The Dalton Era officially ended in Cincinnati on Thursday as the Bengals released the longtime franchise quarterback less than a week after drafting LSU’s Joe Burrow as the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Burrow thew for an FBS record of 60 touchdowns in 2019, won the Heisman Trophy, and led the Tigers to a National Championship Title. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the former Katy High School Tiger requested the move:
It comes as no surprise that Dalton would request a move after the team requested his replacement. Formerly the Bengals’ primary starter, Dalton going the Bengals as a second-round pick out of TCU in 2011 quickly becoming the team’s starting quarterback. The 32-year old led Cincinnati to the playoffs five times where they lost in the wild-card round each time. The Bengals tried to trade the veteran quarterback as Dalton requested to see what opportunities would be awaiting him.
At the end of the 2019 season, Dalton hinted that he suspected that his win against the Browns may have been his last time suiting up for the Bengals. “This city has been our home since I got drafter here, and this city’s meant a lot. I’m thankful for all the people that we’ve met. There’s been a lot of good people in Cincinnati who have pushed me, my wife and my family to be better people and we’re grateful for that,” Dalton reflected. Dalton expressed that he wanted to be remembered as someone who was “all-in” for Cincinnati. “We’ve been all-in on Cincinnati since we got here,” Dalton said. “I hope the people see that.”
Early in the 2019 season, it became clear that Dalton might not have much of a future left in the franchise. The team did not give him an extension on his 6-year $96 million contract and opened the 2019 season with eight straight losses. Coach Zac Taylor benched Dalton allowing rookie Ryan Finley to take the field for three games. Dalton returned to the starting lineup on December 1st leading the Bengals to a 22-6 win over the New York Jets.
Dalton finished 2019 with a Total QBR of 40.1 ranking 27 out of 30 qualifying quarterbacks according to ESPN Stats.
The three-time Pro Bowler holds a 70-61-2 record in nine years as a starter. Dalton is currently the franchise’s career leader in touchdown passes with 204 touchdown passes and is second in passing yards with 31,594 behind Ken Anderson (who threw for 32,838 career passing yards).
During the combine in Indianapolis, reports suggested that the Bears reached out to the Bengals regarding a Dalton trade. The Bears also discussed a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars regarding a Nick Foles trade. Ultimately, the Bears obtained Foles. With a huge free agent like Cam Newton still available, the Bengals realized they weren’t going to find a trade partner willing to take on Dalton’s $17 million contract resulting in Dalton becoming a free agent.
There are a lot of speculations as to where Dalton may end up especially since Tom Brady left the New England. Fans are hinting at the probability of seeing Dalton suit up for the Patriots, comparing Brady and Dalton:
It’s no question that Dalton has had a great career thus far and has the stats to prove it:
Other speculations have people thinking Dalton could end up with Jacksonville or even Pittsburgh. Dalton is among a list of greats as one of only six (Dalton, Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger) to have hit 30,000 passing yards, 200 passing touchdowns, and 70 wins and would prove to be a good fit for teams on the market for a quarterback.