Andy Dalton

Bengals Won’t Re-Do Andy Dalton’s Deal

Andy Dalton is set to carry a $16.3MM cap number in the coming year, which is on the low end for a starting quarterback. Don’t look for them to renegotiate his deal, however.

We didn’t sign the Andy Dalton deal because we thought it was a good deal. At the time it was an expensive deal. It was a heavy lift,” Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn said (via the team website). “We did it because Andy was a winning starting quarterback in the National Football League, he had demonstrated that. We know statistically your best chance of success is by rewarding your own players and maintaining that quality core. That is what drove that. We are certainly aware quarterback deals have evolved since then. We know that at the right time we will have to evolve as well. We don’t think this is the time right now. What we are going to focus on right now is building the best team for 2018 we possibly can.”

The Bengals inked Dalton to a six-year deal in the summer of 2014 that made him the team’s all-time highest-paid player in terms of annual average value. The $16MM rate doesn’t look like much now, but at the time, it was a significant payout.

With Dalton under contract through 2020, the Bengals have little incentive to rework his contract at this time. His performance also hasn’t warranted a pay bump. Dalton earned Pro Bowl nods in 2014 and 2016 and quietly had a strong year in between, but last season he completed just 59.9% of his passes and threw for a career low 3,320 yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: M. Peters, Harrison, Pryor

Now that the Chiefs have acquired David Amerson and are on the verge of adding Kendall Fuller — once the Alex Smith trade is finalized — Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if Kansas City could trade Marcus Peters. Peters, whom the Chiefs selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, has quickly established himself as one of the better corners in the league, but as Florio notes, he has been a “handful” for Kansas City, and the incident that got Peters suspended for a game in December may have been the last straw for the team. Florio says “some in league circles” believe Peters could be on the trade block, and Alex Marvez of SiriusXM appears to think it’s a possibility as well (Twitter link).

Let’s take a look at more notes from around the AFC:

  • There is a “reasonable chance” that James Harrison returns to the Patriots in 2018, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk (citing Christopher Price of the Boston Sports Journal) writes. New England successfully deployed Harrison as a three-down player after acquiring him late last season, and as Harrison recently indicated he wants to play at least one more year, it may make sense for both parties to continue their relationship.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says it does appear as if well-respected offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia will be back with the Patriots in 2018, a prospect that was very much in doubt just a few weeks ago.
  • The Browns will pursue a reunion with free agent wideout Terrelle Pryor this offseason, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Cabot says Pryor never really wanted to leave Cleveland last year, but when the Browns signed Kenny Britt to the same contract they had on the table for Pryor, he didn’t have a choice.
  • The devastating injury to Ryan Shazier will not impact the way the Steelers approach their decision-making with respect to fifth-year options, as Florio writes.
  • Now that A.J. McCarron is set to leave the Bengals, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer wonders what his departure will mean for Cincinnati. He says Andy Dalton is not going anywhere — which was at least a remote possibility before Marvin Lewis decided to return — and he believes the Bengals could look to address other, more pressing needs in the early rounds of the 2018 draft and select a polished collegiate signal-caller in the middle rounds (just as they did with McCarron). Owczarski also suggests that Cincinnati could add a veteran on a one-year deal to back up Dalton.

QB Rumors: Rodgers, Stanton, Bengals

Mike McCarthy appeared to move closer to the prospect the Packers could shut down Aaron Rodgers for the season’s remainder on Monday. The Green Bay HC said Rodgers was sore and the staff is “working through that” after the all-world quarterback’s re-emergence game against the Panthers, and the coach said he would watch the Falcons-Buccaneers game closely Monday night, per Ryan Wood and Michael Cohen of PackersNews.com. The Falcons are currently leading, and that result holding would end the Packers’ eight-season playoff streak tonight. McCarthy being noncommittal about Rodgers’ status after the Week 15 Green Bay loss, coupled with his Monday-night plans, would indicate a possible consideration of giving Rodgers a longer offseason to fully recover and prepare for 2018.

Here’s the latest from the quarterback position as Week 15 winds down.

