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Andy Dalton has the best team-friendly contract of any NFL quarterback

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As NFL teams continue to sign quarterbacks to outrageous deals, the Bengals are getting great value with Andy Dalton.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals continue to have one of the NFL’s most stable quarterback situations.

That’s in large part because of Andy Dalton, who has grown into a franchise quarterback during the course of his seven-year career. He’s shown he can play at a Pro Bowl-level and lead the Bengals to the playoffs, even if he has yet to win a postseason game.

Making Dalton’s deal even more special is he’s one of the best value quarterbacks in the NFL in terms of veterans who have signed deals following their rookie contracts. Dalton’s contract pays him an average of just $16 million per year, the 16th-highest of any quarterback, per Spotrac.

That’s after Jimmy Garoppolo just signed a massive deal with the 49ers, paying him an annual salary of $27.5 million. That number isn’t far from being twice as much as what Dalton makes, despite the fact that Dalton has 102 more regular-season starts than Garoppolo.

And that’s before impending free agents Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees sign new deals, which are guaranteed to be bigger than Dalton, who will likely enter the 2018 season with the 19th-highest average among quarterbacks.

It will also be one of, if not the lowest average among starting quarterbacks on non-rookie deals. That kind of team-friendly deal only strengthens the fact that Cincinnati has one of the best quarterback situations in the NFL.

Additionally, should the Bengals cut Dalton this offseason, they would be on the hook for only $2.4 million. But if they cut Dalton in 2019, there is no dead cap hit.

That’s right. The Bengals could cut Dalton next year and not owe him a penny. If the Bengals keep Dalton around as expected, he’ll continue getting paid between $16.3-$17.7 million per year for the 2018-2020 seasons before becoming a free agent in 2021.

It’s likely that Dalton will sign an extension sometime within the next two seasons before being allowed to become a free agent. Still, it’s great to see the Bengals have so much flexibility with his deal while also not being hamstrung by it.

Now, it’s time for the Bengals to start taking advantage of it and re-signing their best players while acquiring some quality outside free agents as well. Despite having Dalton signed to such a good deal, the Bengals have let Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth leave in free agency over the last two offseasons, so they’ve really done a poor job at taking advantage of Dalton’s sweetheart deal.

Let’s hope that changes in a big way this year.