The Bengals are heading into a transitional year. After a very disappointing 2018 season, the Bengals finally moved on from longtime coach Marvin Lewis. To replace him, they hired 35-year-old whizkid Zac Taylor away from the Rams.
Part of the reason 2018 was so disappointing was because of the season-ending injury quarterback Andy Dalton suffered. Fortunately for Cincinnati, Dalton is fully recovered from his thumb surgery and will be a full-go when OTA practices start, according to Geoff Hobson of the team’s official site. There were murmurs earlier this offseason that the team could look to move on from Dalton and go younger at the position, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. That being said, owner Mike Brown made it clear the team wasn’t in a rush to extend him recently.
“I think it’s a good year for (Dalton) to show like he can, like we think he will. After he re-establishes himself we would want to get together with him and see if we can extend it. I think Andy is a good player and that he will rebound off last year. He was hurt. We lost so many other pieces. It fell apart, but if he’s healthy and we stay healthy enough, I have confidence in him,” Brown said, issuing a slightly less than ringing endorsement.
Dalton was having a decent enough season before going down, but unfortunately he hasn’t been anything better than decent the past few years. Even though the team has publicly proclaimed confidence in him, it still wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bengals draft a quarterback early later this month.
The Bengals’ offense completely collapsed once Jeff Driskel took over following the injury, which at least showed the Bengals’ struggles weren’t all about Dalton. He wasn’t the only high profile Bengal to have their season cut short with an injury, as star receiver A.J. Green was limited to just nine games. Green struggled with a toe injury all year and was hurt a lot in 2016 as well, but Brown said at the same time he made his comments on Dalton that the team wanted to extend Green. Hobson writes that he expects the Bengals “to ease Green along” this offseason, whereas Dalton should be a full-go for practices.
If Dalton doesn’t make major strides under Taylor, it’s highly possible if not probable that the team will move on next offseason. One thing that’s helped him stick this far has been his reasonable contract. Dalton has two years left on his deal with a total of $33.5MM owed to him. It’s a pivotal year for Dalton, and the fact that he’ll be fully healthy to begin picking up the new system is a very positive development.
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