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 a week removed from the NFL Draft, 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 (on his birthday of all days) after almost a decade under center in Cincy, expressed frustration late in the year after the Bengals didn’t trade him before last year’s deadline. Cincinnati drafted former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in last week’s 2020 NFL Draft.
While he still considers himself to be a starting-caliber NFL quarterback, the Bengals most likely think they can plug in Burrow right away, and releasing the ‘Red Rifle’ saves them roughly $17.7 million off the salary cap. Dalton will now be thrown into what is officially a quarterback wasteland, featuring names such as former league MVP Cam Newton and former Ravens Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco.
Let’s not forget, Dalton’s accomplishments in the NFL are nothing short of impressive. The 35th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Dalton helped lead the Bengals to two AFC North division titles and five straight playoff appearances. He has also been selected to three Pro Bowls and is the franchise’s second all-time leading passer. Finally, Dalton is currently Cincy’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes (204), fourth quarter comebacks (20) and game-winning drives (24), according to ESPN’s Field Yates.
So…where does Dalton go next? Word is spreading fast that the Patriots could be interested (imagine that?). The most logical spot for Dalton would be the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, served as Dalton’s offensive coordinator in Cincinnati from 2011-13.