Longtime Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said Thursday it's possible he remains with the organization, even if it selects LSU signal-caller Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
Dalton told Michael Silver of NFL.com nothing is set in stone with the draft set to begin next Thursday.
"I truly believe they want what's best for me, but I understand it's a business, and you know how that goes," he said. "With the first pick, if they take a quarterback like everyone expects, that could trigger something. There's even a scenario where I go back there."
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor relayed a similar play-it-by-ear approach about the QB's future with the team to Elise Jesse of WLWT last week (via Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports).
"Every option is on the table out there," Taylor said. "We're trying to put ourselves in the best position to make sure we're prepared for next season and we have the best assets we can have. We think the world of Andy, obviously. It's just kind of a weekly process for us."
Cincinnati's financial situation may not allow the front office to keep the 32-year-old TCU product, though.
The Bengals only have $8.95 million in available salary-cap space heading into the draft, per Spotrac, and Burrow, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and presumptive No. 1 selection, will take up most of that.
So the team will need to create some financial wiggle room to sign its other draftees and any free agents necessary to fill out their roster for the 2020 campaign. Releasing Dalton before the final season of his six-year, $96 million contract would create $17.7 million in space and leave no dead-cap money.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection has completed 62 percent of his throws for 31,594 yards with 204 touchdowns and 118 interceptions across 133 regular-season appearances since the franchise selected him in the second round of the 2011 draft.
Dalton could attract interest from the Los Angeles Chargers or New England Patriots as a potential competitor for their starting quarterback job in 2020. He'd battle Tyrod Taylor in L.A. or Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer in New England, barring any further additions by those teams in the draft.
Otherwise, he'd likely have no problem finding a backup job for next season.