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UPDATE: Andy Dalton Joining Cowboys

A week after drafting LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, the Bengals have released their long-time starter Andy Dalton.  Following the free agent additions of D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes, Vonn Bell, and others, the Bengals likely could not afford Dalton's $17.7 million cap hit this season.  The team will not carry any dead cap money from the release.

UPDATE: Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Dalton is signing with the Dallas Cowboys. Dalton owns a home in Dallas, and now he'll be working there too. 

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33 comments, Last at 04 May 2020, 12:44pm

1 I've been thinking since…

I've been thinking since November that superficially Dalton is the kind of player Belichick likes to pick up from underachieving teams and show how to use him effectively.

That said, I don't know what Dalton strengths/weaknesses actually are?

2 He's fairly mobile and makes…

He's fairly mobile and makes smart decisions. He doesn't have a strong arm. His accuracy is average to above-average.

I think he could fit really well in the Patriots' system, and it's tough to think of a better place he could go right now. All the teams that drafted first-round QBs already have their "bridge" veteran QBs (except the Bengals...). I can't think of any team that would pay a significant amount for a veteran backup at this point, or that would have a starting job realistically open, except for the Patriots.

8 How does he make smart…

How does he make smart decisions? 


2015/16 are the only years he hasn't had a significantly above average int rate - he's at 2.7 over the last 3 years vs a 2.2ish league average. He's been getting sacked at the same rate as roethlisberger the last couple years, and has hovered around 60% completion rate.  


And that's despite the Bengals very much limiting his attempts. 

15 The Patriots don't have a…

The Patriots don't have a significant amount to offer if they wanted to.  If they want Dalton -- and I'm not sure they do -- he's only coming in for a near-vet minimum deal with incentives.  Will that be enough for Dalton?  I guess it depends how much he wants to play.

3 I'v defended Dalton in the…

I'v defended Dalton in the past, but he strikes me at this point in his career as a guy very much dependent on his supporting cast. Give him good weapons and a good line and he will lead a good offense(though it will have a hard ceiling).

Its the hard ceiling that is going to trouble some teams. Its interesting, Alex Smith is a good comparison for Dalton, but Alex Smith has that heroic playoff game on his resume, there's a sense that his ceiling is the superbowl while Dalton's will always be thought of as wildcard round only.

Its the hard ceiling that will probably dissuade teams from committing to Dalton. Why not chance it with a guy like Stidham who has a higher probability of being worse than Dalton, but some probability of being better. 

4 Dalton's ceiling

So, exactly what you want in a veteran backup QB.

I'm sorry, I think that the Bengals should have worked out a pay cut extension for Dalton. Something like 3 years $15M, with a signing bonus of $3M. Guarantee $1M of the $4M salary each year, have achievable bonuses for games started/passes attempted/etc. That way, if Burrow has a bad injury, you have a quality backup who knows the system, won't lose you games, etc.--just like the Saints had last year with Bridgewater. On the contract, Dalton gets $4M guaranteed immediately (instead of nothing b/c he just got cut), but the Bengals have a high-level backup QB for cheap, with little dead money if they cut him or he has a catastrophic injury at any point. Plus, the Bengals, even with my contract, still save $12M+ on the salary cap. They could structure it differently and save more this year, or even pay him $21M on the same structure, and still get ~$10M savings on this year's cap. 

Personally, for Dalton, he still has a job and can get himself some guaranteed money in my scenario--and maybe him/his agent/the Bengals had some discussions like this. I have to believe that the Bengals tried to shop him in a trade, but obviously nobody wanted to cough up something for a QB they (rightly) believed that they could get for free on a cheaper contract. For Dalton's sake, I hope he gets a better salary than whatever low-ball offer the Bengals may have offered (in theory). Maybe they wanted to just cut bait when they couldn't trade him, instead of keeping him on the roster at a cheaper price. But even as a huge LSU Tigers fan and a Burrow fan, I hope that this doesn't come back to bite the Bengals if Burrow were to get injured (not that I'm wishing for it in any way--but athletes sprain ankles/jam fingers/suffer minor injuries all the time).