  • As for Rodgers’ offseason, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports suggests it would be a good time to lock down Rodgers to a “monster” extension. The quarterback has seen inferior passers usurp him on the salary list in the past few years and would be in position to command a deal close to $30MM annually if he so chose. The salary cap is expected to rise between $174MM and $179MM from this year’s $167MM ceiling. Rodgers’ five-year, $110MM extension came in a year (2013) when the cap rested at $123MM. There are two years remaining on Rodgers’ contract following this season. The 34-year-old passer has no guaranteed money left on his deal, which has cap numbers of just $20.9MM and $21.1MM lined up for 2018 and ’19, respectively.
  • La Canfora also writes the Bengals playing A.J. McCarron instead of Andy Dalton during the final two games would be prudent. McCarron could end up a UFA depending on the outcome of his grievance, which is set for February. As of now, the fourth-year passer is set to be a restricted free agent. However, Marvin Lewis said (via Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer) he plans to keep Dalton in his starting role despite another sub-.500 season being guaranteed. La Canfora writes Dalton, who is attached to a team-friendly contract that runs through 2020 but contains little guaranteed money going forward, could “easily” be traded. McCarron, of course, was nearly traded to the Browns for a second- and third-round pick. The career backup’s attempted just 133 regular-season passes.
  • The Cardinals will be shaking up their quarterback status quo by turning back to Drew Stanton after going with Blaine Gabbert for five games. Bruce Arians (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, on Twitter) confirmed his initial Carson Palmer contingency plan will take back the reins. This comes after Arians raved about Gabbert’s abilities and with the Cardinals reportedly discussing an extension with the former first-round pick. Stanton started two games for the Cards earlier this season before going down with an injury. Stanton is signed through 2018.
  • Tom Savage‘s scary injury in Week 14 did not immediately result in his removal from that Texans-49ers game, making it a seminal sequence in the NFL’s ongoing concussion crisis. And Bill O’Brien said Monday (per Mark Berman of Fox 26, on Twitter) the fourth-year quarterback may not play again this season. T.J. Yates started in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Jaguars. Savage stands to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Bengals Would Use First-Round Tender On A.J. McCarron?

Bengals backup quarterback A.J. McCarron is filing a grievance against his team in an effort to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Cincinnati drafted him in 2014 and placed him on the non-football injury (NFI) list at the start of training camp that year due to a shoulder injury, and McCarron contends that he was healthy enough to come off the NFI list during training camp. The Bengals, however, did not activate him until December 9, 2014, so he did not accrue a season of service time.

A.J. McCarron (Vertical)

As such, he is currently scheduled to become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2017 campaign, meaning that the Bengals would have the right of first refusal if another club signed him to an offer sheet. And, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Cincinnati plans to use a first-round tender on McCarron if he loses his grievance and remains a restricted free agent.

The first-round tender amount in 2017 was just shy of $4MM, which is not an enormous expense for a coveted signal-caller, especially since the Bengals owe their starting QB, Andy Dalton, a non-guaranteed $13.7MM salary in 2018. However, as Schefter notes, a first-round tender would make it difficult for another team to simply sign McCarron to an offer sheet, as such a team would need to send a first-round draft choice to Cincinnati if the Bengals refused to match the offer sheet.

Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, though, says it is likely the Bengals would use a second-round tender on McCarron, and that the team could simply elect to match any offer he receives as a restricted free agent and then try to trade him. Of course, if McCarron wins his grievance, it is highly unlikely he returns to Cincinnati, and the Bengals would probably net a 2019 third-round compensatory choice if/when he signs elsewhere.

Interestingly, Schefter writes that the Browns, who bungled the opportunity to trade for McCarron last week, could also attempt to pursue Dalton via trade this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andy Dalton To Remain Bengals’ Starting QB

The Bengals are 0-2, have yet to score a touchdown, and have already fired their offensive coordinator, but Cincinnati isn’t considering a change under center, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports Andy Dalton is not in danger of losing the club’s starting quarterback job.Andy Dalton

Backup signal-caller A.J. McCarron is well-regarded by both the Bengals and the rest of the NFL, per La Canfora, an unsurprising sentiment given that the Bengals were reportedly offered a second-round pick in exchange for McCarron this offseason. And while Dalton isn’t on a “short leash,” Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis recently indicated changes could come to the Bengals’ roster following the ouster of offensive-play caller Ken Zampese.

“This is not magic,” Lewis said, per Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “You have to do the work. Offense, defense and special teams all alike. Changing; I said we got Kenny out of here. Not Kenny. We did. And they gotta understand that. They’re part of that. And the next time, look around, there will be different guys sitting there. And they realize that, too.”

