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Andy Dalton: Kaepernick deal found 'middle ground'

Colin Kaepernick's recent pact with the San Francisco 49ers has intensified the gaze on quarterbacks Andy Dalton (Cincinnati) and Alex Smith (Kansas City).

The two signal-callers, whose contracts expire after this season, are presumed to be next in line for contract extensions.

Speaking at the opening of the Cincinnati Bengals' mandatory minicamp Tuesday, Dalton said his biggest takeaway from Kaepernick's contract is proving that a middle road can be attained.

"I think the biggest thing is it got done," Dalton said. "That's one thing that you see -- they took the time and were able to find a middle ground and get it done. I'm hopeful that'll happen for me soon."

According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, progress is being made in the potential new contract for Dalton and the Bengals, but nothing is imminent right now. Rapoport notes that training camp probably is a little better timetable, while adding that the Bengals do appear committed to making Dalton their franchise quarterback. With only a year left on his current contract, Dalton is confident that a deal will get done eventually, Rapoport reports.

As NFL Media's Albert Breer discussed in his recent column, the second-tier quarterback contract market has all but vanished in the NFL. The nine higest-paid QBs in the NFL (by average salary per year) were all signed in the past 27 months and each exceeds $17.5 million.

"If you're paying a quarterback in that neighborhood, you're not gonna have the same depth -- that's the price of two star-quality players at other positions," an NFC personnel director told Breer. "So now he's gotta make others around him better, as opposed to others around him making him better. You can only cut the pie so many ways. Or you just have to be a great drafting team, and not miss any."

At this point, we haven't seen Dalton improve players around him enough to warrant a huge contract -- at points in the playoffs he has even become a detriment. The question the Bengals must answer is whether they believe he can lift up his surrounding teammates.

"It all depends on the team's cap room," Dalton said, still commenting on Kaepernick's contract. "There's a bunch of different factors that go into it. But obviously you want to do something that's, to have guys around you that are going to help you out and help you be successful."

One AFC personnel exec told Breer that, if it were his team, he would set a ceiling for Dalton's contract at $15 million per year.

Still, it is a supply-and-demand business, and Dalton might milk Jay Cutler-like money out of the Bengals before it's all said and done.

*The end to the latest Around The League Podcast is full of shock and awe. *

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