Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Aug 2014

Bengals Hand Dalton Six-Year, $115 Extension

Time for another edition of America's favorite game show, "try to figure out the language of new NFL contracts." Right now, all we know is that Andy Dalton has been signed to a "six-year, $115 million" extension. How is it structured? Can the Bengals get out of it if Dalton doesn't improve his game? How does this contract compare to the one Colin Kaepernick recently signed? Right now, who knows? Bring on the leaked details, baby.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 04 Aug 2014

28 comments, Last at 05 Aug 2014, 3:47pm by commissionerleaf


by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 3:29pm

All across Baltimore, sighs of relief are heard.

"We no longer even have the worst quarterback contract in our division!" the faithful exult.

by RickD :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 2:34pm

The Browns are in that division.

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 3:45pm


But the Browns haven't given $100 million to any of their quarterbacks. Manziel is on a rookie deal that is reasonable for a backup even if that's all he is, and Hoyer is not being paid that much.

The Dalton deal is $25M in the first two years, for a quarterback who is basically a ginger Matt Cassel. He's capable of executing an offense but utterly dependent on the talent around him to make more than ordinary progress. That may actually be worth $12.5M for two years - this isn't the Flacco contract and my original statement was wrong - because the Bengals can cut him after 2015-2016 when they find someone better.

Now that we know details, it's pretty clear that the Ravens are still the champions of awful quarterback contracts.

by dank067 :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 4:01pm

(All numbers from PFT/over the cap)

So, this contract doesn't look too terrible for the Bengals right now. The 2014 and '15 cap numbers are only ~$9 million. 2016 is where the deal could turn sour if Dalton has been a disaster, with the cap hit increasing to $13.1 million and $7.2 million of it being dead money. But $7.2 isn't that bad compared to the looming dead money apocalypses in the Romo/Flacco deals. 2017 dead money is already down to $4.8 million and so the years from there may as well not exist.

Basically, if Cincinnati isn't able to win a Super Bowl in the next few years, it won't be because they paid Dalton too much money and hamstrung the roster. It will be because they decided to keep Dalton in the first place.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 4:50pm

In other words, the Bengals don't have the worst QB contract in the division.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 12:46pm

A 13 million cap in 2016 seems pretty low compared to what the QB market is like nowadays. Seems like a pretty reasonable contract, surprisingly. Even then they could cut him in 2016 if need be and save nearly 6 million in cap room, despite the fact that the high amount of dead money would suck.

Who, me?

by dryheat :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 5:26pm

Dalton's not elite, but he's a top-16 QB, and those guys aren't easily replaced. Who, realistically, is Cincy going to get that's better? Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan aren't exactly available. Good move for the Bengals.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 5:40pm

I think you can make an argument that Dalton is not top 16. For example he finished 18th in DVOA this past year.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 6:48pm

Josh McCown was 4th in DVOA last year, but I don't think even you would argue that he's a top-5 QB.

More to the point, Dalton has finished 13th, 20th, and 18th in DVOA in his career, so I'd agree he's not a top-16 QB.

On the other hand, Flacco has finished 22nd, 17th, 15th, 18th, 16th, and 35th in DVOA, so one can make an argument that Dalton is at least better than Flacco.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 8:40pm

I think most QB's in the league could be at least average with A.J. Green at WR.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 8:43pm

I didn't really say one way or the other, but I think it's arguable.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 8:50pm

"On the other hand, Flacco has finished 22nd, 17th, 15th, 18th, 16th, and 35th in DVOA, so one can make an argument that Dalton is at least better than Flacco."

Flacco has also played almost a whole season of playoff games (13), has performed above his regular season level (15.2%), and a super bowl MVP to his credit.

Dalton has consistently wet the bed in the playoffs. I think his limited skill set and susceptibility to pressure makes him a risky proposition when the intensity gets cranked up. I mean, SD had the worst defense in the league last year and they embarrassed Dalton in Cincy.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 8:55pm

In fairness, Flacco has also had some pretty awful postseason games, some he's even won in. The titans game was pretty mediocre. His postseason game against the patriots in 09 was also pretty bad. His game against the colts the next week sucked. He's been poor against pittsburgh in the playoffs over and over.

