Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown understands his organization has enjoyed a competitive advantage in the AFC North with a quarterback earning less than $2 million against the salary cap in each of the past three seasons.
Now that Andy Dalton is entering the final year of his rookie contract, though, Brown is faced with the dilemma of securing his quarterback under a new long-term deal or letting him play out the season with an uncertain future.
The sides already have begun feeling each other out on Dalton's price tag.
"There have been talks about it. There have been a couple of proposals sent over and different things," Dalton told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday. "We're working. Hopefully, we can get something done.
"I'm not too worried about it. I know in the right timing, everything is going to happen. Obviously, everyone would like to get something done sooner rather than later."
"We are hopeful we can get a deal done," Lewis said at the NFL Annual Meeting last week. "That doesn't preclude us from doing everything else we also want to continue to do -- and soon -- because we are sitting on a chunk of cap in order to get him done and continue to put the team together around him."
The surrounding talent has improved the past two years. Dalton's decision-making and field vision have not.
Brown has to decide if that's a horse worth backing. We suspect he will be reluctant to meet Dalton's asking price, ultimately procrastinating until next offseason -- and perhaps hedging his bets with a young quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft.