With every quarterback signing this week, options for a veteran backup quarterback decreases. That's assuming that Cincinnati even wants one; at this point, who knows. Matt Cassel, Josh McCown and Chad Henne have already signed contracts. Michael Vick is vying for a starting gig. Kellen Clemens signed with the Chargers and Charlie Whitehurst signed with the Tennessee Titans.
Cincinnati needs a backup quarterback behind Dalton and, unlike Johnson, experience with the acceptance that his primary job is to help mentor Dalton. Former Bengals safety Chris Crocker, talking with Zig Fracassi and Alex Marvez on Sirius XM NFL Radio, agrees.
But their options are dwindling.
There are two routes that Cincinnati could go, based on their overall connection with the team and/or their personnel. Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell, recently released, is a former quarterback in Oakland when current Bengals coordinator Hue Jackson was their head coach. Crickets. Moving on.
Another is former Bengals, Rams, Bills and Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was with Cincinnati in 2007 and 2008. We're not talking about a quarterback that would challenge Dalton as a starter, or be particularly effective on the field if Dalton is hurt. But as a mentor, we could see it. It's not like there's better options out there.
We don't know if the Bengals are even considering a veteran quarterback at this stage. Maybe they're content with Josh Johnson, who held station as the team's backup last season. There's the NFL draft to consider also (maybe a late-rounder to groom on the team's practice squad). Options exist for Cincinnati but a veteran quarterback to help Dalton might be the better option for the time being, especially if Cincinnati is considering a long-term extension.