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Andy Dalton's Bengals deal sets second-tier QB market

The Cincinnati Bengals trumpeted their unflagging faith in Andy Dalton while announcing a six-year contract extension for their quarterback on Monday.

"We never wavered in our support for Andy," coach Marvin Lewis said, via The MMQB. "I never wavered. (Owner) Mike Brown never wavered. Quarterback is Mike's position, and he loves Andy. Andy's our guy, and will be."

"We're betting big on him because we believe in him," Brown added. "We are looking forward to the future with Andy."

The contract numbers tell a slightly different story, as the Bengals succeeded in setting a much-needed second-tier quarterback market while stiff-arming Dalton's desire for a pay day on par with Jay Cutler's $54 million in guarantees.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports, via a source who has seen the contract, that the base value of Dalton's deal is $96 million, for an average of $16 million annually.

There is an additional $19 million available in tiered incentives that can be reached by advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs, the conference title game and the Super Bowl, according to NFL Media's Albert Breer.

Dalton will receive a $12 million signing bonus with a $5 million roster bonus coming in three days. Beyond that $17 million, there are no more guarantees in the contract.

Although Dalton will earn $22 million in the next six months, the deal averages a reasonable $12.5 million over the first two years.

Similar to the 49ers' recent pact with Colin Kaepernick, the team is essentially paying the franchise tag rate up front, with the option of going year-to-year in the future. Expect the Chiefs to follow the same template in negotiations with Alex Smith.

Both deals are team-friendly compared to the going rate for established quarterbacks, which is not to say that Brown and Lewis now enjoy a competitive advantage.

Much like the 49ers and Seahawks, the Bengals have built a deep and talented roster, in no small part because the starting quarterback barely made a dent against the salary cap.

Now that Dalton is earning $16 million per year and a A.J. Green is on deck for a lucrative contract of his own, roster construction will present a stiffer challenge.

As the Ravens discovered last year, a high-priced quarterback can leave the organization at a competitive disadvantage if he fails to make his surrounding talent better.

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