The Bengals are releasing quarterback Andy Dalton, per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter — a move that would indicate Cincinnati is all-in on Joe Burrow being a Day 1 starter.
Dalton, a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, spent his entire nine years in the NFL with the Bengals. He compiled a 70-61-2 record in Cincinnati, leading the team to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons (2011-15) with four double-digit win seasons. That success diminished greatly in the latter half of his tenure, however: Cincinnati never won more than six games in a season from 2016-19 and missed the postseason each year.
Dalton will finish his Bengals career as the franchise’s career leader in passing touchdowns (204). He also finished second in passing yards (31,594) and completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 1,000 attempts (62.0).
His release saves $17.5 million in base salary for the Bengals in the 2020 season.
With Dalton’s release, Burrow is almost assuredly going to be the Bengals’ starter at quarterback from Day 1, considering the only other quarterbacks on the roster are former N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley and Jake Dolegala of Central Connecticut State.
Burrow’s 2019 season certainly warrants that confidence; he completed one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of college football, throwing for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns while rushing for 369 yards and adding five more scores. He led LSU to its first ever College Football Playoff championship and its first national title since 2007, winning the Heisman Trophy en route.
It seems that was more than enough for the Bengals to think he can handle being thrown in the fire right away.