With pretty much all the quarterback chairs claimed just over a week into free agency, the prospects of the Cincinnati Bengals trading Andy Dalton for much draft capital have withered.
Perhaps, with several former starters still on the market (Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, to name two), might the Bengals reconsider keeping the veteran signal-caller on the roster as a mentor to their No. 1 overall pick (presumably Joe Burrow)?
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday's edition of NFL Total Access, which airs daily at 7 p.m. ET, that "all options are still on the table," when it comes to Dalton's future in Cincinnati, and that includes potentially bringing the QB back in 2020 and having him serve as the backup. At this point, nothing has been decided from Cincinnati's standpoint, Rapoport added.
The idea of Dalton returning is a slight shift from last month when the veteran signal-caller seemed destined to be traded or released to find a new home where he might compete for a starting job.
Since then, most teams with QB needs have filled the void. The Chicago Bearstraded for Nick Foles. The BuccaneerssignedTom Brady. The PanthersaddedTeddy Bridgewater. The Chargersinsist they're rolling withTyrod Taylor (and likely a rookie to be named later). The PatriotssignedBrian Hoyer potentially to compete with Jarrett Stidham.
There isn't an obvious landing spot for Dalton. Could someone like New England circle back if Dalton is cut loose? Sure. But at this moment there isn't an obvious trade partner.
Dalton is set to make $17.7 million in 2020. With none of that money guaranteed, the Bengals can afford to be patient with the decision, possibly waiting to see how the draft shakes out.
In the end, it's possible the Bengals and Dalton both decide it's best the veteran remains on the roster for another season as a mentor for the top draft pick. Whether that would come on a reworked deal is another question yet to be answered.
With the uncertainty surrounding the offseason due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, in which all NFL facilities have shut down, hanging onto Dalton could be the most prudent move for Cincinnati. The veteran knows the offense and could prove valuable to help teach and assist a young quarterback during a year in which offseason workouts could get wiped out.