Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has had the same backup his entire career, Bruce Gradkowski, until now. Gradkowski signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Bengals are in the market for a backup quarterback. They may look to the draft for Dalton's new backup, but they could still sign a free agent.
There are several good backup quarterback candidates still available in free agency, though many have already been signed.
ESPN ranked free agent quarterbacks available as follows:
- Kevin Kolb
- Jason Campbell
- Brian Hoyer
- Josh Johnson
- Charlie Batch
- Rex Grossman
- Kellen Clemens
- Byron Leftwich
- Tyler Thigpen
- Josh McCown
- Brady Quinn
- Luke McCown
- Caleb Hanie
- Matt Leinart
- Jordan Palmer
We can go ahead and cross out Kolb as the Bengals aren't going to sign somebody looking to start and looking for starting money to back up Dalton. Of all these quarterbacks, the only one the Bengals did express some sort of interest in was Johnson, bringing him in for a visit.
Johnson's ESPN (In$ider) scouting report on Johnson says that he's a talented and athletic quarterback that has learned to take what the defense gives him and has improved when it comes to reading coverages.
Johnson is a good-sized quarterback with athleticism, above-average speed and explosiveness. He has a nice, compact delivery that allows him to get the ball off quickly once he decides to pull the trigger. He has also improved on how quickly he can make decisions. He can read coverages and is starting to learn how to look defenders off and avoid leading coverages to his primary target. He has a live arm that the ball will jump off of but lacks the cannon to drive the ball through small windows when throwing the deep- to intermediate-out patterns. He still tries to force some passes and needs to learn to take what the defense is willing to give him.
A guy like Johnson could be a good fit, as would many of the quarterbacks on this list. However, whoever it is that they sign, like Gradkowski, they should know that Dalton is the team's quarterback and it's likely that the only way they get on the field is if Dalton is injured or if the team's winning or losing by enough points that the game is over already.
While the Bengals may sign one of these guys as a free agent, it's just as likely that they'll draft a backup quarterback.
Which route would you take? Would you draft a backup or sign a free agent and which one?