When free agency opened this offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals made it a priority to sign a veteran quarterback with significant starting experience.
No, they weren't looking for someone to challenge Andy Dalton, but instead to mentor him and help assist in his development entering his fourth year in the NFL.
Dalton has started 51 games (playoffs included) in his first four seasons, but surprisingly there were several QBs available this offseason that had not only more NFL years under their belt, but had also started more games.
Mark Sanchez (62 starts), Michael Vick (109), Matt Cassel (68), Ryan Fitzpatrick (77) and Jason Campbell (79) were all available this offseason, though the Bengals reportedly narrowed their options down to Campbell and Fitzpatrick.
It was Campbell who ultimately got the job. Even through three preseason games, it's still too early to tell if the Bengals made the right or wrong decision going with Campbell.
Through two preseason games, Campbell has completed 13/29 passes (44.8%) for 130 yards (4.48 yards per attempt) and 2 TDs vs. 2 pick-sixes.
As for Fitzpatrick, he's completed 25/43 (58.1%) for 232 yards (5.40 ypa) and 1 TD vs 2 interceptions in three games.
Campbell also missed one game due to an elbow injury, which is reflective of his injury-prone past. Over the past three season, Campbell has played in only 21 games. While part of that was due to him having fewer opportunities to start, various injuries also cost him a number of starts (like Oakland in 2011, which sprung the Carson Palmer trade).
As for Fitzpatrick, he's been durable throughout his career, and that's been evidenced by his 41 starts over the past three seasons while missing none due to injury.
Hopefully for the Bengals, none of this comes into play this year. However, if Dalton does go down with an injury, it's clear that Campbell is not someone the Bengals can yet be confident in starting multiple games, nor can they count on him staying healthy if he has to start for a significant part of the season.