NFL Rumors: Could A.J. McCarron Unseat Andy Dalton With The Bengals?

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Dalton has been a terrific regular-season quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. In the playoffs, not so much.

As Dalton enters a contract season, it could be make or break his future with the team, as the Bengals drafted two-time national championship-winning quarterback A.J. McCarron out of Alabama in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.

In an appearance on the “Around The League” podcast, NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks said he could see McCarron take over for Dalton as soon as this coming season.

“If they (the Bengals) can create enough of a punch in the run to draw that extra safety in the box to make it easier for Andy Dalton to throw outside,” Brooks said. “But Andy Dalton has to grow up. …I’m not all in on Andy Dalton being a franchise quarterback that can get them to the next level.

“I think they’ll do everything in their power to put him a situation where he can’t fail. But I can see them real soon playing another quarterback in Cincinnati.”

Of course, Jason Campbell is the other quarterback listed behind Dalton right now, but Brooks was specifically referring to the rookie, McCarron.

Not only have Dalton’s post-season struggles been very well documented in Cincy, but he could be on the lookout for a deal comparable to the one Joe Flacco received after he led the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl.

Brooks doesn’t believe Dalton is worth an $18 or $19 million-per-year contract, and could see the Bengals giving McCarron a shot under center.

“For A.J. McCarron is or isn’t, the offense that he’s stepping into in Cincinnati is very similar to what he did in Alabama where all he has to do is be a game-manager, care-taker. If, for whatever reason Andy Dalton is hurt or can’t get it done, A.J. McCarron can step in there and not only play, but play very, very well.

“He was drafted for a reason. It wasn’t just a throwaway pick. There was something behind taking A.J. McCarron. Regardless of whether he has all the talent or tools you look for to be a franchise quarterback, he has won a lot of games. Knowing to lead teams to the winning circle — there’s something to be said for that. If he goes in and shows people in OTAs, mini-camps and more importantly in the preseason that he can handle the responsibility of being a quarterback, he could have a legitimate chance. Ultimately, you play the players that have earned the right to play on the field. If he earns the right in the preseason, he could be the guy.”

In three seasons quarterbacking the Bengals, Dalton has started 16 games each season and led the team to a 30-18 mark. He has a career 60.9 completion percentage, with 80 touchdowns compared to 49 interceptions. This past season, he threw a career-high 33 touchdown passes and a career-high 20 picks.

However, Dalton has never gotten the Bengals beyond the first round of the playoffs. In three career playoff games, Dalton has one touchdowns and six interceptions, a 56.91 completion rate and an 0-3 record.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.
1 comments
MikeSTownsend
MikeSTownsend

I don't see Dalton being unseated in 2014 barring injury or a complete meltdown performance, but mediocre play is going to result in him having zero bargaining leverage during 2015 contract negotiations.  If he wants Flacco level money, he's not going to get it without winning several games in the post season.  That's what Flacco did.  He won the SB and said 'pay up'.  It's easy to predict that if he doesn't get the Bengals into the post-season, Mike Brown won't pay Dalton what he wants, and AJ McCarron steps right up to the plate.