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Bengals central priority is signing quarterback Andy Dalton long term

The Bengals haven't been very active in free agency, nor made much progress on extensions, because of the rising cost of quarterback contracts as they begin negotiations with Andy Dalton.

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The NFL world is gathering in Orlando, Florida. Owners, executives, player agents, and league officials will talk privately and publicly, discussing trades, player interests and proposed rule changes. And for the briefest of moments, owners will speak to their respective media.

Bengals President Mike Brown chatted with Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer Paul Dehner and's Geoff Hobson on Sunday and made some startling revelations.

Not only are the Bengals trying to sign Andy Dalton long-term, whether or not an extension happens is "central" to the team's offseason plans and the primary reason for their recent inactivity due to the continued raise in quarterback contracts.

"With a fixed cap there is a certain amount of money and no more," said Brown via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "You allocate that on a quarterback you have less to hand out to everybody else. It can cause attrition. We are going through a difficult time right now because we are trying to work through a deal with Andy and trying to hold back enough money in the cap to do that, yet we don't know what that is."

Holding back because of Dalton? Yes. That's our interpretation too.

When a long-term deal with Dalton is completed, Cincinnati will have a clearer picture on their projected finances to go forward with, say, extensions for A.J. Green (who is essentially here for two years with the fifth-year option) and linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

"We are going to try to get something done but I don't know if we are going to be able to or not. At some point we are going to have to do something more than just let everyone else leave waiting to get something done with that situation. We held back this year trying to put ourselves in a position to get him done. If it turns out it can't be made to work we will do something elsewhere. I don't think we plan to go another year the way we did this year."

In other words, Dalton first. Then everyone else.