The Bengals have released longtime starting quarterback Andy Dalton, the team announced Thursday afternoon. Dalton, the team’s starting quarterback since 2011, asked for his release, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
“We have released QB Andy Dalton,” the Bengals wrote via Twitter. “Andy has not only been an outstanding player on the field, but a role model in the Cincinnati community for the last nine years. Thank you for everything, Andy.”
Dalton, who lost his starting job midway through the 2019 season, expressed frustration after the Bengals didn’t trade him before last year’s deadline. Dalton had been benched in favor of rookie Ryan Finley. Five months later, Dalton seemed to have come to grips with the fact that he could be back in Cincinnati for the 2020 season, despite the fact that the Bengals selected former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick.
“I truly believe they want what’s best for me, but I understand it’s a business, and you know how that goes,” Dalton told NFL.com’s Michael Silver earlier this month. “With the first pick, if they take a quarterback like everyone expects, that could trigger something. There’s even a scenario where I go back there.”
According to Schefter, the move will save the Bengals $17.7 million off the salary cap.
Zac Taylor, who is entering his second year as the Bengals’ head coach, did not rule out keeping Dalton on the roster for the upcoming season when asked about Dalton prior to the NFL Draft.
“Everything’s on the table, and that’s the truth,” Taylor said. “Given the circumstances going on in the world right now, it doesn’t make sense not to keep our options open. (Bringing Dalton back is) something to consider.”
While he still considers himself to be a starting-caliber NFL quarterback, Dalton understands the current climate as it relates to the market of available quarterbacks that includes former league MVP Cam Newton and former Ravens Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco.
For a multitude of reasons, 2019 was not a banner year for Dalton and the Bengals. With a makeshift offensive line and with multiple injuries at the receiver position, Cincinnati stumbled to an 0-8 start, which prompted Taylor to bench Dalton in favor of Finley. But after losing their next three games, the Bengals decided to go back to Dalton, who led Cincinnati to their only two victories of the season.
While he never won a playoff game, Dalton managed to accomplish a considerable amount of things in Cincinnati. The 35th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Dalton helped lead the Bengals to two AFC North division titles and five straight playoff appearances. In the process, Dalton, who posted a 70-61-2 regular season record as Cincinnati’s starting quarterback, was selected to three Pro Bowls while moving past Carson Palmer and Boomer Esiason as the franchise’s second all-time leading passer. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes (204), fourth quarter comebacks (20) and game-winning drives (24), according to ESPN’s Field Yates.
Speculation has already begun as it relates to where Dalton will place next. Among the teams that may be interested in signing Dalton include the Patriots — who did not select a quarterback during the draft — and the Jaguars, whose offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, served as Dalton’s offensive coordinator in Cincinnati from 2011-13.