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Ryan Finley must find consistency to win Bengals’ backup QB job

Ryan Finley is a skilled and experienced quarterback, but he has not lived up to his potential in his limited time in Cincinnati.

NFL: MAY 10 Bengals Rookie Mini-Camp Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Bengals drafted Ryan Finley in 2018, but his role in the organization is still up for discussion. Is he a backup? Is he the future starter? How does he factor into the QB room?

The Bengals only worked out two quarterbacks leading up to the draft, and only drafted Finley. Clearly, Zac Taylor has a plan for him. Not only did Taylor draft Finley, but he traded up to get him.

What will the Bengals do with Ryan Finley in 2018? That will be one of the most interesting storylines to follow during training camp.

Ryan Finley

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 207 lbs

College: North Carolina State

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Experience: Rookie

Cap Status

Playing on the first year of a fourth-round rookie contract, Finley is making a small dent in the Bengals’ salary cap. His contract is worth a little over $3 Million over four years, but in 2019 his cap hit will only be $692,414 according to His dead cap is $789,656 if the Bengals decide to cut him.


Finley has such a rich history already, and he hasn’t even played a snap in the pros.

Coming out of Phoenix, Arizona, Finley committed to Boise State, but redshirted his freshman year in 2013. He played in four games in 2014, but only attempted 27 passes sitting behind Grant Hedrick. But Finley was named the starter in 2015 after Hedrick left.

Once Finley finally got his chance, he blew it only three games into his redshirt sophomore season after suffering an ankle injury. He would be out for the season, but he was given a medical redshirt for that year.

While Finley was out with injury, Brett Rypien took over and did well enough to keep the job the next year. Finley transferred to NC State, where he would become the starter for the next three years.

At NC State, Finley passed for over 10,000 yards, 60 touchdowns, 25 interceptions, and a passer rating of 140.0 and taking a mediocre team to a 25-14 record on his watch. He performed so well at NC State, that some people thought he could go in the first round of the draft and be an NFL starter.

During the 2018 draft, the Bengals packaged a fourth round pick and two sixth round picks for the 49ers 104th overall pick, which they used on Finley.

2019 outlook

Even though it looked like Finley had a great chance to take the Bengals’ number two spot, reports came out that he struggled mightily during OTAs. With his bad performance and Jake Dolegala’s surprisingly good spring, Finley quickly found himself fighting an uphill battle.

One plausible speculation is that the Bengals drafted Finley so that he could be the starting quarterback after Andy Dalton’s contract expires in 2021. That plan might need revision if Finley continues to struggle.

Finley may not even get a chance at the number two job since the Bengals already have an experienced backup quarterback in Jeff Driskel to fall back on.

As a rookie with a brand new coaching staff, there is a lot of wait-and-see that Bengals’ fans are going to have to endure before they get answers.

Roster Odds

Finley seemed like a shoe-in right after the draft, but looked so bad during OTAs that his spot may not be guaranteed. If it turns out that Dolegala gives him a run for his money, and he is the worst of the four quarterbacks in training camp, then the Bengals will pretty much have to cut him.

However, there is still a chance that a player of Finley’s experience and mental fortitude can recover. Even if he is cut and signed to the practice squad, he would stay there for long. The Bengals may want to keep him on the roster so they don’t lose him.

Roster Odds: 90 percent