America collectively shrugs, as the Andy Dalton era has ended in Cincinnati.
The former first-round pick led the Bengals to perhaps the closest thing they've had to a consistent heyday (a streak of a franchise-best five straight playoff appearances from 2011-15), but he failed to guide the team to a playoff win. He will officially sit when the Bengals return from their London-induced bye week, with fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley taking his place.
It's a tough break for Dalton, whose demotion came on his 32nd birthday, as he sits mostly in the runner-up slots to Ken Anderson in the Bengals' record books. However, there are several teams that could certainly take advantage of Dalton's services as is. Dalton does have a trade-friendly contract, one that would make him very attractive to a select handful of teams...
Tennessee has quite the quandary to ponder moving forward. It appears the Marcus Mariota experiment is being shut down, but the insertion of backup Ryan Tannehill has thrust the team back in the middle of an AFC postseason logjam, particularly in the open AFC South. Thus, the Titans (4-4) might not be able to fall far enough to get into the Tua Tagovailoa/Joe Burrow sweepstakes, requiring a stopgap of sorts under center with Tannehill signed to a one-year deal. Dalton has certainly proven himself capable of working with fiery offensive weapons before (AJ Green, Joe Mixon). The Titans are a team with similar talent, as Derrick Henry and Corey Davis are each struggling to gain traction in the wake of the Mariota plug-pull.
No hyperbole. Andy Dalton could waltz into Chicago this week and instantly go down as one of the top quarterbacks the NFL squad has ever had. Dalton, for example, has thrown at least 20 touchdowns in six seasons (including 21 in 2018). Chicago has only had 12 passers reach that mark in their entire history. Mitchell Trubisky is one of those men, but the team's patience could be wearing thin after the way this season has gone. An experienced veteran with perhaps some juice left in the tank, Dalton could perhaps be the perfect name to warm Trubisky's seat, an addition that would tell Trubisky "you're our guy...but we have the contingency option".
Another year, another campaign of no quarterback clarity in DC. The team appeared to set itself up well with the selection of Dwayne Haskins last spring, but one could hardly blame Haskins for wanting out ASAP as they continue to spin in the mud with Case Keenum at the helm. Thus, for what feels like the 28th consecutive year, the Redskins are looking for a quarterback. They might be just bad enough to look at the prized quarterbacks of 2020 (though they suffer because, unlike Miami and Cincinnati, the Redskins, GASP!, have a win), but their issues go far beyond a single slot on the depth chart. They previously tried to kill some time with Alex Smith at the helm, and things were going relatively decent before a devastating injury. Dalton could well become the stopgap that turned out to be more, if he does stick around to see the Redskins continue to build.