The 2017 Cincinnati Bengals have a number of roster spots up for grabs this year for fringe players.
Cincinnati has most of its starters nailed down, including franchise quarterback Andy Dalton, but the situation behind Dalton is quietly interesting as summer approaches.
AJ McCarron has regular and postseason starting experience, and though he didn’t play all that well against Pittsburgh in the 2015 wild card game, he did have the team on the precipice on one of its biggest wins in franchise history. Because of that and his decorated college career, there has been some significant trade talk surrounding McCarron. That’s calmed down since the draft, though anything is possible when it comes to McCarron’s future in Cincinnati (and elsewhere).
So far, Cincinnati has either balked at offers or asked for too much for McCarron’s services, but weird things happen to teams in the summer. Injuries, coaches on hot seats needing a new signal-caller and other issues allow teams to make crazy offers for players. This might be something the Bengals experience during the preseason.
Last year, the Bengals kept third string quarterback Jeff Driskel on the 53-man roster, raising some eyebrows as to why the team kept three quarterbacks all year. If McCarron is dealt, it’s very likely Dalton and Driskel are the guys they keep. But, as we also have seen from Marvin Lewis, the team has sprung for players cut in late August and early September by other teams, like Brandon Tate and Driskel. If another intriguing name gets released in September, the Bengals could shake up the position group again. But assuming that doesn’t happen, could the Bengals actually keep three quarterbacks on the roster again in 2017?
Roster lock and entrenched starter: Andy Dalton
Players to watch: Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron, Jeff Driskel
Potential wild card: AJ McCarron and possible injuries around the NFL.
Early Prediction: There is no doubt the starting job is Dalton’s—that’s not up for debate. What is up for discussion is how many signal-callers the team will keep this year. We’ve seen teams get desperate if they lose their starting quarterback and spring for a trade as the regular season nears. That’s when Mike Brown’s emergency line might start ringing for McCarron once again.
What’s interesting is the apparent high regard the coaches hold for Driskel. Last year, the Bengals needed help at some other spots, but made the curious decision to keep three quarterbacks on the final roster throughout the entire year. Even with tough decisions to make this year, the Bengals could still keep three quarterbacks again.
Because of the crowding at defensive tackle, cornerback and wide receiver, I’m inclined to believe the Bengals go back to their usual way of keeping just two quarterbacks on the final roster. Let’s not forget that McCarron has looked superb in the preseason since joining the Bengals and will likely do so again this year, prompting the team to keep a talented backup or opt to trade him for a lucrative offer. Oh, and as training camp nears, the Bengals haven’t added another new quarterback to their current roster going into the summer.
For now, the obvious duo seems to be Dalton and McCarron. But, if someone is willing to deal a high price for the former Crimson Tide National Champion in a dire situation, it could be Dalton and Driskel as the two quarterbacks on the 2017 roster.