Today, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the Cincinnati Bengals are willing to work with longtime starter Andy Dalton on a potential trade this offseason. Dalton has one year remaining on his contract.
It is expected that the Bengals will take a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, most likely LSU's Joe Burrow. That leaves Dalton, a free agent after next season, out of a job. Presumably Cincinnati would go with second-year pro Ryan Finley as its backup in 2020.
At this juncture of his career, the 32-year-old Dalton is an average quarterback, but there still should be a trade market for him. Teams in quarterback limbo or looking for a solid bridge option might be tempted to pull the trigger on a deal.
We looked at three teams that would seem like potential fits for Dalton. All three are very different situations and could be intrigued by Dalton for different reasons. There are probably other teams not on this list that might be interested, but for now we'll focus on these three.
Here we go:
New England Patriots
Without question, this would be the "bombshell" option if it happened. Tom Brady is a free agent and the Patriots are reportedly willing to pay up to retain their franchise legend. The 42-year-old Brady, whose play dipped in 2019, wants to see New England commit to bringing in more offensive weapons before he re-signs. Whispers also remain that when all is said and done, Brady will still wind up signing elsewhere, possibly with a West Coast team.
Bill Belichick has long been rumored to want to try his hand in New England with a quarterback who isn't Brady. A veteran like Dalton could fit the bill since there is no young quarterback on the Patriots' roster to take over the reins.
There's more smoke around the Bears and Dalton lately, at least from the media. Chicago has to be near its wits end with Mitchell Trubisky heading into his fourth season. The Bears are in win-now mode, and perhaps they feel like Dalton is a better option to lead the offense than the up-and-down 2017 No. 2 overall pick.
Additionally, Chicago's new offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, served as Dalton's quarterbacks coach in Cincinnati in 2016 and his offensive coordinator in 2017-18. There's a natural fit there if the Bears were to bring the veteran into the fold.
Los Angeles Chargers
Lastly, let's take a look at the Chargers. They are moving on from Philip Rivers and now automatically appear to be in the market to draft one of the top quarterbacks in this year's crop come April. However, considering LA's roster is built to compete right now, signing or trading for a veteran makes sense.
If the Chargers can't or don't want to lure Brady, Dalton could emerge as an option. At the very least, he would be insurance for the team should they draft Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa and choose to throw them into the fire right away in 2020.