Sports | April 30, 2020 11:34 am

Andy Dalton Released By the Bengals and He May Be Headed to the Patriots

The move frees up $17.7 million in salary-cap space for the 2020 season

Cincinnati Bengals Releasing Andy Dalton After Drafting Joe Burrow
Andy Dalton waves to the crowd at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. (Michael Hickey/Getty)
Getty Images

When the Cincinnati Bengals clinched the worst record in the NFL last season with an overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins, the writing was pretty much on the wall for Andy Dalton. By virtue of having the worst record in the league, the Bengals would have the No. 1 pick in the draft and select quarterback Joe Burrow out of LSU, then release Dalton.

Last week the Bengals selected Burrow, and this morning they released Dalton. By cutting Dalton, who threw for 396 yards and four touchdowns in that loss to the Dolphins, the Bengals freed up $17.7 million in salary-cap space for the 2020 season, a sizable chunk of change for a team that is known to be thrifty.

With Jameis Winston now on the Saints, Andy Dalton joins a free-agent quarterback market that also includes Cam Newton and Joe Flacco. Though there aren’t a lot of landing spots where 32-year-old Dalton, who has a career record of 70-61-2 to go along with 31,594 passing yards, 204 touchdowns, 118 interceptions and a completion percentage of 62.0, could come in and expect to start, there is one destination that he has been linked to for months.

It sounds crazy, but Dalton may eventually become Tom Brady’s replacement in New England for the Patriots. After first saying Dalton could be a “very compelling” option for New England back in January after the Patriots were knocked out of the playoffs, veteran NFL scribe Peter King revisited that take last month.

“If he’s on the street, Dalton at $7 million for a year in New England makes the most sense to me,” King wrote in March. “Hard to see Dalton going unloved, but he fits New England either short or long-term the best. I still expect the Patriots, after signing Brian Hoyer on Sunday, to look into signing a veteran.”

For now, the Patriots have the aforementioned Hoyer and second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham on their roster — not an especially imposing quarterback group. While Dalton isn’t the sexiest name, he certainly would be an upgrade over Hoyer and, at least to start the season, unproven Stidham.

Adding Dalton on a one-year deal also wouldn’t preclude the team from benching him in mid-season if he falters or if Stidham beats him out, an option the team wouldn’t have if they added a QB like Newton, a former MVP. If it isn’t with the Patriots, Dalton, who led the Bengals to the playoffs from 2011 to 2015 but lost in the wild-card round each time, deserves a shot somewhere.

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