Ryan Finley

Bengals To Reinstall Andy Dalton As Starter

Andy Dalton will return to the Bengals’ starting lineup in Week 13. Benched for rookie Ryan Finley, the ninth-year starter will be back taking the snaps against the Jets, Zac Taylor announced.

We just want a win, and that veteran presence he has will certainly be helpful,” Taylor said Monday, adding that he expects the 32-year-old veteran to be the Bengals’ starter the rest of the way, via Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic (on Twitter).

This does mark an interesting direction change for the Bengals, who were 0-8 with Dalton. They have, however, lost their most recent three games under Finley. A fourth-round pick, Finley was given three starts. He will return to the bench with a 47.1% completion rate, with 5.4 yards per attempt. Sunday will be Dalton’s 129th career start.

Dalton has completed 60.4 percent of his passes and is averaging 6.7 yards per attempt. The three-time Pro Bowler would seemingly be a trade candidate next year or profile as a player who would groom a 2020 rookie quarterback. His reinsertion into Cincinnati’s lineup certainly seems like a move being made to avoid the third 0-16 season in NFL history. This is the Bengals’ first 0-11 start in their 52-season history. They were previously 0-10 in 1993. This Bengals edition is coming off a home loss to a Steelers team that turned to Devlin Hodges at quarterback.

If the Bengals have seen what they needed to see from Finley, this further points to the team using its No. 1 overall pick on a quarterback. As of now, LSU’s Joe Burrow looks like the clubhouse leader to be the first passer drafted. But a lot can change between now and April. The Bengals have not used a first-round pick on a quarterback since 2003, when they chose Carson Palmer. Dalton was a 2011 second-round pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Bench Andy Dalton, Will Start Ryan Finley

The Andy Dalton era in Cincinnati appears to be coming to an end. The Bengals are sending Dalton to the bench following their bye week, sources told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Pelissero notes that rookie Ryan Finley is expected to start. The Bengals sit at 0-8 so the decision isn’t shocking, but it’s still monumental. Dalton was drafted by the Bengals back in 2011, and immediately became their starter. He’s been under center for the team for the past 8.5 seasons, and has had a lot of success in Cincy. The Bengals can move on from Dalton after this season without any dead cap charge, so this is probably it unless he’s reinserted before the end of this season.

There’s also a small chance Dalton could be traded in the next few hours now that he’s no longer the starter. It still seems unlikely, but it’s at least worth pondering. Zac Taylor’s first year as head coach has gotten off to a disastrous start, and the team is entering a full-blown rebuild. The Bengals are making the move so they can get a good look at Finley to help determine whether or not they need to draft a quarterback early next April, a source told Albert Breer of SI.com (Twitter link). Obviously, the Bengals are on track for a high draft pick.

Cincinnati took Finley in the fourth-round of this past draft. An N.C. State product, Finley was a three-year starter for the Wolfpack. Finley had a weird college career that included multiple redshirts and a transfer, so he’s pretty old for a rookie. He started college in 2013, and will turn 25 in December. His first career NFL start will come following the team’s bye against the Ravens in Week 10.

The 35th overall pick of the 2011 draft, Dalton made three Pro Bowls with the team. At one point under Marvin Lewis he led the Bengals to five straight playoff appearances, although he never was able to win a postseason game. Word of the move came on Dalton’s birthday. Not the gift he was looking for.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Foles, Driskel, Butt, Cardinals

After a rough year with the 2015 Rams, Nick Foles nearly retired. That turned out to provide astonishing benefit to the Eagles, who won Super Bowl LII thanks largely to Foles’ virtuoso performance. But going into the 2017 season, Foles had retirement on his mind again. Injuries at the time prompted Foles to inform at least one Eagles teammate, Brandon Graham, he planned to retire at season’s end (video link via ESPN.com’s Tim McManus). Fortunes changed for the 30-year-old passer, who piloted four playoff wins since considering another early NFL exit. The Jaguars guaranteed him $50MM in March on a four-year, $88MM contract. This will be Foles’ eighth NFL season.

Ahead of preseason Week 2, here is the NFL’s latest:

  • Jeff Driskel is not a lock to make the Bengals‘ 53-man roster, with fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley progressing toward the QB2 role. On Tuesday, the team experimented with its 2018 backup as a wide receiver, Jay Morrison of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Driskel would still prefer to play quarterback, but Finley will work with Cincinnati’s second-stringers in the team’s second preseason game. Zac Taylor approached Driskel on Tuesday about taking reps at receiver, per Morrison. Driskel played quarterback at Florida and Louisiana Tech; he was also a late-round Red Sox draft pick in 2013. He rushed for 130 yards last season (5.2 per scramble).
  • Attempting to return to the Broncos‘ 53-man roster after a third ACL tear, Jake Butt spent most of camp sidelined because of another setback. But he made it back to 11-on-11 drills Tuesday, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Despite Austin Fort‘s season-ending injury, the Broncos still have three other tight ends — Noah Fant, Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli. But the latter, a 2018 fifth-rounder who missed all of last season, worked as an H-back/fullback on Tuesday. Vic Fangio said Fumagalli could fit in there while Andy Janovich recovers from a pectoral injury. This would be a way for the Broncos to roster four tight ends.
  • Despite A.Q. Shipley and Mason Cole listed as co-starters at center on the Cardinals‘ depth chart, the former is expected to earn his job back. The 33-year-old is a “virtual lock” to be Arizona’s first-string snapper in Week 1, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. Cole has also worked at guard, pointing to an interior swing role for the team’s 2018 starting center. Shipley, the Cards’ center starter from 2015-17, missed all of last season due to an ACL tear but was given a one-year, $1.6MM extension during his recovery.
  • Browns defensive end Chad Thomas dodged a scare in a recent practice. The second-year defender was carted off the Berea, Ohio, practice field Monday and hospitalized. But the Miami product was quickly released and diagnosed with a neck sprain.
  • Buccaneers wide receiver Bryant Mitchell was not as fortunate. He suffered a torn left Achilles’ tendon in the team’s preseason opener, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. A three-year Edmonton Eskimo, who posted 867 receiving yards in 2018, Mitchell caught on with the Bucs in May.

