Andy Dalton, the Cincinnati Bengals and their fans have reason to celebrate today, as the team and quarterback have reached agreement on a long-discussed contract extension. As Paul Dehner, Jr., outlines at USAToday.com, though, the new deal doesn’t change much other than to head off a potential public squabble between Dalton and the Bengals.
On the surface, this is a nine-figure deal that moves Dalton into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks, pay-wise, but the truth is that Dalton is only guaranteed $17 million. Nothing to sneeze at, but he essentially will be working year-to-year after 2014, and future earnings will be tied to playoff performance.
That means we’ll be hearing about how the Bengals need to win in the playoffs, and how Dalton has yet to win a “big” NFL game, all season long. Ominously, Dalton’s new contract calls for a $4-million bonus to be paid next March, which probably seems like a formality at this point, but it’s not. As a long-time fan of the Indianapolis Colts fan, I can tell you that the beginning of the league year can be a cold and ugly time for QBs and their franchises.
Just ask Peyton Manning, released in March 2012 after a storied Indy career and one lost season.
To this point in his career, Dalton has played very well, though he’s a rung or two below the absolute best quarterbacks in the NFL. His new contract rightly rewards him for the excellent statistics he has posted over three years, and for the promise of what he might be able to accomplish under new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s system
We could see some real fireworks in 2014.
Even so, Mike Brown and Company are hedging their bets with Dalton’s new deal, and they’ll be watching closely, especially in January. In many ways, Dalton’s 2014 will be an audition for 2015, regardless of today’s announcement.
At least now we can enjoy the rest of the pre-season without thinking any more about Dalton’s contract.