6 From Dalton's perspective, I…

In reply to by Joseph

From Dalton's perspective, I'm not sure taking a pay cut is necessary.  There will be QB injuries in Sept-Oct (assuming there's a season). I'm sure a team will be willing to pick him up at that point.  Even if he ends up as a backup in the future, it's going to be no worse than the contract you're suggesting. He can surely end his career as a Schaub-Fitzpatrick-McCown.

I read that the Bengals want to start afresh with Burrows as a leader rather than have the old one looking over his shoulder. But that may be fan rumour.  Even so I'm struggling to think of a recent situation where a team kept on its longterm starter and started the rookie.  Maybe Prescott-Romo. Much further back Rivers-Brees in San Diego. Maybe even the Jon Kitna-Carson Palmer experience was factored in by Mike Brown.

12 Rivers-Brees--what?

Drew Brees started 16 games in 2005 and 15 in 2004--and the game in which he didn't play was started by Doug Flutie, who was 42 that season.  Rivers got two games and eight attempts in '04, followed by two games and 22 attempts in '05.

13 It's worth noting

In reply to by The Ancient Mariner

Brees was really good in '04; he posted a passer rating (yeah, I know, but it's handy) of 104.8, which is still the fifth-highest of his career all these years later, and an ANY/A of 7.78, also the fifth-highest of his career (if you don't count the 7.90 he posted in 27 attempts in '01).

16 Dalton's perspective

"I'm not sure taking a pay cut is necessary." Um, getting cut means his contract is worthless, so he got a pay cut whether he liked it or not. I was suggesting that he should have looked at negotiating a pay cut a while ago, since it seems like Burrow to the Bengals has been a foregone conclusion for awhile now. (And then happened a week ago.) Maybe he wanted out, so he refused to take a pay cut. If so, that's his choice. As I said, I hope he lands somewhere and gets a decent backup salary. [Aside--Jameis Winston took less money to go to NO--but that was his choice, not a last resort.]

In the regular world, he got fired--so no employment means no paycheck. When he gets a job somewhere else, he will have to adapt to their pay scale (new contract)--not the old salary he was getting at the previous company (team).

5 Dalton might've won the MVP…

Dalton might've won the MVP in 2015 if not for a late season injury (which also ruined the Bengals chances of winning a Super Bowl, although they still almost beat the Steelers in the playoffs with AJ McCarron). That's a significantly better season than anything Alex Smith ever did. His DVOA was 31% that year, slightly better than Patrick Mahomes last season.

I expect the Patriots will sign Dalton and he will like prove to be an upgrade over the rapidly deteriorating Brady we saw last year. NE should be in line to win the division yet again.

7 I think If NE actually had…

I think If NE actually had interest, they would have traded for him and negotiated a short extension. 

They've got little cap space, and would have more leverage in that situation.  And now he'll affect their comp-pick calculations. 


I think they plan on starting Stidham. 

11 No, he wouldn't

Signing Dalton wouldn't affect NE's comp-pick calculations in the slightest--the deadline for that was April 27.

17 Comp picks

The comp pick formula only counts players who leave at the end of their contracts for free agency. Players that were cut/ released, regardless of when, don't count towards the formula. Dalton won't count since he was released. 

As an example, the Packers signing Wagner and Kirksey won't count against the formula. They were released before the end of their contracts by their previous team. Funchess will, but his contract is more akin to Allison and a couple of other no name free agents who left the team. They should still get something from losing Bulaga and Martinez. (Thank you NYG for vastly overpaying him.) 

10 Hope springs eternal in…

Hope springs eternal in Patriotia. I'm sure Patriot fans will not level unfair criticism at their own team if they, no matter how unfairly, happen to 'lose' a game.

19 Draft

morganja, what did you think of the Panthers' draft?  At least the new leadership has a plan, right or wrong.

22 I think that the Panthers…

In reply to by Stendhal1

I think that the Panthers are going for the first pick in next years draft, to get the long term quarterback. Did you like it?

