The third-year quarterback's recent performances have been rather lackluster. The rumblings continue as to whether Dalton has the ability and the mettle to lead the Bengals deep into the playoffs.
An interesting option has emerged: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman was released on Thursday, according to a statement released by the team. Now, with the five-year veteran on the market, could he possibly be a target for the Bengals?
Not a chance.
Despite throwing for 13,534 yards, 80 touchdowns and 66 interceptions in his career, Freeman in 2013 suffered through an even bigger slump than Dalton. Just compare their numbers for this season:
To put Freeman's production into perspective, his passer rating for 2013 is only 1.1-percent higher than Dalton's was during his horrid Week 4 performance against the Cleveland Browns.
However, there are arguments for a union between Freeman and the Bengals.
In a system relatively similar to Cincinnati's offense, Freeman flourished in 2010. His production that season far surpassed anything that Dalton has been capable of in his two-plus years. That season, Freeman threw for 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns against only six interceptions for a passer rating of 95.9.
What made Freeman's performance that year particularly brilliant was that he managed to be effective without a legitimate No. 1 receiver and a shaky running game. Imagine what he could have accomplished had he had the Bengals' offensive weapons at his disposal.
Despite his Pro-Bowl-caliber numbers in 2010, certain off-field issues have recently become public that may be Freeman's biggest obstacles.
A statement was released by an anonymous source that Freeman was in the NFL's substance-abuse program. The report stated that the quarterback has a prescription for Adderall to treat ADHD, but inadvertently took Ritalin which triggered a positive test.
According to a report by Sports Illustrated Freeman became a locker room distraction as well, and was fined twice over the last month for conduct detrimental to the team. Also, according to the The Washington Times, Freeman overslept for a team photo shoot, was not voted team captain for the first time in his five-year career and and missed at least one other team meeting.
These allegations against Freeman could have discouraged all 31 other NFL teams to stay away from the quarterback, as the Buccaneers called each franchise to request a trade.
Why does this affect the Bengals specifically?
Over the past few seasons, Cincinnati has been able to put together a young, hungry team that has jelled nicely and has a solid team chemistry. Long gone are the former divas that roamed the locker room, and in their places are humble superstars like A.J. Green and Geno Atkins.
A player with a poor history in the locker room can be viewed as a cancer by many teams. The Bengals of old may have taken a shot at Freeman, thinking there was unrealized potential to tap into, but the team has made it very clear that they would not be continuing in that pattern going forward.
Freeman is a talented player who still has many productive years ahead of him. He is currently a free agent and will certainly find a home somewhere—just not in Cincinnati.