a ‘mid-level’ veteran quarterback. But after leaving the draft with just a college free agent arm, one has to wonder if he doesn’t suddenly have a change of heart.
And quite frankly, I didn’t expect Dalton to be released. I thought if the Bengals weren’t able to work out a trade for him, they would keep him. After all, they have the cap space, and he’s only under contract for this season. We don’t know when anybody is going to be on the field. They now have no precautions in the event that Burrow isn’t actually ready to start immediately.
And they have no compensation for Dalton. At least if he stayed on as a backup, they would likely be in-line for a third-round compensatory pick, or at least a pick in the fourth round. With his outright release, Cincinnati decided that a $17.7 million cap with no reliable backup to a rookie who isn’t going to have an offseason was worth more than a mid-round draft pick next year.
Anyway, be that as it may, expect Dalton to land on his feet. After all, Joe Flacco did last year. Nick Foles keeps landing jobs that allow him to compete as a starter, at worst. There are opportunities out that. The Denver Broncos, who traded for Flacco last year, could consider him to compete with second-year Drew Lock.
While Lock has shown promise, it’s not clear that he is a franchise guy right now. Denver just invested heavily in the wide receiver position, taking one in both the first and second rounds, and it would help to have an experienced veteran working with them.
One final note about Dalton: he was good for the Steelers. Lost a lot of games to Pittsburgh, but held his own against the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns (though who hasn’t, in the case of the latter?). Nobody, not even Roethlisberger, has thrown for more yards or for more touchdowns against the Ravens since Dalton entered the league in 2011, nor does anybody else have more wins against Baltimore. And he has two of the longest plays against them, both 77-plus-yard touchdowns to A.J. Green.