As the details of the highly publicized Colin Kaepernick contract came out, including $61 million guaranteed, it now seems a similar contract makes sense for Andy Dalton as well. On the surface it seems absurd to give a quarterback with zero playoff wins in three tries $61 million guaranteed.
However, only about $13 million of Kaepernick's deal is guaranteed at signing with the rest coming throughout the length of the deal. This is to say that the $61 million in "guaranteed" money is only guaranteed if certain conditions are met, protecting the team against injuries. Furthermore, the team is not locked into the entirety of the deal, meaning that if Kaepernick fails to perform, the team can release him without a huge hit.
Dalton's camp reportedly wants an annual salary of around $18 million per year, somewhat high for a player who is perceived as middle-of-the-road quarterback. However, people fail to remember that Dalton has made the playoffs every season he has been part of the team.
Pundits and fans alike tend to give much of this credit to A.J. Green. As Pro Football Focus (and an earlier CJ article) has pointed out, Green's drop rate of 10.6% is hardly elite. Granted, he makes some of the most spectacular plays any receiver can make, but he does have a tendency to give up on balls he could bat down and often drops the "easy catches".
Green alone is not the reason for Dalton's success. Last season the Bengals had six players with 455 or more receiving yards. This demonstrates Dalton's ability to spread the ball around and get the team's numerous playmakers involved on a regular basis.
Too often it seems as if Dalton is punished by fans and the media for having so many weapons, yet he is one of the few quarterbacks with the ability to successfully involve such a high number of them on a regular basis. Additionally, only Peyton Manning and Cam Newton have been as productive through their first three seasons as Dalton (although it seems Russell Wilson will pass all of them this upcoming year).
The issue with Dalton ultimately rests with his perceived inability to win "big games". There is definitely validity in this argument, but right now the sample size is too small to paint a complete picture. In my mind, a contract similar to Kaepernick's makes complete sense.
Ideally, it would offer Dalton the ability to earn his desired $18 million per year, but only if certain objectives are met (preferably tied to playoff wins). At this point in time, Dalton has not solidified his status as a legitimate "face-of-the-franchise" quarterback.
On the other hand, few quarterbacks have done as much in as little time as he has and NFL quarterbacks are hard to find (realistically there are probably only 18 or so guys who are adequate NFL starters and Dalton is one of them).
Basically, Dalton deserves to get paid close to what he wants, but only if the deal is structured in a manner that protects the team should Dalton fail live up to the expectations of a borderline "top-tier" quarterback. This way Dalton will be happy, but if he cannot make the leap the team is not handcuffed to him for the better part of a decade.
Any thoughts on to how a deal should be structured, or if he should even get a new deal at all?