The Bengals are widely expected to select Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
Dalton has been the Bengals' starting quarterback for the past nine seasons, including his rookie year in 2011 when he started all 16 games after he was picked in the second round of the draft.
With the Bengals struggling last season, rookie fourth-round pick Ryan Finley started three games. Head coach Zac Taylor went back to Dalton after Finley failed to get the offense into a rhythm, but it was clear Cincinnati was open to a change under center.
Dalton made 13 starts last season, marking only the third time in his career that he didn't start all 16 games. The 32-year-old also had arguably the worst statistical season of his career, as he completed just 59.5 percent of his passes for 3,494 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
While Dalton's tenure in Cincinnati has largely been positive—he has a 70-61-2 record, 31,594 passing yards, 204 touchdowns and 118 interceptions, plus five playoff appearances to his credit—now is the right time to change things up.
The Bengals have missed the playoffs in each of the past four campaigns, and based on what Taylor did with Jared Goff as the Los Angeles Rams' quarterbacks coach in 2018, giving Taylor a young, talented quarterback to mold would be the best course of action.
Burrow has all the makings of a superstar after throwing for 60 touchdowns and leading LSU to the national championship last season. He may be precisely what Cincinnati needs to become a contender in the competitive AFC North again.
Even if the Bengals do select Burrow as expected, it shouldn't be too difficult for Dalton to land on his feet with a new team. One thing aiding him is the fact that 2020 is the final year on his contract, so any franchise that acquires Dalton won't have to make a long-term commitment.
With quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston all set to hit free agency, there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the position in the NFL.
If Brady does what had been previously unthinkable and leaves the New England Patriots, Dalton would make a lot of sense for New England given his veteran presence and experience.
Dalton could also go to a team such as the Chicago Bears, who don't seem sold on Mitchell Trubisky and may want to bring in some competition.
Last season was a difficult one for Dalton and the Bengals, but the totality of his career is impressive, and he has done enough over the years to earn a look elsewhere.