Because Joe Burrow is coming into the league, Andy Dalton won’t be back with the Cincinnati Bengals. Where is the best landing spot for the Red Rifle?
Andy Dalton gave the Cincinnati Bengals franchise nine solid years.
Unfortunately, Dalton’s time in the Queen City is coming to an end here soon. The Bengals went 2-14 last season and Dalton was briefly benched in favor of rookie Ryan Finley out of North Carolina State. With native Ohioan Joe Burrow having played the greatest single season in college football history at the quarterback position, he will be the No. 1 pick by the Bengals this spring.
Dalton is still under contract by the Bengals through the 2020 NFL season. He counts $17.7 million against the salary cap and has no dead cap hit. Though the Bengals could technically release him, they would clearly prefer to find a suitable trade partner for their former starting quarterback. With a surprisingly robust trade market, what is the best landing spot for Dalton?
A pair of strong spots come to mind for Dalton, as well as a few underrated fits. The two franchises with the strongest ties to Dalton are the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots. Former Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor replaced Mark Helfrich in Chicago this offseason. With Mitchell Trubisky‘s future as a starter in jeopardy, Chicago seems like a logical fit.
New England is an appealing spot for Dalton, too. Of course, this only is a possibility if Tom Brady really does end up leaving New England. Because of Dalton’s bargain of a salary and his track record of quarterbacking the Bengals to the AFC playoffs consistently, he feels like a guy who Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would love to win big with just to spite everyone.
Outside of Chicago and New England, teams like the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans could make short-term sense for Dalton’s services. Dalton is a more proven, less expensive version of Derek Carr, so he could be a decent bridge quarterback for Jon Gruden in Southern Nevada.
The Chargers parted ways with Philip Rivers this winter. They’re in need of juice and may draft a quarterback No. 6 overall. However, collegiate signal-callers like Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Utah State’s Jordan Love are a tad too raw to start day one. Dalton could come into Los Angeles and start right away, as he would be a slight upgrade over Tyrod Taylor and Rivers’ play from last year.
The Titans seem to be in on either bringing back Ryan Tannehill on a new contract or landing the biggest free agency prize of the offseason by acquiring Brady’s services. Should Brady return to New England and Tannehill’s negotiating process prove too cumbersome, Dalton could be every bit as good as Tannehill was for the Titans last year and complement Derrick Henry on offense.
Ultimately, Dalton’s best fit in 2020 is entirely contingent on where Brady ends up. If Brady goes to Nashville, then Dalton should go to Foxborough. Should Brady return to the Patriots, the Bears make the most since for Dalton. Chicago and New England have to be the top-two spots because those situations offer him the best shot at remaining a long-term starter like he was in Cincinnati.