The 2016 NFL season is right around the corner, and the Bengals brass will be evaluating which 53 of the 90 players on the team's offseason roster will make the final roster all summer long. One of the position groups for which the decision-making process will be the easiest is quarterback, where there's no deciding to do when it comes to the 53-man roster. Instead, the decisions will be more in regards to who makes the practice squad and who gets cut completely.
Quarterbacks coach: Bill Lazor
Returning from 2015 roster: Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron
Returning from 2015 practice squad/roster: Keith Wenning
2016 addition: Joe Licata (undrafted free agency)
The offseason debate about who should start is finally over. Andy Dalton is the Bengals' starting quarterback, and he's a lock to make the roster and be the starter. 2016 should be a year of continued success for Dalton and the Bengals' sixth year quarterback will look to lead his team to their sixth-straight playoff appearance, hopefully, this time with a win. After a season that had him in the MVP conversation before injury, Dalton has done enough to stop the conversation here.
McCarron filled in admirably as Dalton missed the final quarter of the 2015 season with a fractured thumb. He's a good enough backup that there's no reason for the Bengals to even consider fielding a third quarterback on the roster. In fact, McCarron has a strong case to make as one of the top five backup quarterbacks in the NFL. The Bengals are lucky to have as good of a backup as they do under contract for another two seasons.
If, for any reason, one of the two aforementioned quarterbacks sustains an injury before the Bengals make roster cuts, Wenning would most likely make the roster. But for now, he's likely headed toward another year (and his final year of eligibility) on the practice squad. The Bengals promoted Wenning to the active roster when Dalton was injured, indicating that they feel good about his ability to play in a pinch, if needed. If Wenning fails to prove to the Bengals that he offers enough hope for the future of the organization, they could opt to cut him completely and find another quarterback to develop on the practice squad.
Licata, an undrafted free agent out of the University at Buffalo, will likely look to push Wenning for a spot on the Bengals' practice squad. He might not be favored for the spot on the practice squad, but it's worth noting that the Bengals waived former Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson to make room for Wenning on the 90-man roster. If they get the idea that Licata could be a good developmental project, they could opt to keep him on the practice squad and cut Wenning. It's unlikely both would make the practice squad though so Licata will need to prove his worth this summer to have a shot at sticking with the team.