24 If they wanted the first…

If they wanted the first pick in the 2021 draft, they should have never signed Teddy Bridgewater.  They should have started Kyle Allen/Will Grier for the entire upcoming season.  Bridgewater is going to win at least a few games that Allen/Grier simply could not have won.  Think back to the 2011 draft.  It took the total incompetence of Jimmy Clausen to get the worst record in the league, which provided the #1 overall draft pick.  Teddy is too good to lose 14 games with this team, barring a rash of injuries at key positions.

Not signing Bridgewater would have also left a little leverage in trade talks for Cam Newton, if the team was dead set on moving on without him and rebuilding/tanking.  Even if you only got a mid-to-late-round pick in 2021, anything would have been better than letting a former MVP go for zero compensation.  Once Bridgewater was signed, everyone knew they couldn't keep both QBs at $21M each for next season, and all leverage in trade talks were gone.  They could have held on to Cam into the start of next season, and traded him when a team lost a starting QB to injury.  They have effectively ruined any chance to legitimately tank and build future draft capital in two different ways with the same move.  The plan can't be to tank for Trevor in 2021, or they simply have no idea how to actually accomplish that mission. 

As for their draft, I think they gave themselves a chance to be more competitive than most people think they will be in 2020.  The defense was atrocious last year, especially against the run.  It will be a young D, but I think they will have a better overall team on the field, at least by the end of the season.  The change back to 4-3 will also help, as a lot of players seemed out of place in the one-year experiment to run a 3-4 defense.

26 I do

I was born and raised in Syracuse, and naturally became an Orange basketball fan.  I started following the team actually just before Jim Boeheim became the coach, but for most of my life he’s run the team.  Out of experience, study, belief and stubbornness, he follows a plan:  the zone defense.  There’s been a life long debate among fans whether the zone is a good idea; there are ups and downs.  In my humble opinion, the virtue of the zone is at least it is a plan.  Boeheim and his staff can recruit to the zone, including players uniquely fit to it, and coach and teach it.  Knowing what the team and staff are going to do saves a lot of time and effort that otherwise would be spent in planning and organizing, and cuts down on waste.  Perhaps the rigidity of the system caps the upside, but it also caps the downside; I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Boeheim has never coached to a losing record in a season.  I think your team is fortunate in that it has a coach who appears to have definite ideas on how to build a team, including getting people with whom he worked in the past. The plan may work or it may not work, but I’d bet Rhule is going to be given an honest chance to succeed or fail.  When Coach Rivera had that chance, it worked out really well.  Also, Lawrence is so good that getting him would be worth the price of a poor season.

9 My completely subjective…

My completely subjective take is that he is risk averse and holds the ball too long and ends up taking sacks or throwing interceptions or failed completions. Part of that is that Cincy seems to be talent short these days so likely he would be non-terrible on an average team.

14 This makes sense on a…

This makes sense on a financial level, but not on a football one.  Dalton hasn't been the Bengals' savior, but he has fallen apart as much as you would think.  Cutting him is all about not paying 17 million for a guy who won't be starting at the end of the year.  When the Bengals drafted Carson Palmer, they  sat him for a year; under this new management, they're going to throw Burrow, who's started only two years in college, to the wolves.  He could end up like Darnold, who shouldn't have started immediately but was thrown in.

Dalton will end up somewhere and do ok for himself, I suspect.  New England would be a great spot, except for the fact they only have a million dollars to pay him.  Washington would probably be a good spot; they have cap room, Haskins may not work out, and they have a new respected coach.  Unfortunately they still have a terrible owner though.  The Browns would make sense, but he would only end up as a back-up there.

18 How about the Steelers?

There were stories yesterday reiterating that the team had not tried to sign a veteran QB to back up Roethlisberger, but it would make sense.

20 NE already has a veteran…

NE already has a veteran backup QB, Hoyer.  I know, that doesn't sound like a great plan to me, either, but Belichick seems to like him.  So Stidham-Hoyer looks like the way NE is planning to go.

PIT seems like a really good fit for Dalton, unless they've picked up a QB I missed during the off season?

WAS I would expect to try and get Newton as a preferred choice over Dalton.

What about NYJ for Dalton?  Would they be interested in him as a backup to Darnoldson?

21 I have a feeling if the Jets…

I have a feeling if the Jets signed him, he'd end up starting.  In other news, Adam Gase is a snake.  No, that's not fair to snakes; many of them warn you before they bite you, and none of them have the ability to stab you in the back.