Through two games, Dalton has posted a quarterback rating that’s nearly half that of his career average while throwing four interceptions against zero touchdowns. Cincinnati’s offense has struggled as a whole, as the running game has sputtered while the club’s beleaguered offensive line ranks 29th in adjusted sack rate. All told, the Bengals are dead last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings.

Franchise owner Mike Brown isn’t necessarily blaming the Bengals players for the team’s poor start, however — prior to Zampese’s firing, Brown told the Cincinnati staff that on-field talent wasn’t the club’s problem, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bengals, Bradford, Packers

A “near mutiny” helped induce the Bengals to fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after two games. Although Andy Dalton‘s job is not believed to be in jeopardy as of now, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes the leash might not be especially long for the seventh-year starter. And some Cincinnati players might not all be on board with a simple A.J. McCarron succession strategy. While it would certainly be an off-the-board choice, Florio hears some Bengals players are expressing support for a Colin Kaepernick signing.

The UFA passer has been the NFL’s most discussed player this offseason despite not being affiliated with a team. McCarron’s been a Bengal since 2014 but has never threatened Dalton’s job security, only seeing relevant action after a Dalton injury in 2015. Kaepernick said recently he does want to return to the NFL, and has been training daily for a potential chance. Many players have publicly endorsed the 29-year-old quarterback receiving an opportunity. A Bengals route might be a stretch, though, considering McCarron’s status.

Dalton currently sits on a 55 percent completion percentage and a 0-to-4 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio. The Bengals have not scored a touchdown in two games and have posted just nine points.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions.

  • The Vikings played without Sam Bradford on Sunday, and the Case Keenum-led team lost to the Steelers. Bradford’s knee injury has him at day-to-day for the time being, but Florio hears the quarterback’s injured knee is “structurally fine.” Mike Zimmer used “fine” to describe Bradford’s status (Twitter link), even though the coach was vague in setting a return timetable. Any further game absences would signal the eighth-year signal-caller is, in fact, not fine.
  • Green Bay will be playing without both starting tackles tonight in Atlanta. Longtime Packers starters David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga will miss the Falcons tilt, the team announced. Bulaga missed last week’s game due to an ankle injury suffered during preseason play. A hamstring malady will shelve Bakhtiari. Kyle Murphy and Justin McCray will start, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports. A fourth-year UDFA, McCray has yet to play in an NFL game.
  • The Bears will not deviate at quarterback despite Mike Glennon‘s struggles, John Fox said today. Fox shot down the idea Mitch Trubisky would start in Week 3 for the 0-2 team. Glennon threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in a blowout against his former team in Week 2.
  • The Ravens received the toughest blow of any North-division team Sunday, losing Marshal Yanda for the season.

Bengals QB A.J. McCarron Wouldn’t Oppose Trade

A.J. McCarron‘s tenure with the Bengals could be coming to an end. The backup quarterback told Jim Owczarski of Cincinnati.com that he wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if he was traded this offseason.

AJ McCarron“Now, it’s nothing I can do,” McCarron said. “I try not to worry about it. You’re always gonna think about it. I’d be lyin’; whoever told you that I wouldn’t, or if they were going through the same situation, you’re going to think about it. Because you want to play as a competitor. I’ll let my agent handle everything and go with whatever he says.”

Despite having been in the organization for the past three years, the signal-caller indicated that he wouldn’t be upset if he was dealt elsewhere.

“No,” he said. “I definitely wouldn’t be distraught at all. Like I told Marvin (Lewis) and all my coaches in my exit meetings, I appreciate everybody in this organization. I really do. From the bottom of my heart. They gave me a chance when a lot of people wouldn’t.”

McCarron joined the organization as a fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft. The former Alabama standout had to sit out his entire rookie campaign as he recovered from a shoulder ailment, but he got several opportunities in 2015 when starter Andy Dalton went down with an injury. In the final four games of that campaign, McCarron threw for 832 yards, six touchdowns, and only two interceptions. The quarterback also got a playoff start that season, throwing for 212 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a Bengals’ loss to the Steelers.

The team got 16 games out of Dalton this season, and McCarron didn’t see the field as a result. Dalton inked a pricey six-year extension with the franchise in 2014. Since the red-head will be starting for the Bengals for the foreseeable future, it’s no surprise that McCarron would want an opportunity to start elsewhere.

Furthermore, McCarron could be an attractive trade target for teams that aren’t looking to invest big money in a quarterback. The 26-year-old will be entering the final year of his contract next season and is only owed $735K.

