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2016 Cincinnati Bengals Offseason Outlook: Quarterback

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For the first time in the last two offseasons, the discussion of the quarterback position will revolve around what to do with the backup, not the starter, and that will be refreshing.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, leading up to the start of free agency and the draft, we will take a look back at each Bengals position group, how those players performed in 2015, their outlook for 2016 and whether or not the position will likely see any influx/departure of talent via free agency or the draft.

We start our offseason outlook by taking a look at the quarterback position. While undoubtedly the most important (and most debated) position on the team, the Bengals have a stable quarterback position and are in a great hands moving forward.

2015 Recap:

Player

G

Record

Yds

TD

INT

Comp. %

YPA

Rating

QBR

Andy Dalton

12

10-2

3,250

25

7

66.1%

8.4

106.2

73.1

AJ McCarron

5

2-3

854

6

2

66.4%

7.2

97.1

64.4

Keith Wenning

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

There was a lot of talk in the preseason about some people believing Andy Dalton should be benched and that AJ McCarron would be named the starter by season's end. As silly as that talk was, Dalton quickly put it to bed by helping lead the team to the best start (8-0) in franchise history and putting together an MVP-caliber season which had to have even his strongest supporters (and coaches) surprised. If not for a freak injury to the thumb on his throwing hand, Dalton likely would have lea the Bengals to the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC and broken the franchise records for wins, yards, touchdowns, interceptions and QBR. Unfortunately, Dalton never played after the first quarter of Week 14.

The only good thing to come from Dalton's injury was that the Bengals got an extended look at McCarron in the toughest of situations and against a few of the best teams in AFC. As a result, they know they have a very reliable backup and a possible trading chip down the line. In total, the Bengals quarterbacks combined to complete more than 66 percent of their passes, throw for 4,000+ yards and throw 31 touchdowns to just 9 interceptions. That is a very good year.

2015 Depth Chart/Contract Numbers:

QB

Player

Depth Chart

Age

Status

Likelihood to Re-Sign

2015 Cap Hit

2016 Cap Hit

Dead Money

Signed Thru

1

Andy Dalton

QB1

28

Signed

N/A

9,600,000

13,100,000

7,200,000

2020

2

A.J. McCarron

QB2

25

Signed

N/A

555,413

645,413

90,826

2017

3

Keith Wenning

PS

24

Signed

N/A

76,764

525,000

0

2016

In terms of quarterback talk, the 2016 offseason should be far less annoying than 2015. Sure, there will still be a small pocket of "crazies" claiming that McCarron should start, but there is no debate among knowledgeable football folk that Dalton is and should be the unquestioned starter for the foreseeable future.

However, there will be plenty of talk this offseason about what to do with McCarron. While filling in for Dalton, he proved that he can be a starter in the NFL, and while the Bengals can feel comfortable should Dalton go down again, the question becomes, what could the Bengals get for McCarron via a trade? And should they trade him? My opinion is that with the rate at which injuries occur in the NFL - 2015 was a great reminder - teams need a reliable backup, and therefore they should keep McCarron... unless they get an offer they can't refuse - like the Carson Palmer deal.

What would that look like? For me, there are two offers I would be willing to take: 1) If they were to be offered a first round pick, I would take it. 2) If a team drafting in the top 10-15 offered to swap first round picks and trade their second round pick, I would take that as well. Otherwise, I would keep McCarron. I don't think they will be offered such a deal for McCarron, but it is possible. In 2007, the Falcons traded Matt Schaub to the Texans for a 2007 and 2008 second round pick and a swap of 2007 first round picks. In my opinion, McCarron is a much better pro prospect than Schaub ever was and has game tape to prove it, unlike Schaub did.

For those of you thinking Hue Jackson is going to trade with the Bengals for McCarron, don't waste your time. It would be a cold day in hell before Mike Brown would ever approve a trade to the Browns...especially a quarterback who could become a solid starter.