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The New England Patriots represent the most logical landing spot for longtime Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton following his release Thursday.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported Dalton’s nine-year run with the Bengals was over.
The Patriots didn’t spend any picks on quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL draft despite the departure of team legend Tom Brady to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. They did sign Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith and Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke as undrafted free agents.
Smith and Lewerke are set to join Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer in what’s shaping up to become a wide-open competition heading into training camp with Stidham as the early favorite.
Dalton could vault to the forefront of the discussion if he signs with the Pats. He compiled 204 passing touchdowns and 118 interceptions in 133 regular-season appearances for the Bengals. He added 1,221 rushing yards and 22 scores on the ground over the last nine seasons.
The 32-year-old TCU product is an ideal fit for the game-manager role New England will likely set for its new signal-caller in the short term while searching for a true franchise QB to replace Brady in the next year or two. The Patriots will mostly rely on a defense-first brand of football to win games in the interim.
It’s not a guarantee Dalton would beat out Stidham and Co. heading into the 2020 season, but it represents his best chance to remain a starter after leaving Cincinnati.
Here’s a look at some other possible fits for the three-time Pro Bowl selection:
The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million contract to become their new starter after he went 5-0 with nine touchdowns and two interceptions in spot starts for the New Orleans Saints last season. He hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2015 with the Minnesota Vikings, though.
In turn, Carolina may want to add a veteran backup like Dalton as a safety net. Will Grier, who tallied four picks and no touchdowns in two games last year, and XFL standout P.J. Walker are the current reserves.
Gardner Minshew earned a chance to open 2020 as the Jags’ starter with 21 touchdowns as a rookie. The team traded Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears in March to leave the team without a proven backup.
Louis Riddick @LRiddickESPN
Would think #Jaguars for QB Andy Dalton before #Patriots. Why? New Jags OC Jay Gruden was in Cincy when they drafted him. #relationships
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Josh Dobbs and Jake Luton, a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft Saturday, are the other options. Dalton would represent an upgrade without being an imminent threat to Minshew’s job.
New York Jets
Sam Darnold has flashed high-end playmaking ability across his first two NFL seasons. His 81.1 passer rating leaves plenty of room for improvement, however, and he’s already missed six games because of injury in his short career.
Brady’s departure from New England has left the AFC East up for grabs, and the Jets can be a factor with strong quarterback play. Adding Dalton as an insurance policy is a better backup plan than the current trio of David Fales, Mike White and rookie James Morgan.
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