It is no secret that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been a very polarizing figure among Bengals fans.
Dalton has led the Bengals to some impressive seasons, including five playoff seasons (he did go down late in the 2015 season, but it is still worth counting). However, he has failed to lead the team to a single playoff victory.
It doesn’t help that The Bengals really started the reset process this offseason by firing Marvin Lewis and hiring head coach Zac Taylor. Luckily for Dalton, it appears the game plan up top is to see if Taylor’s staff being injected can salvage anything from what is basically a healthy 2018 roster instead of starting over from scratch.
This is still a huge season for Dalton and his prospects for keeping his starting spot on the Bengals, which is something Dan Graziano of ESPN noted when he included Dalton in a list of players entering make-or-break season:
Why it’s a make-or-break year: Dalton turns 32 in October. He has completed 60.7 percent of his passes over the past two years. The Bengals look like a rebuilding team with a new and inexperienced coach who could very well want his own young quarterback to groom at some point. Zac Taylor likes Dalton, but another 3,300-yard, 20-touchdown season might not be enough to convince the organization to ignore fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley or, more likely, the QB crop in the 2020 draft.
How the Bengals could move on: Dalton is a nice bargain at $16 million in 2019 and $17.5 million next year, but none of that money is guaranteed. Cincinnati could cut him at any time.
It seems like a very strong possibility that if the Bengals can’t manage to have some sort of turnaround season with Dalton firing on all cylinders, that the Bengals could end up investing heavily in his replacement during the 2020 offseason.
The 2020 draft class has a few attractive options at the quarterback position, and Taylor may want to handpick who he could possibly be handcuffed to for his stint as the Bengals’ head coach.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Bengals would cut Dalton, despite it not impacting their cap situation. In the event things go south for the Bengals and Dalton in 2019, it is more likely the Bengals would either hold onto Dalton as an expensive (but extremely valuable) backup, or they’d probably be able to find a trade partner pretty easily. Dalton would be an ideal bridge quarterback for a team looking to develop a young quarterback but still maintain some competitiveness.
That is all assuming that things don’t pan out next season. Taylor bringing an offense that actually has modern strategies could really help this offense flourish. The only real roadblock as far as talent comes from Bobby Hart at right tackle and having no depth at the tackle position following Jonah Williams injury. The talent is there everywhere else, and Dalton can be as good as his surrounding pieces.
The real reason that it is so hard to project the kind of season the Bengals will have is that we still don’t know how much of an impact Taylor will have on this offense.
Unfortunately, that is something that we all have to wait to have answered. Dalton just happens to have way more riding on that answer than any of us.