Yes, never has he been Andy Dalton, but that's because Andy Dalton's failures come from a very specific flaw, rather than small sample size and randomness.

by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 12:51pm

True, but in the Pats game the Ravens got a 24-0 lead in the first quarter, Flacco just needed to sit on the ball for the win. The two losses against the Steelers were against #1 defensive units (the first was better than the Seahawks) so those were tough match ups. But even his mediocre performance vs. the Titans in his rookie year was better than any Andy Dalton playoff performance.

But a big difference between Flacco and Dalton is that Flacco was considered a major project coming out of college, whereas Dalton was considered polished. Flacco's struggles in the playoffs the first two years came at a point when he was still developing. If Dalton is considered already developed, I'm not sure you are going to see as much of an improvement going forward.

by PaddyPat :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:07pm

Is it conceivable that failures by Jay Gruden play a significant role in Dalton's postseason woes? Not to say that he's great in the regular season, but I noticed rewatching parts of the San Diego game last year that protection really collapsed in the second half--it was bad enough that one imagines even an "elite" quarterback struggling to go through progressions. Perhaps this is on Dalton for failing to make proper calls at the line, but line adjustments to account for pressure seems to me to be at least as much about coaching and preparation as talent. Will have to go back and watch the Houston games for comparison's sake, but I would wonder what a different coach might do with him...

by theslothook :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 3:39pm

My point wasn't to pick at Flacco. He's had better postseason games than dalton because he's a better qb than Dalton.

Flacco reminds me of Jake Delhomme as far as consistency is concerned. Jake could be on fire and be really good. Or just combust.

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 3:47pm

I'm really not sure that Flacco is a better QB than Dalton. But I agree with everything else.

by Dales :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:17am

Having a bit of a problem with the "and Matt Ryan" part of your comment.

by dryheat :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 9:19am

Just trying to choose two entrenched NFL QBs. Using Manning and Brady gets boring. Point is, if the Bengals decided not to extend Dalton, who are they going to get that's better?

by PaddyPat :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 11:06am

Dalton strikes me as more or less NFL average right now. He can put up decent numbers, generally takes care of the ball unless asked to really sling it, performs well against mediocre and weak defenses and less well against strong opposition. Cincinnati isn't likely to win the Super Bowl with him, though it could happen, but isn't winning consistently more important than winning big?

by andrew :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 8:04pm

Quarterbacks drafted ahead of Dalton at #35:

#1 Cam Newton
#8 Jake Locker
#10 Blaine Gabbert
#12 Christian Ponder

Quarterbacks drafted after Dalton:

#36 Colin Kaepernick
#74 Ryan Mallet

Also TJ Yates, Tyrod Taylor, Greg McElroy, and some other guy currently in the AFL.

As a fan of the team that used a #12 pick on a qb that year he looks pretty good.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 8:43pm

Just be glad your team drafted Bridgewater. At least you will be soon.

by Dales :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:18am

This. Steal.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 8:07pm

Andy Dalton has become the unwarranted poster child for arm strength limitations being the primary excuse for his inconsistency.

As has been documented by others, Dalton's real problem is dealing with pressure. Of course, everyone sucks when they are pressured, but Dalton's game completely unravels once he's been pressured. That's less an arm strength issue to me.

by John Walt :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 8:26pm

Didn't drew brees break out in his fourth season after two meh and one slightly above average season?

by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 8:20am

Pretty much. He had one year where he basically didn't play, one where he was ok and another where he sucked.

I don't know how typical that career path is, especially these days when young quarterbacks seem to be more successful than ever.

by Drunken5yearold :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 11:47am

Brees improved in his fourth season because the Chargers completely remade their offensive line from "no idea how to pass block" to "at least we're now somewhat competent!". They also drafted Rivers that offseason, which may (or may not) have contributed a sense of urgency to Brees.

The Bengals supposedly have had a very good offensive line for the last couple of years. He already has one of the league's best receivers. I wouldn't expect too much improvement.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 08/04/2014 - 9:18pm

Hey, now, you can't put a price on sustained mediocrity.

But, apparently, the Bengals can.