Owczarski believes the team’s claiming of rookie quarterback Jeff Driskel could be an indication that they’ll shop McCarron this offseason. The third-year pro also recognized that the transaction was a sign that he could be shopped.

“As a quarterback, you understand something might be happening and they’re trying to find somebody they’re possibly comfortable with. But you never know,” McCarron said. “Especially during the season, I don’t ever think about those things. I just don’t put my mind on it.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jets, Bengals, Broncos, Titans

Former Jets second-round pick Devin Smith is confident that he’ll be able to contribute to the team in 2016, according to Zac Jackson of ProFootballTalk.com. The wideout was banged up for most of training camp last year, and his season ended following a torn ACL in December.

“Physically, I feel great,” he said. “My weight is up. I feel healthy. The trainers have pushed me in the right direction. The trainers at the Jets have been great. I feel totally comfortable that they’ll have me back when the right time comes. They watch me closely and we have great communication.

“It’s one day at a time. I really do feel better most days than I did the day before, the week before. They haven’t told me much about a timetable because the focus is just on me getting better. I know when camp starts, [how much time] we have, and I’m just glad I’m making the progress I’m making now. Hopefully we keep going in the right direction.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…

  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com explores some of the Bengals best and worst contracts. Quarterback Andy Dalton‘s six-year, $96MM contract (with $17MM guaranteed) is rated as the best, while defensive tackle Domata Peko‘s two-year, $9MM contract (with $4.4MM guaranteed) is named the worst.
  • Broncos safety Shiloh Keo had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence, reports Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post. The 28-year-old was arrested in February in Idaho.
  • The Titans made quarterback Matt Cassel a priority in free agency, writes Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. General manager Jon Robinson and coach Mike Mularkey were both fans, and Robinson was familiar with Cassell due to their Patriots roots.

North Notes: Dalton, K. Long, Wolf, Steelers

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will meet with a specialist on Monday to determine his progress since fracturing his right thumb on December 13, but according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Dalton doesn’t know exactly what to expect from the visit. He hasn’t ruled himself out for a potential wild card game next weekend, but he isn’t expressing much optimism, either. “It depends how it feels and what the doctor says,” Dalton said today. “It’s hard to tell exactly how it feels. It’s getting better. That’s what they’re saying.”

Let’s dive into some more notes from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Kyle Long confirmed to reporters, including Patrick Finely of the Chicago Sun-Times, that he’ll be playing tackle for the Bears next season — but he still doesn’t know if he’ll man the right or left side. The former first-round pick slid out from guard to right tackle this season, and according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), didn’t fare all that well, grading as the league’s 40th-best tackle.
  • Packers executive Eliot Wolf could have his “pick of jobs,” according to Neil Stratton of Inside the League (Twitter link), as both the Lions and the Browns could express interest. However, Wolf is also seen as the heir apparent to current Packers general manager Ted Thompson, so Wolf might not be too eager to jump ship just yet.
  • Getting a head start on possible offseason futures deals, the Steelers brought in kicker Ty Long, receiver Levi Norwood, and quarterback Phillip Sims for workouts, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

La Canfora’s Latest: Dalton, Falcons, Manning

As the second slate of games near halftime, lets’s take a look at the latest from Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com…

  • Andy Dalton‘s recent thumb injury could end up costing the Bengals quarterback millions of dollars in escalators, according to La Canfora. Per clauses in Dalton’s six-year, $96MM extension, he can earn extra cash by playing in 80% of Cincinnati’s snaps during the regular season, while separate escalators are tied to his playing (and winning) in each successive round of the postseason. All told, writes La Canfora, Dalton could add $15MM to his current deal, but those plateaus are obviously at risk now.
  • Falcons ownership is growing frustrated with the club’s lack of success and is considering firing general manager Thomas Dimitroff, writes La Canfora, who adds that Seahawks director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner and Vikings assistant GM George Paton could each be strong candidates to fill the position (each has a professional history with Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn). It sounds like current AGM Scott Pioli (a Dimitroff friend) could also be on the chopping block.
  • Major changes could also be coming to the Titans staff, and rumors persist that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning could land in Tennessee as something of a football czar, with former NFL exec Bill Polian (who drafted Manning) as team president. In such a scenario, Polian’s son Chris could act as general manager, while Jaguars assistant Doug Marrone or Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase would be candidates to serve as head coach.