Cam Newton now has company among big-name quarterbacks on the free-agent market. What has long been expected happened Thursday when the Cincinnati Bengals released long-time starter Andy Dalton in the wake of selecting LSU’s Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Even though Dalton took his temporary benching behind then-rookie Ryan Finley in stride last season, is considered the consummate professional and would have been a good mentor/backup to Burrow, the Bengals wanted to do right by the “Red Rifle.” Plus, keeping him would have cost the team $17.7 million, and no NFL club is going to pay its No. 2 quarterback that much money.
Dalton might not have the potential ceiling of Newton but was a very solid starting QB in the NFL with a 70-61-2 record with the Bengals as the No. 35 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of TCU. The three-time Pro Bowl selection will be 33 in late October.
He is the Bengals’ all-time leader in touchdown passes (204), fourth-quarter comebacks (20) and game-winning drives (24). If there’s one knock on Dalton, it’s that he’s 0-4 in his postseason career and has thrown just one touchdown compared to six interceptions in those games.
Needless to say, the Newton/Dalton market will overlap some. It appears that no starting jobs are available, so both likely will have to settle for very little money as a No. 2. Former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, for example, signed this week for only $1.1 million guaranteed to backup Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints.
SportsLine oddsmakers have released moneyline prices on Dalton’s next team. Let’s break them down.
Jaguars (+200): Jacksonville’s new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden served as Dalton’s OC in Cincinnati from 2011-13. The Jags do not have an experienced backup (currently Josh Dobbs) for inexperienced Gardner Minshew II.
Patriots (+300): Pats coach Bill Belichick reportedly is a fan of Dalton’s, and apparently Belichick isn’t keen on signing Newton. Is he really going to enter the season with just Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer?
Seahawks (+450): Seattle doesn’t have a backup to Russell Wilson on the roster right now who has played a down in the NFL. Literally. (The team recently signed undrafted free agent Anthony Gordon out of Washington State.)
Broncos (+700): Denver is a possibility for Newton, too, but Dalton would be less “threatening” for second-year starter Drew Lock.
Cowboys (+900): Dallas is all-in for the Super Bowl this year. Dalton would be a huge upgrade on Cooper Rush as the No. 2 to Dak Prescott.
Cardinals (+1000): Dalton unquestionably is an improvement as a No. 2 over Brett Hundley and could help mentor Kyler Murray.
Rams (+1200): Jared Goff’s backup right now is John Walford. Enough said.
Steelers (+1500): GM Kevin Colbert this week essentially shot down his team’s interest in Newton and Winston. Perhaps adding Dalton as the backup to Ben Roethlisberger is a different story considering Dalton knows the AFC North well.
Packers (+2000): Green Bay doesn’t want rookie first-round pick Jordan Love to see the field as he learns, so Dalton could be the backup to Aaron Rodgers.Then again, doing this probably would tick off Rodgers even more than he already is over the Love pick.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Which team will sign free-agent quarterback Andy Dalton?
- Jaguars +200
- Patriots: +300
- Seahawks: +450
- Broncos: +700
- Cowboys: +900
- Cardinals: +1000
- Rams: +1200
- Steelers: +1500
- Packers: +2000
NFL pick: Jaguars