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Bengals Bytes (2/21): A quarterback change was never close

The Bengals were never close to swapping out Andy Dalton for AJ McCarron, and now they will be looking for a new backup quarterback.

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Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

New 2018 NFL mock draft has Bengals gambling on QB Josh Allen
By all accounts, the Cincinnati Bengals are sticking with quarterback Andy Dalton in 2018 and beyond after bringing back head coach Marvin Lewis on a two-year deal. Don’t tell that to a fresh 2018 NFL mock draft. The latest notable offering comes from’s Charles Davis, who has the Bengals taking a huge risk on Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen: “They need help at a number of spots, but the Bengals might not be able to resist hitting the reset button for the future with this strong-armed Cowboy.”

Here's how John Ross can make Andy Dalton a top 10 quarterback
It was pretty clear to anyone that watched a Bengals game this year that their offensive line was bad. Rate them by nearly any metric (eye test, total penalties, number sweat beads watching Myles Garrett come off the end), and things will look not so great. One of the most compelling metrics to look at when evaluating quarterbacks is Time to Throw (TT) or the average amount of time between a snap and pass attempt. In 2017, Andy Dalton was at 2.48s. That was third fastest in NFL, behind only Brian Hoyer and Blaine Gabbert (who attempted about half as many throws as Dalton).

Bengals ‘never came close’ to swapping out Andy Dalton with AJ McCarron
For those wondering if the Cincinnati Bengals ever seriously thought about yanking Andy Dalton off the field in favor of AJ McCarron, well, don’t. McCarron didn’t snag playing time away from Dalton unless the starter was hurt or a game got out of hand, though it’s hard to blame fans for wondering if the thought ever crossed the minds of the coaching staff.

Despite surprising snap-count rank, Bengals didn’t play rookies enough in 2017
Yet Bengals fans should know where this is going. John Ross, the No. 9 pick, hardly saw a chance all year despite an offense desperate for his skill set. Running back Joe Mixon had to watch Jeremy Hill eat a notable number of snaps to start the year. Third-round pick Jordan Willis was rotational at best, while the Bengals protected Carl Lawson from an every-down role. The coaching staff also saw it fit to throw more snaps at Brandon LaFell as opposed to talented fourth-round wideout Josh Malone.

AJ McCarron, unrestricted free agent, considered by several NFL teams
Where soon-to-be unrestricted free agent quarterback AJ McCarron will land this NFL offseason is anybody's guess - but there is plenty of speculation, with the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and New York Jets among the teams mentioned most often. First, here's what The Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski said Tuesday morning about McCarron on the Bengals Beat Podcast.

Hobson's Choice: who fits size 12?
I can’t seem taking a linebacker that high even if they needed one. It’s just not in their DNA. Since they took Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons both in the first round in 1998, the only backer they’ve taken that high is Keith Rivers in 2008. David Pollack was a college defensive end moved to linebacker in 2005. I think for them in this day and age a spot that high is reserved for corners, pass rushers and D-tackles. I think with Vontaze Burfict, Nick Vigil, and Jordan Evans, they feel very good. But you’re right about depth and I think they’ll take a backer on the third day.

TDBH: Collinsworth deal reached over eggs not that easy
The Cris Collinsworth contract saga that has raged for nearly two years ends with a twist today like one of the network soap operas that rule the airwaves. Last night the talks are off when Bengals president Mike Brown snaps his briefcase shut after a surprisingly unsuccessful negotiating session at the Queen City Club with Collinsworth, 26, the Bengals’ three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver. Collinsworth is stunned this morning as he and agent Richard Bennett hustle from the Westin Hotel to a 9 a.m. flight back to Florida and what looks to be the end of his Bengals career. Both sides want a deal badly and are shocked it doesn’t happen. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Peter King quotes Collinsworth asking Bennett, “My God, Richard. What happened?”

Bengals stand by Andy Dalton, but will they take a QB early in draft?
The Bengals were fairly set at quarterback just two seasons ago. Andy Dalton was coming off one of the best seasons of his career, and A.J. McCarron had shown promise filling in for Dalton when the starter was hurt in 2015. They also made the rare move of claiming Jeff Driskel off waivers and keeping him on the active roster as insurance in case they fielded a trade for McCarron.

AFC North Bytes

6 free agent wide receivers for Browns to consider signing
The Cleveland Browns have more salary cap room than any other NFL team, which gives them a distinct advantage on the free agency shopping market. With wide receiver being a position of major need, expect the Brown to actively pursue their options. Here are six wideouts scheduled to hit free agency who the Browns should consider signing.

Ryan Shazier on Rehab Progress from Back Injury: 'I Got to Get Back'
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier spoke publicly for the first time since he suffered a spine injury during a Week 13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals and stressed his desire to get back on the field and compete for a Pro Bowl spot. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette passed along Shazier's comments that were made on fullback Roosevelt Nix's podcast.

Random Bytes

Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Tim Tebow and the Real Problem with the Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is near, and one of the greatest lessons teams and media need to learn, but fail to every year, is that combine results should be regarded with a healthy skepticism. There are few better examples of this than what happened at the combine with Tim Tebow.

Jarvis Landry Receives Franchise Tag from Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins announced Tuesday they will use the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported the Dolphins would use the non-exclusive tag on Landry, which will cost about $16 million. As a result, other teams have to give up a first-round pick to sign Landry.

Andrew Luck Says 2nd Shoulder Surgery 'Not an Option,' That He Feels 'Awesome'
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck provided an update on his recovery from injury Tuesday during an interview with The MMQB's Peter King, saying he's begun throwing again and that he feels "awesome" and is in "a great place" (h/t Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star). "I'm in the middle of sort of a little bit of throwing, but strengthening and preparing my shoulder to be able to handle the throw load that is part of being an NFL quarterback," Luck said.