ESPN errantly reported early Monday morning that the Cincinnati Bengals had decided to extend quarterback Andy Dalton with a six-year contract worth $115 million total. The real numbers have since been released, and it’s much closer to about $96 million.
…but it’s not really $96 million, either, because, as we know, NFL contracts are pretty much complete bullshit. The guaranteed number is the one that really matters, and apparently the Bengals are giving Dalton only $17 million guaranteed. He gets a roster bonus of $5 million, and then another $4 million bonus next March, per Pro Football Talk. In order to get anywhere near that $96 million figure, you’d imagine Dalton will have to meet all sorts of personal milestones. Super Bowls appearances, etc. At its core, it’s a two-year deal worth $25 million in total, and then it’s basically year-to-year beyond that.
If you look at the deal based on the initial reported value, the Bengals look completely insane. $115 million for a guy that may not even be one of the 15 best players at his position in the league? Great Odin’s Raven!
But this really isn’t much of a gamble on Cincinnati’s part. Dalton has shown flashes of brilliance at times, and he has been at the helm of a playoff team in each of his three pro seasons. But then he’ll inevitably throw a killer pick, fumble the ball at an inopportune time, and the so on. However, this is obviously true for every other quarterback, too. Dalton isn’t elite like Peyton Manning, but he also isn’t uber spare Ryan Lindley. He has a place as a starter in the league.
The Bengals aren’t tying the future of their franchise to Dalton with this contract. It’s not nearly as poisonous as the Tony Romo deal is for Dallas. If they decide to cut him in two years, they’re really no worse for the wear. In all likelihood, they’ll have middled around the AFC North for a few years with a few playoff appearances that wind up going nowhere meaningful. Ah, Bengals.
There’s also no reason to believe Dalton can’t improve, either. Players improve all the time, ya know. He did finish third in the league with 33 touchdown passes last year, as well as seventh in yardage. On the flip side, he threw the fifth-most interceptions, with 20, and ranked 15th in both completion percentage and QB rating, for what it’s worth.
Given the absurd going rate of passers in the NFL currently, this really isn’t a big deal at all. So shut up, everyone.