CINCINNATI -- The Bengals won't be focusing on an extension for quarterback Andy Dalton anytime soon, and with three years left on his current deal, that shouldn't be a surprise.
Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn told reporters at the owners meetings this week that they don't feel it's the right time for an extension. Considering the huge deals handed out this spring, the Bengals got a steal with Dalton's contract.
Kirk Cousins signed a three-year deal with the Vikings for $84 million guaranteed, while Jimmy Garoppolo's five-year extension with the Niners will pay him an average of $27.5 million a year. Dalton's contract is modest in comparison. He got a $12 million signing bonus when he inked the six-year extension in 2014, and will receive just $13.9 million in salary and bonuses this year, with a $3 million escalator possible if he reaches certain incentives.
However, Blackburn doesn't quite see the deal as being a "steal" at the time it was signed.
“We didn’t sign the Andy Dalton deal because we thought it was a good deal. At the time it was an expensive deal. It was a heavy lift,” Blackburn told reporters. “We did it because Andy was a winning starting quarterback in the National Football League; he had demonstrated that. We know statistically your best chance of success is by rewarding your own players and maintaining that quality core. That is what drove that. We are certainly aware quarterback deals have evolved since then. We know that at the right time we will have to evolve as well. We don’t think this is the time right now. What we are going to focus on right now is building the best team for 2018 we possibly can." The Bengals could get out of Dalton's contract in 2019 with no dead money, so it would make sense for them to see how he performs this season before making a decision on an extension.
Dalton had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career in 2017, completing only 59.9 percent of his passes for 3,320 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was sacked 39 times, and the offense ranked last in the NFL.
It was clear the Bengals didn't place the blame for the ailing offense all on Dalton's shoulders. But with a new offensive coordinator and an increased effort to fix the offensive line, this will be an important season for him.