Contract-talk stalemate not Dalton's plan

CINCINNATI -- Andy Dalton's patience has been tested often this offseason.

Still, he has no qualms about continuing to practice it.

With his contract negotiations currently in limbo, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback said Tuesday that he remained hopeful that an extension to his rookie deal would soon come, all while there appears to be evidence to the contrary. Contract talks between Dalton's representatives and the Bengals haven't progressed much since Dalton last discussed them five weeks ago.

Asked if he felt it was time to start thinking about stopping the discussions to focus on simply playing football and devoting more attention to other life activities, Dalton said no.

"We haven't gotten to that point yet," he said. "Both sides are still talking. We're both hopeful that we'll get something done."

The Bengals are trying to retain their 2011 second-round draft pick in a way that wouldn't put too much of a strain on their salary cap the next few years. Dalton, naturally, wants as much money as he can take. He thinks he has made a good case for generating the $18 million to $20 million that some of his peers are making each year. Through his first three seasons, Dalton has won 30 games. He's reached the playoffs three straight years. In 2013, he set a pair of single-season franchise records.

Despite that success, he still hasn't won a playoff game and has come under fire for his decision-making. He has a tendency to force passes into coverage, resulting in interceptions. During Cincinnati's 27-10 loss to San Diego in the opening round of January's AFC playoffs, he had a hand in three second-half turnovers. He fumbled once and threw two interceptions.

It also didn't help Dalton's cause when Cincinnati drafted former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron in the fifth round earlier this month. McCarron has been expected to eventually contend for the starting job. It's worth noting that McCarron began the Bengals' OTAs Tuesday as the last-string quarterback. He mostly was working with other offensive backups who were mostly comprised of undrafted free agents.

For those reasons, the Bengals -- among others -- have a hard time believing Dalton is worthy of the near-$20 million in annual cap space that some quarterbacks have reeled in on recent contracts.

It could take days, weeks or months at this point, but Dalton remains committed to seeing resolution to his contract status. He's not trying to reach a stalemate in talks, although it's entirely possible one could come. It is possible a time could come late in the offseason when he and Bengals coaches will want him to forget all the money talk and focus instead on pouring even more attention into playing.

July could be a pivotal month for such decisions to be made. He and his wife anticipate the birth of their first child around Independence Day. Later in the month, on July 24, the Bengals begin training camp. While defensive tackle Geno Atkins went into training camp with a possible contract extension looming last year, coach Marvin Lewis has made it quite plain that he'd like his starting quarterback to have a deal wrapped up long before camp opens. If that doesn't happen, Dalton could decide to play out the year, perform well and then receive an even bigger financial windfall next offseason. That's the way Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan's latest deals ended up working out.

As of last offseason, both are getting paid just more than $20 million a year.