Could Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton make a smooth transition to the New England Patriots offense if the team is in need of a new starting QB entering the 2020 NFL season? 

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is able to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career when the market opens March 18. If he leaves for another team, the Patriots will be left with 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham and third-stringer Cody Kessler as the only quarterbacks on the depth chart.

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The Patriots could go with Stidham, but another option is bringing in a veteran quarterback. The list of free agent quarterbacks is impressive, but if the Patriots don't want to pay a ton of money for one of the best players available, a trade for Dalton is one possibility. 

"If the Patriots lose Tom Brady, one of their backup plans may end up being Andy Dalton," Ian Rapoport said Sunday on NFL Network. "So it may not be something that's on the front burner, but it does sound like Dalton eventually will be traded this offseason."

Where does Dalton rank among the quarterbacks most ready to step into the Patriots' complex offense and succeed? Former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis believes Dalton is up to the challenge.

"I just think that of the quarterbacks out there, and what they're like and what they do, the guy who's most ready to play in the Patriots system -- even though not having been in the system, would be (Dalton)," Weis said Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio.


"This guy has won a lot of football games. He knows how to see the field, throwing it hasn't been the issue. The biggest issue with Cincinnati is the mentality in the building, No. 1, and the injuries to all the skill people on a yearly basis. Every year you watch Cincinnati, you ever see their full group of people all there together for an extended period of time? Hardly ever. And still, how many times did the guy go to the playoffs? A half dozen? How many of these other guys have been there a half dozen times?"

Weis added: "I don't know what their true feelings are about Stidham, because they might believe he's the next Tommy already. So I don't know if they'd be looking at Dalton to be Stidham's backup or be ahead of Stidham. I don't know what they'd be looking at. ... I just think Dalton would be a perfect person to go in somewhere where the starting quarterback was uncertain, and go in there and earn your spot. If you were Andy Dalton, could you think of a better scenario to go to than the Patriots?"

Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs five times, with the team's last appearance coming in 2015. He played in four of those five playoff games (missed the 2015 matchup due to injury) and tallied one touchdown pass with six interceptions overall. He has zero playoff wins. 

Dalton does have a lot of starting experience in his nine-year career, and Weis' point about injuries is a fair one. Dalton has not often had the luxury of a healthy offense, and elite wide receiver A.J. Green missing 23 games over the last two years certainly hasn't helped.

Giving Stidham a chance to be the starter probably is a better option than Dalton, but bringing in the Bengals quarterback to be the backup (or as insurance if Stidham fails) isn't a bad idea, either.

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