The Cincinnati Bengals kicked off their offseason marketing of quarterback Andy Dalton on Wednesday, who's expected to be traded by or before the 2020 NFL Draft. The Bengals hold the first overall pick and, barring some shocking turn of events, will select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport spoke with Bengals director of player personnel Dick Tobin who declined to confirm a trade is coming. However, it's clear Cincinnati wants to do right by Dalton, and the only reasonable way to accomplish that goal is by sending him to a team where he can compete for the starting job.
"I can tell you one thing, what Andy Dalton's done for the Cincinnati Bengals is not something that we're going to forget and we're not going to just willy-nilly, make something happen with him that, a) he's uncomfortable with and, b) that we're uncomfortable with," Tobin said. "He came in and won for us immediately, and he's certainly not done. He's got a lot of talent, he's got a lot of leadership. ... We have the utmost respect and high regard for Andy Dalton and we don't believe by a long stretch that his career is over."
Tobin is saying all the right things about a player who represents his biggest trade chip right now. There will definitely be a trade market for Dalton's services, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that his price goes as high as a third-round pick. It's more likely to settle as an early Day-3 selection.
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's experience with Dalton is a big advantage for GM Ryan Pace as he ponders a move for Dalton. Lazor can provide a direct and intimate scouting report of Dalton and whether he'd fit in Matt Nagy's system. If the answer is yes? Pace can't get cute; offer a fourth-round pick (which is likely coming to Chicago as a compensatory selection) and bring the 32-year-old to Chicago.
Dalton's career has had some promising moments. It's also been marred by some pretty awful Bengals teams. But if there's one thing he's proven during his nine seasons and 133 starts, it's that he can make all the throws and efficiently operate a game plan.
That's exactly what the Bears need in 2020 and beyond. Dalton will turn 33 next season and still has several good seasons left in his arm. He'd represent more than just competition for Trubisky; he'd be a legitimate starting quality quarterback Chicago can add on the cheap who can become the leader of the offense for several seasons.
Trading for Dalton has few, if any, risks. His $17 million cap hit in 2020 is below market value for a starter and he has just one deal remaining on his contract. If he stinks, the Bears can move on with no consequence. But if he turns his career around and has a Ryan Tannehill-like resurgence with the Bears, they'll control his rights and be able to re-sign him to a lucrative contract extension.
Dalton checks all the boxes. He won't cost much to acquire, he won't cost much against the salary cap, he has experience playing good football under the Bears' current offensive coordinator, and his history of production suggests he'd be an upgrade over Trubisky. The only thing left to do is actually trade for him, and that'll require Pace setting aside his ego and doing what's best for this team.