What are the advantages and disadvantages of the New England Patriots adding Andy Dalton at quarterback if Tom Brady leaves in free agency?
Listen, we won’t sugarcoat it at all: the idea of adding Andy Dalton to the New England Patriots via trade to replace Tom Brady is not a pleasant one to consider.
Truthfully, most scenarios in which Tom Brady isn’t on the Patriots’ roster aren’t exactly pleasant ones to consider either though. We all knew this day would come eventually, although few probably predicted it could come as soon as this very month.
There’s a growing chance that the G.O.A.T. signs with another team in NFL free agency, and if that happens, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots will need to have a plan for their starting signal-caller in 2020. That plan could be second-year man Jarrett Stidham, it could be drafting a quarterback in April, or it could be trying to find a veteran to bring on through free agency.
There’s also a fourth option: they could try and orchestrate a trade for a QB from another team’s roster. And while most of the other franchises in the NFL might be loathe to trade away a quarterback, there are a few notable exceptions here and there.
One such exception is the Cincinnati Bengals’ Andy Dalton.
Dalton is thought to be potentially extraneous come 2020 if you’re the Bengals. First Cincy drafted Ryan Finley last season in the fourth round. After first-year head coach Zac Taylor turned the reins over from Dalton to Finley briefly, he again made a switch at QB when it was clear to anyone with eyes that Finley wasn’t ready. So Dalton became the team’s starter once more, at least for the remainder of the Bengals’ 2-14 season.
With the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, however, it looks like Cincinnati is going to take LSU’s Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner and College Football Playoff champion. It’s a smart move for the Bengals, who will now hope Burrow can inject a jolt of life and competitive spirit into one of the NFL’s most disappointing franchises in recent memory.
Where does that leave Dalton though?
The 32-year-old wants to remain a starting quarterback in the league somewhere. While more prudent Bengals fans and NFL traditionalists may advocate letting Burrow sit for a year as a rookie and learn under Dalton, we all know that’s not going to happen. In today’s NFL, if you’re a QB and you’re drafted in the first round — let alone first overall — you immediately start Week 1 of the regular season.
Dalton has nine years of NFL experience under his belt, so he’s not exactly unproven at this point in his career. The problem for Dalton though is that he is proven — a proven mediocre QB.
He showed so much promise in his first four seasons in the league, leading the Bengals to the postseason each time, only to lose in the first round four straight times. Cincy also made the playoffs in his first season (2015), but Dalton was injured for that game.
The Bengals missed the playoffs, though, every season from 2016-2019. Along the way, critics were able to successfully call into question whether Dalton would ever be the one capable of leading Cincinnati to a postseason victory.
He’s an interesting figure in the league, no doubt.
On the plus side, he’s a three-time Pro Bowler who still has a rocket for an arm. When he’s good, he’s very good. He’s also very durable: in his nine seasons as a pro, he’s played all 16 games of the regular season six times. Last season he was healthy from wire-to-wire, too, but he was benched for Finley for three of those games.
On the minus side, he’s already on the wrong side of 30 (he’ll turn 33 before Halloween). He’s also had plenty of opportunities up to this point in his career to prove he belongs in the league, and he hasn’t really done enough to convince anyone he can be.
Overall, the Patriots should consider trading for Dalton if and only if they’ve exhausted all other options this spring between Brady, the free agent QBs, and the college QBs available in the draft. He should be treated as a last resort.