The Cincinnati Bengals have reached an agreement with starting quarterback Andy Dalton on a contract extension.
ESPN's Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan first reported details of the new deal:
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports reported more on Dalton's deal:
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk also reported on more details in Dalton's contract:
Dalton passed on the opportunity to load injury-only guarantees into the contract, since the Bengals would have wanted Dalton to buy a disability policy similar to the one that the 49ers had Colin Kaepernick buy as part of his six-year extension. The policy cost $2 million in pre-tax dollars, and (as we’ll explain in a separate post) creates a bizarre donut hole of protection for the player and the team.
The rest of the base deal is simple. In addition to annual workout bonuses of $200,000, Dalton has base salaries of $10.5 million in 2016, $13.1 million in 2017, $13.7 million in 2018, $16 million in 2019, and $17.5 million in 2020.
The Bengals shared an image of Dalton signing his contract:
Dalton also spoke about his new contract on Monday (via Coley Harvey ESPN):
Mike Brown also discussed Dalton and his new contract (via Harvey and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer):
Peter King of Sports Illustrated provided a statement from Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis discussing Dalton:
Dalton was set to enter the final year of his rookie deal before he agreed to the extension. There were questions about whether the Bengals were ready to give him any type of long-term commitment due to his lack of playoff success, but those have now been answered.
The fourth-year player out of TCU has been an above-average quarterback during the regular season. He averaged nearly 3,800 yards passing per year over his first three seasons while completing a shade under 61 percent of his throws with 80 touchdowns and 49 interceptions.
Unfortunately for Cincinnati, he's been unable to carry that success over to the postseason. The Bengals are 0-3 under Dalton in the playoffs, due in large part to his lack of success leading the offense. He has just one touchdown to go with six interceptions in those games.
There have been talks about it. There have been a couple of proposals sent over and different things. We're working. Hopefully, we can get something done.
I'm not too worried about it. I know in the right timing, everything is going to happen. Obviously, everyone would like to get something done sooner rather than later.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports how the deal impacts Dalton's teammate, A.J. Green:
Now that the deal is complete, the 26-year-old quarterback will likely become even more polarizing. It's a standoff between those who see a bright future based on the success in the regular season and those who see the postseason failures as a sign the Bengals should have let him play out his deal.
The biggest key for Dalton moving forward is actually quite clear. Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus notes the gap between Dalton's good and bad performances is more dependent on getting protection than most other quarterbacks:
Giving Dalton an extension means Cincinnati thinks he can work through those issues to become a true franchise quarterback. Ultimately, the success of the new deal hinges on that becoming the case—and that includes playoff victories.
Even though Dalton isn't a top-tier quarterback right now, he's been reliable enough during the regular season for the team to stick with him for the short term. There isn't an endless supply of talent at the position, so unless the Bengals have a clear plan to replace him, he's a solid option.
Looking ahead, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Bengals continue to look at developmental quarterbacks. They selected AJ McCarron in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft, but it's unclear if they view him as a long-term option. At the very least, the team used a late-round pick to see if McCarron can develop and eventually put some pressure on Dalton.
Otherwise, the team has committed to Dalton for now, and it will be interesting to see if he shows signs of improvement in his fourth season. The biggest test would come in the postseason, if he's able to lead Cincinnati there once again.
It's likely not all fans approve of the deal, but the Bengals felt the need to lock Dalton up when they had the opportunity.