The Cincinnati Bengals recently released their quarterback of almost a decade, Andy Dalton, after the team was unable to find a trade partner throughout the process.
Cincinnati maintained throughout the process that they wanted to do right by the former second-round pick, but it seems an unusually robust quarterback free agent market and quality quarterback draft class made difficult for the Bengals to trade him somewhere he wanted to go.
This process took a lot of time, and Dalton realizes that it may have cost him some opportunities that he could’ve been in play for if he was a free agent.
“There were several different factors [on why I was never traded],” Dalton told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “This year there were a good amount of quarterbacks that were available. I think it would have worked out differently if I had been a free agent when the new league year started. I was still under contact and that hurt me. I’m sure teams knew they were going to take a quarterback No. 1 and they would release me and there was no reason to rush into anything.”
It should be noted that given the way Hobson talks about Dalton’s tone for this whole interview that these comments likely weren’t made in frustration towards the team. He is also 100% correct. If the only thing a team had to do to acquire Dalton was to sign him to a contract, then he would’ve been one of the most sought after quarterbacks behind Tom Brady of course.
He still has teams like the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars interested in him (the latter more than the former), and those are teams he could possibly start for sometime this year. He also has several teams reportedly interested in him that have more established starters, but he could come in and instantly have the backup quarterback job for the season and hit free agency next season.
Dalton has been in discussion for previous openings with the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts, but his best chance at starting was with the Chicago Bears. Chicago went out and traded for Nick Foles during this process. It was a strange move, but it likely came about when the Bengals were asking for more than that from Chicago for Dalton. Former Bengals’ offensive coordinator Bill Lazor became the Bears offensive coordinator this offseason, and he may have seen Dalton as an ideal veteran backup for his system who could potentially start over a struggling Mitchell Trubisky.
It is hard to believe that Dalton didn’t understand the Bengals trying to get something via a trade rather than releasing him at the start of the league year. Pretty much any other offseason he probably would’ve been dealt during the draft at least. This offseason just saw an unusual surplus of available quarterbacks who were willing to switch teams. Ultimately, Dalton still ends up with a shot at a pretty good landing spot, but he just doesn’t get to choose from as many names as he would’ve otherwise. If he is that concerned then a one-year contract should be what he focuses on so he can have that opportunity next season to hit the open market.
It may not be the ideal scenario, but Dalton still gets a chance to prove he can be a starter somewhere else next season. Hopefully he gets the opportunity to hit free agency early next offseason as well. Either way, the Bengals and their fans will be sending well wishes from Cincinnati for the rest of his career.