At some point, we have to marvel at how the Cincinnati Bengals are even at 5-3 right now. Issues on the defense aside, the immense amount of injuries to critical players has been borderline outrageous.
Every NFL team that has an established starting quarterback walks the fine line of the risk of injury to their signal-caller. With the new rules protecting the position, the risk is lessened, but one fluke play can dramatically change the course of a season. The Bengals know this all too well.
Cincinnati is in a good state at the position with Andy Dalton at the helm and he came into Week 9 tied for third in touchdown passes. But, most fans remember what happened in his MVP-like 2015 season, where Dalton missed the final four contests, including the heartbreaking Wild Card loss. Dalton has also been one of the more durable quarterbacks in the league.
Currently, behind Dalton at the backup quarterback spot is the enigmatic Jeff Driskel. The third-year player has a lot of athleticism and upside, but he may be nothing more than a career backup in the NFL.
Recently, the Arizona Cardinals released veteran quarterback and former No. 1 overall pick, Sam Bradford. Might he be a logical option to back up Dalton for the remainder of 2018?
There is one major issue with Bradford and his playing career going forward, though. The health of his left knee is apparently not in great shape:
As we said on Sunday NFL Countdown, Sam Bradford had not practiced for previous 5 weeks in Arizona because that left knee is basically bone on bone. No cartilage on the knee that had two ACL repairs. https://t.co/pMpOoYhQvE— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) November 5, 2018
Yes, we realize that the team may have more pressing needs at tight end, offensive line and wide receiver at the moment, but quarterback remains the most important position on a football team.
Let’s be clear on a few things here while exploring this hypothetical:
1.) Dalton has played some of the best football in his professional career. In fact, one could argue that this is second-finest season under center behind 2015. A Bradford signing is not a call to replace Dalton as the starter by any means, but rather a contingency option should No. 14 suffer an unfortunate injury with the Bengals still in the playoff hunt.
2.) The Bengals could be at a crossroads in the very near future, in terms of a decision of the direction of the season should Dalton get injured (we hate even continuing to talk about this scenario, by the way).
With A.J. Green’s future for the season up in the air at the moment, losing a starting quarterback could put this campaign in a quick tailspin. So, do you let it spiral out of control, hope for another high pick and then make a possible coaching change? Or, do you find a possible stopgap under center and try to scrape together wins, as some of these guys get healthy?
3.) While Bradford isn’t probably high on a fan’s wish list, we have to remember that the Bengals let the trade deadline go by without making a move. So, their options are very limited at this point.
4.) Bradford will need to be willing to come into a situation where he’s likely to never see a significant snap this year. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, most have labeled Bradford “the master of free agency” and/or the luckiest guy to ever play in the NFL.
Sam Bradford’s career statistics:
Games played/started: 83
Starting record: 34-48-1
Passing yards: 19,449
Completion percentage: 62.5
And just for good measure:
Career earnings: $130,022,863
Reasons for bringing him to Cincinnati:
Solidifying the backup spot: As we mentioned, if the Bengals feel that they are still close to a playoff berth and something happens to Dalton, nobody is certain about Driskel’s ability to lead the squad. Sure, the Bengals obviously like him and he’s flashed in the preseason, but that has come largely against backups.
If something were to happen to Dalton, they could pass the torch on to Bradford, who, if Cincinnati’s skill positions return soon, may have the most weapons he’s ever had at his disposal.
A contingency plan for continued competitiveness: This is pretty self-explanatory. If Green, Giovani Bernard, John Ross and Tyler Kroft all come back to play and contribute, this team still has realistic playoff chances (especially with Dalton continuing to be in the lineup). A veteran like Bradford could come in and continue to be effective if called upon this season.
The AJ McCarron example: One could argue that this plays into both the pro-Driskel or pro-Bradford sides, but as we mentioned before, Cincinnati was in this predicament a few years ago. The difference between McCarron and Driskel was that the former was a National Champion and a guy who some believed had fringe starting ability, whereas there are no rumblings of that with Driskel.
When McCarron came in for Dalton at the end of 2015, he finished with a 2-2 record (including the postseason) but he was mere seconds away from being 4-0. Aside from McCarron playing relatively well, he also leaned on a stacked roster. While the 2018 team isn’t as loaded (especially with the injuries), Bradford will have talent around him.
Should the Bengals look at bringing Sam Bradford in to back up Andy Dalton?
This poll is closed