The Bengals have reached a long-term agreement with their starting quarterback, confirming today that they’ve signed Andy Dalton to a six-year contract extension. Combined with the one year remaining on his current pact, the deal locks up Dalton through the 2020 season.
Although initial reports pegged the value of the six-year deal at $115MM, the base value is actually $96MM, with $17MM in guaranteed money — Dalton will receive a $12MM signing bonus and a $5MM roster bonus that’s due in three days. Escalators can push the overall value of the contract up to about $115MM, with the extra $19MM or so available based on whether Dalton and the Bengals advance to the divisional round, conference championship, and Super Bowl during the next few seasons. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has the complete year-by-year breakdown of the pact, as well as the specific details on how Dalton can earn up to $115MM.
The Bengals passed on quarterbacks in the early rounds of this year’s draft before ultimately selecting A.J. McCarron in the fifth round, suggesting that the team was relying on Dalton as its quarterback of the future. Both sides expressed optimism throughout the offseason about getting something done, even as the Bengals weighed new deals for other extension candidates like A.J. Green and Vontaze Burfict.
While Dalton has yet to win a playoff game as the starter in Cincinnati, the 26-year-old has put up big numbers in the regular season, setting career-highs in 2013 with 4,293 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. Selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, Dalton has led the Bengals to a 30-18 record and three postseason appearances during his first three seasons in the league, averaging nearly 3,800 yards passing, 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in that span.
Advanced metrics rate Dalton as average — Football Outsiders ranked him as the 17th-best QB by DYAR in 2013, while Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded him 16th-best. The PFF rating, however, illustrates Dalton’s inconsistency — in 2014, he finished three weeks with a +5.0 or better grade, while five other weeks saw him earn a -3.0 or worse mark.
That inconsistency, combined with Dalton’s 0-3 playoff record, may be why more than half of you voted back in June that the Bengals shouldn’t reward the QB with a long-term extension. Still, given the market for solid starting quarterbacks, it seemed likely all along that Cincinnati would have to pay around $18MM per year to retain Dalton, as our Dallas Robinson suggested earlier in the offseason. At six years and $96MM, the deal actually has an annual average of just $16MM, though that number could increase to over $19MM based on the team’s performance. Dalton’s agreement could also have an effect on fellow extension candidate Alex Smith, who is likewise entering the last year of his current contract.
The structure and guarantees on Dalton’s new contract are notable, since Bengals owner Mike Brown indicated last month that the team would like to sign its quarterback to a deal similar to the one agreed to by Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. The value of Kaepernick’s extension is a little higher than Dalton’s, but the Niners’ signal-caller landed a more modest guarantee (about $12.3MM), and his extension also includes potential de-escalators if he doesn’t reach certain benchmarks. Both contracts get most of the guarantees out of the way early though, making them pay-as-you-go deals for the Bengals and Niners.
Dallas Robinson contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.