However, it isn't likely.  The Jets only have about 10 million in cap room, and they drafted a back-up qb in the fourth round. Dalton could end up being decent in New York, but Gase was brought in so Darnold could work out- replacing Darnold could sour the Johnsons on Gase.  So yeah, signing Dalton could work out great for the Jets.

23 Jags make perfect sense. …

Jags make perfect sense.  They have cap room, Dalton knows Jay Gruden's offense, and they need a backup. 

25 Signed with Cowgirls

Signing will Dallas for one year to back up Dak 

27 I was hiking on a hill over…

I was hiking on a hill over here and all of a sudden my mind went to Dalton and Jerry Jones saying "if you can add a 3 time pro bowl quarter back to the team you make it happen"

I dismissed the thoughts because Dak Prescott is the starter there, but then overthought it because it's a toss up on who's the better quarterback between the 2.

Dalton might be starting whenever next season might start.

28 Toss up? Dak will be 27 this…

Toss up? Dak will be 27 this season and, even with his ups and downs, 2/4 of his seasons as a starter have been as good (if not better) than Dalton's one standout year out of nine in Cincinnati. I think Dalton has been a decent starter over the years, but even that one great season was 5 years ago now. I know his supporting casts in Cincy were worse (and sometimes much worse) than what Dallas has right now, but I think you would be nuts to take the job away from Dak. He has the edge in age/potential/ceiling *and* in recent production.

29 Good move by Jerry, decent…

Good move by Jerry, decent QB to have as a backup.

And I'm sure Jones sees it as a way to put that extra little bit of pressure on Prescott to sign whatever deal is offered

I've not followed the Prescott renewal saga but it seems that JJ has been willing to hand out generous deals to supporting players left, right and centre. Yet QB which is the most important player on a team, he holds back.

30 Why would bringing in Dalton…

Why would bringing in Dalton now change Dak's negotiating stance? If Dak plays well again in 2020 he is going to have enormous leverage over the Cowboys. Dallas needs to be wary of allowing this to play out like Kirk Cousins in Washington. Whatever you want to say about Cousins, he turned that situation into a truckload of money.

I don't know, maybe Dallas is truly hesitant about Prescott.

31 It puts absolutely no…

It puts absolutely no pressure on Prescott to sign a multi-year deal. However, you are correct in that it does reduce the pressure on JJ if Prescott decides to hold out, so holding out will not change JJ's stance much. This may be something he learned from previous holdouts, notably Emmitt Smith. The fear of the season starting then being cancelled mid-season could get Prescott into camp sooner. 

Dalton's deal is only $7M for one year, with $3M guaranteed. No idea what triggers the other $4M, but some of it is probably related to playing time. So if Prescott only signs the Franchise and not a longer contract, JJ could be setting himself up for a repeat of the Cousins' fiasco. This especially works in Prescott's favor if he signs the tender and the rest of the season is cancelled after he reports; he gets credit for 2020 with little injury risk. 

One unknown: What happens to players who haven't signed their Franchise tender if the season is completely cancelled? Would their 2021 Franchise tender be the same or more? Is this contingency even in the CBA? 

32 Note my careful wording ... …

Note my careful wording ... "I'm sure Jones sees it as a way to put that extra little bit of pressure on Prescott to sign whatever deal is offered". As you say he has a contingency plan if Presecott holds out but didn't the new CBA massively penalise players for holding out or is that non-rookies?

I'm guessing the unguaranteed $4m is for playing time. If Prescott gets injured (or even benched), Dalton wants to be at least paid like the Fitzpatrick or McCowns for playing decently rather than a Hoyer type.

I assumed if nothing is played this year, then everything rolls onto next year with no accrued seasons i.e. everybody gets paid their 2020 money in 2021.  Either that or the NFL and union will come to an extra agreement. Believe they did this for minicamps/OTAs already.

33 Holdout penalties

You are correct that much stronger holdout penalties are in the new CBA,  but since Dak is not currently under contract - his rookie contract has expired and IIRC he has not signed the franchise tender - it doesn't apply to him.