Entering the final year of his contract, Dalton told SiriusXM NFL Radio in March that "there have been talks" with the team about a new contract. Coach Marvin Lewis told reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting that he was "hopeful" the Bengals would work out an extension. However, owner Mike Brown must decide if he wants to hand more than $15 million annually to a passer who inspired NFL Media's Chris Wesseling to dream up the "After Dalton" scale -- meaning, if you rank below Dalton, you are a problem.
His numbers look promising on paper, but Dalton's pocket presence and field vision are inconsistent -- sometimes maddening. Three of his most dubious performances have come in the team's trio of playoff losses dating back to Dalton's rookie campaign.
Behind closed doors, the Bengals face a dilemma: Do you overpay to keep a quarterback who isn't growing? Dalton looks and feels like a passer already bumping his ceiling. He's far from a disaster, but it's tempting to ponder what the Bengals could become with a firestarter under center.
The Bengals thinking about other options at the position tells us that Cincinnati is serious about becoming more than Saturday morning wild-card fodder for more complete teams.