The Bengals can, and almost definitely will, take their QB of the future, Joe Burrow, with the first overall pick in April's NFL draft. This leaves Andy Dalton, the man who has been under center for Cincinnati since 2011, in a tough spot. At only 32, Dalton isn't quite ready to be relegated to backup duty, and the Bengals probably aren't interested in paying him the $17.5 million he's owed in 2020 to sit on the bench.
Cincinnati can cut Dalton with no cap penalty this offseason, and that's probably what they'll do if worst comes to worst. But a trade is very much in the cards and in the interests of both parties; Dalton threw for 3,495 yards without his top target all season for a very bad team, so he's still got something left in the tank. Cincinnati doesn't want to lose him for nothing if they don't absolutely have to. To whit, Ian Rapoport said the team is willing to work with Dalton on a trade earlier today.
Here are three teams who could be reaching out to Cincinnati to secure Dalton's services.
New England Patriots
If Tom Brady leaves, the Patriots will have a hole at quarterback for the first time in two decades. Should they feel Jarrett Stidham isn't ready and aren't partial to any of the other free agent quarterbacks in this year's stacked market, Dalton presents an intriguing bridge while they search for their long-term signal-caller. If Bill Belichick made the call, Dalton and his agent would have to be ready to restructure his contract; he possesses a cap hit of $17.5 million, which would take up nearly all of New England's available cap space this summer. He's a good enough quarterback to ensure the offense isn't a complete liability across from their elite defense, and is a similar enough type of passer to Brady that Josh McDaniels wouldn't need to overhaul the offense.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers need someone at quarterback now that Philip Rivers is officially out. They have the skill position players to compete, and Dalton could help the team bounce back from a down year; while the temptation to sell out for Trevor Lawrence is undoubtedly strong, the franchise wants to sell tickets more than anything, and Dalton would keep them competitive. Dalton, however, is one of the worst QBs in the league when facing pressure, and the Chargers have a paltry offensive line, so there is a risk factor there.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bruce Arians has a lot of experience reviving the careers of older quarterbacks. Dalton certainly isn't Kurt Warner, but could be resuscitated in a similar manner. The Bucs could move on from Jameis Winston and his perennial double-digit interception count and don't have an obvious heir apparent. Dalton always had a great connection with the weapons he was given in Cincinnati when they were on the field, and perhaps no team in the NFL boasts as dangerous of a one-two combination than Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The fit is there if Tampa decides Winston isn't their guy.