With the Cincinnati Bengals in position to select Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, the team is apparently willing to help its incumbent find a soft landing.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that the rebuilding Bengals intend to trade Andy Dalton, the franchise’s career leader in touchdown passes, “when the time is right” this offseason.
The Bengals, who were an NFL-worst 2-14 last season, are expected to select Ohio native Burrow, who led LSU to the national championship in his final college season. Burrow or not, Cincinnati apparently plans to reboot at quarterback but wants to avoid moving Dalton to “a bad spot” out of respect for the nine years Dalton spent with the organization.
Dalton, 32, won the starting job in Cincinnati as a rookie out of TCU after being drafted early in the second round in 2011. Paired with talented wide receiver A.J. Green, the fourth overall pick in the same draft, Dalton made the Pro Bowl in his debut season, when he led Cincinnati to the playoffs. It would be one of three Pro Bowl berths and four straight postseason trips for Dalton, who went 50-26-1 as a starter in his first five seasons.
Dalton and the Bengals never won a playoff game together, going 0-4 in four AFC wild-card losses. The team hasn’t had a winning record since 2015, going 20-35-1 since then with Dalton under center.
The Dalton era appeared over when he was benched shortly before the 2019 trade deadline, with the 0-8 Bengals giving fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley three starts. But after a trio of ugly losses, head coach Zac Taylor went back to Dalton, who led the Bengals to their only two wins of the season in his final five starts.
Dalton is scheduled to enter the final season of a six-year, $96 million contract extension. He is set to earn $17.5 million in 2020.
For his career, Dalton ranks first in club history in TD passes (204) and completions (2,757) and second in quarterback wins (70), passing yards (31,594) and pass attempts (4,449). He has thrown for more than 4,200 yards in a season twice (2013, 2016) and tossed a career-high 33 touchdowns in 2013.