Should the Jaguars Have Interest in Adding Andy Dalton to the Quarterback Room?
In an offseason of turbulent change at the quarterback position around the NFL, one veteran quarterback who has yet to find a new home is Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
Dalton has seen other teams cut ties with their own quarterbacks, whether through trades such as with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Nick Foles, releases like with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, and with teams simply letting contracts run out such as with Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But weeks after free agency began, Dalton is still left waiting, his place remaining on the Bengals' roster for now.
The Bengals, who hold the No. 1 overall pick in this month's draft and are widely expected to draft LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, have reportedly attempted to trade Dalton throughout the offseason, but the list of teams who have a need at quarterback has dwindled, leaving options scarce for the 10th-year veteran.
Since Jacksonville traded Foles to Chicago for a 2020 fourth-round selection, hypothetical trade scenarios have been floated to suggest the Jaguars could deal one of their 12 draft picks to the Bengals for Dalton, but this is misguided. The Jaguars are high on backup quarterback Josh Dobbs and second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II, and it is unlikely they would be willing to part with a pick for a veteran passer whose own team has given up on his time as a starter.
But what if Dalton is eventually released by the Bengals before the season begins? Could Dalton on the open market be appealing to the Jaguars? In many ways, this would make sense.
If Dalton is released at some point before the 2020 season begins, there are plenty of reasons for the Jaguars to be interested in adding him to the roster. For starters, the team's newest play-caller Jay Gruden has three years of experience with Dalton and knows his strengths, weaknesses, and fit in his offense as well as anyone.
Gruden coached Dalton for the first three seasons of his career while Gruden was the Bengals' offensive coordinator from 2011-2013. Gruden was tasked with preparing a rookie Dalton for a starting role in the NFL and then had the responsibility of developing Dalton's skill set in the following years.
Under Gruden's tutelage, Dalton helped the Bengals make three playoff appearances and compiled a 30-18 regular season record. During that stretch, Dalton completed 60.9% of his passes for 80 touchdowns and 11,360 yards, along with 40 interceptions, with Dalton recording 7.0 yards per attempt. Dalton's time with Gruden was productive and the relationship between the two played a large role in the Bengals' success for years moving forward.
Aside from Gruden's history with Dalton, the veteran quarterback makes sense for the Jaguars because the club currently has no quarterback on the roster whose experience comes even close to Dalton's. When the Jaguars traded Foles, they became owners of one of the most inexperienced and unproven quarterback rooms in the league.
Gardner Minshew II and Josh Dobbs, the only quarterbacks on the Jaguars' roster, have a total of four NFL seasons between them and have combined for a total of 19 game appearances and 12 starts, with most of those belonging to Minshew, who is entering his second season in 2020.
Compare this to Dalton, who has played and started in 133 games over nine years, and it is clear that Dalton would provide a veteran presence that no other passer on the Jaguars' roster currently possesses. He could take over as Minshew's backup and provide the Jaguars with more of a stable option behind the young signal-caller in case of injury or lack of development.
The Jaguars are high on Dobbs, but Dalton has unquestionably proven more in the NFL than the 2017 draft pick. While Dalton's days as a long-term starter are likely over, he is an ideal option for a backup passer thanks to his experience and fit in Gruden's offense.
The Jaguars should have zero interest in trading for Dalton; the Bengals have zero leverage in any deal for the quarterback and will almost assuredly be forced to release him instead. But in terms of signing him as a potential free agent, there aren't many arguments against a hypothetical Jaguars and Dalton partnership. He could provide veteran depth behind Minshew, while also giving the Jaguars an experienced option that Gruden has familiarity with just in case something goes awry with Minshew.
Dalton is unlikely to lead any team to double-digit wins as a starter as consistently as he once did, but he could still provide a lot of value to a team. Specifically, Dalton's value could be greatest in Jacksonville in a reunion with Gruden.