Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals can afford to keep going with Andy Dalton

The Cincinnati Bengals are hiring a new head coach for the first time in awhile, but all signs point to Andy Dalton being back as the starting quarterback in 2019.

For the first time since 2003, the Cincinnati Bengals will have a new head coach next season. They have to wait a little longer to officially hire Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, at which point a more firm plan can be put in place. But according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said the team is “very comfortable” with quarterback Andy Dalton.

Tobin didn’t rule out adding a quarterback this offseason, as part of a broader statement about being willing to add talent at every position, and Cincinnati could use the 11th overall pick in April’s draft on a signal caller. It’s unclear what Taylor’s thoughts on Dalton are, but that should become clear when he is formally introduced as head coach and is almost surely going to prompted by a media member.

But it’s easy see why the Bengals’ front office is comfortable with Dalton. To use a baseball term, he’s a replacement-level quarterback with a salary ($16 million for 2019) reflecting that. He has two years left on his contract, with no dead money to absorb if he is released. There’s nothing to prevent Cincinnati from shedding Dalton, even that’s not on the immediate table, or acquiring another veteran quarterback to compete for the starting job if they wanted to go that route. If they want a bridge to a young quarterback, Dalton’s picture might be next to the dictionary definition of that.

Prior to the thumb injury that ended his 2018 campaign early, Dalton was having a perfectly adequate season (2,566 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 61.9 percent completion rate, 89.6 passer rating over 11 games).

Perfectly adequate stands as the broader definition of Dalton’s career. But two of his best seasons came with Jay Gruden as Bengals’ offensive coordinator, and Taylor’s own acumen as an offensive mind will get an early proving ground if he winds up with Dalton as his starting quarterback.

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