NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday the Bengals will "work with Andy Dalton to facilitate a trade out of Cincinnati when the time is right."
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
From NFL Now: The #Bengals are willing to work with QB Andy Dalton on a trade, I'm told, a plan that has been communicated to him. This meshes with what exec Duke Tobin told me a few weeks ago that when decisions happen, "I'll be in contact with him." (https://t.co/rrfjo3eYy9) https://t.co/WPr3gb65rV
The Bengals selected Carson Palmer with the first overall pick in 2003 and then had back-up Jon Kitna for the entirety of his rookie season.
Assuming Burrow is the choice for Cincinnati in April, the team could adopt the same approach and have Dalton play out the remainder of his contract before making a quarterback change. Dalton is in the final year of his deal, accounting for a $17.7 million cap hit.
All parties involved would benefit from a separation, though.
Financially it makes little sense for the Bengals to carry that kind of cap hit for a veteran quarterback who isn't in their future plans and when they're unlikely to be a playoff contender. Trading or releasing Dalton wouldn't add any dead money to the team's cap.
And in general, succession plans rarely work out as intended.
The New York Giants had something along those lines in mind after taking Daniel Jones in the first round of the 2019 draft. Eli Manning was an upcoming free agent, so Jones could spend his first year on the bench before taking over in 2020.
Instead, the Giants benched Manning after two games and gave the starting job to Jones.
Coming off a two-win season, the Bengals might as well hand the keys over to Burrow or another rookie quarterback.
Cincinnati should be able to flip Dalton for something of value, too. Teams looking for a quarterback that strike out in free agency might see him as a fallback plan.
The 32-year-old threw for 3,494 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2019. His performance undoubtedly suffered with A.J. Green missing the entire season.
In general, he's a proven passer with a solid baseline—something that won't be taken for granted by franchises with playoff ambitions.