The Cincinnati Bengals have released Andy Dalton; that news is not shocking, but it is news that might reverberate through the NFL. There are teams where the starting QB position is “thin at best”; there are teams that have no experience in the backup QB slot; Andy Dalton should be an interesting commodity for more than a few teams. Unless I have forgotten someone along the way, I believe the list of experienced/recognizable QBs with extensive starting experience in the NFL comes down to this:
- Andy Dalton
- Cam Newton
Make no mistake, Cam Newton has a far more impressive résumé; Newton has been to the Super Bowl; he has been to the Pro Bowl several times and was named first team All Pro in 2015. Andy Dalton cannot match those accomplishments. Nevertheless, I think Andy Dalton could be the more desirable commodity in May 2020.
The reason is the “injury factor”. Cam Newton played hurt in 2018; that was pretty obvious to anyone who watched him play; he returned in 2019 after shoulder surgery and started two games before suffering a Lisfranc injury to his foot. He had surgery to correct that foot injury in December 2019 and is in the process of rehab as we speak. Andy Dalton has never been a first team All Pro nor has he ever won a playoff game – let alone gone to a Super Bowl – but Andy Dalton’s surgical history is less frightening; he missed 5 games in 2018 due to surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb.
Both men are looking for work and both are likely to find work in the NFL – should there be a 2020 season. But I think the question of where Andy Dalton winds up is more interesting. First, consider teams where Dalton would have at least a 50/50 chance to be the starting QB:
- Bears: As of this morning, their depth chart includes Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky; Dalton can compete with either of those guys.
- Chargers: The current depth chart is Tyrod Taylor, Justin Herbert and Easton Stick. Obviously, Herbert is the heir apparent to Philip Rivers but for 2020…?
- Jags: Gardner Minshew had a decent rookie year in 2019 and he is 8 years younger than Dalton. Nonetheless, Dalton’s game history says that he could wind up as the starter in Jax.
- Pats: I will not pretend to be able to read Bill Belichick’s mind, so I have no idea if he is sold on Jarrett Stidham as his QB for 2020 – – or not.
The list of teams that might want Dalton to be their backup QB is significantly longer. Teams with a young QB or ones with an established starter who also have playoff aspirations in the short term need to consider Andy Dalton vis á vis their current depth chart:
- Bills: The backups on the roster today are Matt Barkley, Davis Webb and Jake Fromm.
- Broncos: Drew Lock earned the starting slot last year and he sits ahead of Jeff Driskell, Brett Rypien and Riley Neal.
- Cowboys: They have 3 backups today; Cooper Rush, Clayton Thorson and Ben DiNucci.
- Jets: Behind Sam Darnold sit David Fales, James Morgan and Mike White.
- Rams: It could be a big step down from Jared Goff to John Wolford, Bryce Perkins or Josh Love.
- Seahawks: Russell Wilson is capable and always available but if they must go to the bench, the cupboard is bare. Wilson is the only QB on the Seahawks roster this morning.
- Steelers: If Big Ben needs relief, would they want Dalton or Mason Rudolph, Duck Hodges, Paxton Lynch and JT Barrett in the bullpen?
- Titans: Ryan Tannehill is their guy and behind him are Logan Woodside and Cole McDonald.
- Vikes: Kirk Cousins has been very durable; but if he goes down, they will turn to Sean Mannion, Nate Stanley or Jake Browning.
I just listed 40% of the NFL teams who could have an interest in someone with Andy Dalton’s history/pedigree. Obviously, I have no inside information regarding negotiations between teams and his agent but here are the teams that I think should be on the phone and testing the waters already:
Why do I not have the Steelers on the list of teams that should be in touch already? That is because I have a gut feeling that Cam Newton is going to wind up in Pittsburgh. That is either a gut feeling or a bad case of heartburn…
Finally, here is an entry in The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Eighteen-Wheeler: A tractor trailer truck that is the subject of many a song and the cause of many a hemorrhoid.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………