Andy Dalton’s next opportunity as an NFL quarterback has been a lingering mystery for months; both the when and where.
The when is now. After it was announced Thursday morning that the Bengals will release Dalton, he is now free to sign with any team he choses. The where remains an unknown, but a couple teams remain at the top of the list.
The Jaguars and Patriots are among the teams interested in Andy Dalton, per a source.— Tyler Dragon (@TheTylerDragon) April 30, 2020
This comes as no surprise. Both teams were previously rumored to trade for Dalton, much less sign him once his contract was terminated. Per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the Jaguars had multiple discussions with the Bengals regarding a Dalton trade, but his salary cap hit of $17.7 million was likely what caused negotiations to stall.
Mentioned this before, worth repeating: The Bengals did shop QB Andy Dalton more than once to the Jags, thinking there'd be trade interest (re: Jay Gruden connection). There wasn't much at the time, though his $$$ might've played into it.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 30, 2020
Maybe now that he's free, that changes.
Dalton may not become the unquestioned starter in Jacksonville with young Gardner Minshew leading the charge down there, but he would be reunited with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who held the same title in Cincinnati for the first three years of Dalton’s career. Gruden was one of the main reasons why the Bengals drafted Dalton in the first place.
As for New England, his chances of starting there seem to be much higher. As of now, Jarrett Stidham is penciled in as the No. 1 ahead of just Brian Hoyer and a few recently signed college free agents. The decision of signing him would come down to head coach Bill Belichick thinking he’s the best option to takeover Josh McDaniels’ offense where Tom Brady left it. The Patriots also have under $2M in cap space to work with, so a Dalton trade was never likely unless they made corresponding moves as well.
With his large salary now a thing of the past, Dalton has become a much more desirable quarterback for offenses to considering adding.