Bengals Sign Fourth-Round QB Ryan Finley

The Bengals have signed fourth-round quarterback Ryan Finley, according to a team announcement. With that, the Bengals are left with just one unsigned draft pick in third-round linebacker Germaine Pratt

Finley, an N.C. State product, was one of the older players in this year’s draft at the age of 24. He’ll even celebrate his 25th birthday before the 2019 season is through, but the Bengals still believe in his upside.

Finley started his collegiate career at Boise State, where he graduated inside of three years. When Brett Rypien took the starting job, he transferred to N.C. State and started all 13 games in 2016. He topped 3,000 passing yards in his first season with the Wolfpack and threw for 18 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. Things only picked up from there, culminating in 3,928 yards and 25 touchdowns (against eleven interceptions) in 2018.

In Cincinnati, Finley will learn from longtime starter Andy Dalton. Quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and rookie Jake Dolegala are also on the Bengals’ offseason roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Trade No. 104 To Bengals

The Bengals have acquired pick No. 104 from the 49ers, reports Matt Maiocco NBC Sports Bay Area (via Twitter). The 49ers acquired a third-rounder (No. 110) and a pair of sixth-rounders (No. 183, No. 198).

The Bengals will use the pick on NC State quarterback Ryan Finley. Following two seasons with Boise State, Finley had the opportunity to start for NC State over the past three seasons. He finished the 2018 campaign having completed 67.4-percent of his passes for 3,928 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

Finley shouldn’t supplant Andy Dalton for playing time, but he should at least push the veteran. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes that Finley was the only quarterback prospect the Bengals hosted during the pre-draft process.

Giants Targeting Late First-Round QB?

The Giants could theoretically pass on quarterbacks at No. 6 and No. 17 overall and still come away with a QB tonight. Talk is spreading about the Giants potentially trading back into the first round to land either West Virginia’s Will Grier or North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reports (on Twitter). 

Neither Finley nor Grier has garnered as much ink as top QBs Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones. Still, the Giants have holes to fill and a big desire to bolster their pass rush, so rumor has it they may pass on all four with their first two choices. It’s worth noting that Vacchiano doesn’t believe the Giants “love” Finley, so Grier could be their preferred target.

The Seahawks (picks Nos. 21, 29) and the Colts (No. 26) have shown an interest in trading back, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), so either club could be a match for the Giants in this scenario.

Meanwhile, GM Dave Gettleman seems to be hinting that the Giants will not take a QB at all in the first round.

We want to come out of [the first round] with two legitimate starters [who] can step in and help us win now,” Gettleman told NFL Network (via PFT).

Meanwhile, Gettleman confirmed that a rookie quarterback would not start ahead of Eli Manning.

No, he wouldn’t [start right away], but it’s the position,” Gettleman said. “The worse place you can be is quarterback hell.”

Bengals Could Draft Quarterback Early?

The Bengals have a big offseason ahead of them. It’s the first year of the Zac Taylor era after the team finally fired Marvin Lewis after 16 seasons. Cincinnati has Andy Dalton at quarterback, but they might not be sold on him as the longterm answer. As such, the Bengals could very realistically use their first round pick on a quarterback, according to a panel on NFL Network (video Twitter link).

Bengals owner Mike Brown recently said the team wasn’t in any rush to extend Dalton and indicated the TCU product would need to prove himself this season, so this isn’t too surprising. Last week we heard that Dalton, who ended last year on injured reserve after undergoing thumb surgery, would be fully healthy for the offseason program.

On the panel, Mike Garafolo said he talked to other teams picking near the Bengals, and stated “other teams are watching them saying ‘that is a potential landing spot for a quarterback.'” Garafolo points out that quarterback needy teams like the Dolphins and Redskins pick after the Bengals, and there’s a good chance they’ll need to jump ahead of Cincinnati if they want a signal-caller.

One interesting nugget that could bode well for Dalton is that the only top quarterback the Bengals have brought into their building for a visit is N.C. State’s Ryan Finley, according to Ian Rapoport. Finley “has a shot at being a second rounder,” Rapoport says, but isn’t a realistic option for the Bengals with the 11th overall pick. The Bengals could draft Finley sometime on Day 2 and let him be the backup initially without having a quarterback controversy on their hands.

That being said, that doesn’t mean the Bengals won’t draft a passer who they haven’t hosted on an official visit. Rapsheet notes that the team “spent some time” with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins around his pro day, and he could be a target if he slips to them. Thanks to having five sixth round picks, the Bengals own 11 picks overall in the upcoming draft, and they will be one of the more interesting teams to monitor in Nashville.