We could be looking at one of the biggest free agency periods in recent memory if some of the notable names actually hit the open market. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Derrick Henry are just a few of the big names set to hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year opens on March 18th. However, free agency isn’t the only place for teams to improve their rosters. Enter Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
2019 in review
Dalton has been the Bengals’ undisputed starter since he entered the NFL in 2011. Now it appears like his time is up. Dalton’s ninth pro season was easily his worst one yet. He only completed 59.5% of his passes and tallied a career-low 16 touchdown passes. He also had a career-low QBR of 78.3. Cincinnati finished the year with the worst record (2-14) in the NFL.
Despite being 32 years old and a three-time Pro Bowl player, Dalton has not won a single playoff game. Cincinnati hasn’t won in the postseason since 1990. Dalton has a high ceiling, but so far he hasn’t proved he can be a difference maker who can will his team to a win during crunch time. Dalton has never been a backup quarterback. Can he be a good fit for another team in the NFL?
Why are the Bengals trying to trade him?
The Bengals have the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and will likely select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow to replace Dalton. Burrow is expected to be a Week 1 starter, so paying Dalton $17 million to be a reserve option isn’t the best financial option. Cincinnati wants a fresh start with a new face of the franchise, and that means Dalton has to go — especially if more useful assets can be acquired in return.
The Los Angeles Chargers will likely look to draft a starter in the 2020 draft or sign a highly-coveted free agent after parting ways with Philip Rivers, but that doesn’t mean Dalton shouldn’t be an option. Dalton didn’t have an elite, go-to guy in Cincinnati last season with A.J. Green sidelined, but the Chargers have one of the league’s best route runners in Keenan Allen. They also have other top-notch pass catchers in Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler. Dalton doesn’t elevate teams, but he does make good use of the the talent he has at his disposal. Los Angeles could provide him with the most gifted offensive unit he’s ever seen.
Dalton has never put up eye-popping numbers, and that shouldn’t change in in 2020. He’ll likely be a middle of the pack or slightly below average in 2020, regardless of where he goes. He’ll be able to light it up as a passer and runner in certain weeks. Just don’t expect a ton of consistency from him. Most of starting quarterbacks in the NFL will have more upside than Dalton in season-long fantasy. Daily fantasy is a different story though.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Dalton and his agent are talking to several teams in hopes of arranging a trade sometime in mid-March. His sources say the Bengals are working with the signal caller to find a desirable destination that he’s interested in. Negotiations haven’t begun yet, but Dalton is expected to have multiple suitors.
The Chicago Bears are one team Rapoport mentioned. They struggled to get consistency from fourth-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Chicago could be looking to add a veteran capable of challenging the young quarterback ahead of the 2020 season. Dalton might not start in Week 1, but could get opportunities to win a job like Ryan Tannehill did with the Tennessee Titans. The Indianapolis Colts also came up. They had limited time to respond to Andrew Luck’s unexpected retirement and rode out the 2019 season with Jacoby Brissett. Neither seems like a long-term solution at this point, but the team does have good offensive talent in Marlon Mack and T.Y. Hilton. The last team mentioned was the New England Patriots, who will heavily pursue a successor for Tom Brady if they lose him to free agency.