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Bengals roster breakdown, 90-in-90: Andy Dalton ready to lead

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The Bengals’ franchise quarterback is back for his seventh season.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In 2011, the Cincinnati Bengals changed the course of their franchise by trading former franchise quarterback Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders and replacing him with Andy Dalton in the draft. Since then, Dalton has developed into a very impressive quarterback and has provided the Bengals with stability at the position. He has earned three Pro Bowl berths (2011, 2014, 2016), and led the Bengals to an unprecedented five straight playoff appearances (2011-2015).

From the standpoint of winning, Dalton is already one of the most successful quarterbacks in Bengals’ history. No other Bengals franchise quarterback has a higher winning percentage than Dalton (62 percent), with the next closest being Ken Anderson (52 percent).

There have been those who critique Dalton’s inconsistency on the field and poor performances in the playoffs, where quarterbacks like Anderson and Boomer Esiason have seen success. But, there is no denying Dalton’s success in a Bengals uniform and he’s the undisputed starter heading into the 2017 NFL season.

Andy Dalton

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 216 pounds

Position: Quarterback

College: TCU

Hometown: Katy, Texas

Experience: Seventh year

Draft status: Second round pick in 2011

Cap Status

Dalton’s current deal runs through the 2020 season. In 2017, he will earn a base salary of $13,100,000, while carrying a cap hit of $15,700,000 and a dead cap value of $4,800,000. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2021, according to Spotrac.

Background

Selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, teams avoided Dalton in the first round due to his size, perceived weak arm, and lack of pocket awareness. But, from the beginning, there was never any doubt in his ability to read a defense, carry himself professionally, and make quick, smart decisions.

Early on, interceptions were a bit of a nagging problem for the young Bengals quarterback. In his first four seasons, he combined for a total of 66 interceptions to 99 touchdowns. That’s an interception for every 1.5 touchdowns.

Since then, Dalton has been much better about protecting the football. In 2015, no quarterback in the NFL attempted as many passes as Dalton (386) for less interceptions (seven). His interception total was up a little in 2016 (eight), but he threw for 25 and 18 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In context, his interception totals look phenomenal from the past two years.

2016 was also the second year Dalton broke the 4,000 yard mark in a season. The other year was 2013 when his stats (4,293 yards, 33 touchdowns, 20 interceptions) certainly warranted a Pro Bowl berth. But, guys like Andrew Luck and Alex Smith made the cut ahead of him, despite throwing for less yards and less touchdowns.

The improved accuracy from Dalton can, perhaps, be chalked up to sessions with quarterback guru Tom House and his co-worker Adam Dedeaux. Dalton has worked with House for years and with Dedeaux more recently, too. They have worked with many of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and the Bengals’ coaching staff clearly trust what they’ve done with Dalton.

Going forward, the hope is Dalton will continue building on the success he has found in the last two seasons. With a rebuilt receiving corps and a plethora of new offensive weapons to work with, you have to like his chances. That said, it would certainly help if the Bengals’ offensive line could allow him to be sacked less than the 41 times they allowed last season (second most in the NFL).

Dalton fails to receive much credit—even from Bengals fans—despite helping the franchise reach new heights and five straight playoff appearances. Granted, none of those playoff games have resulted in a win, but the hope is the Bengals will finally get the playoff win they’ve been seeking (and then some) in their 50th anniversary season with Dalton at the helm.

Roster odds: 100 percent.