Given the myriad rumors suggesting that Tom Brady might be done with the New England Patriots after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl victories with the team, there has also been a lot of talk regarding his potential replacement at quarterback. According to a recent report, Cincinnati Bengals signal-caller Andy Dalton could be an option for the Patriots if Brady decides to sign elsewhere as a free agent or hang up his cleats after a Hall of Fame-worthy career.
In a report that ranked Dalton’s most likely destinations if the Bengals trade him, CBS Sports ranked the Patriots at third, placing them behind the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As explained by the publication, Brady’s possible departure from New England might not come as a surprise anymore, and with the team hoping to avoid making the same mistakes after tight end Rob Gronkowski’s surprise retirement last year, Patriots officials could start reloading early by acquiring Dalton as a replacement for their longtime starting quarterback.
While there may be flashier options available in free agency, including Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) and Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), CBS Sports wrote that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will likely stay away from them, given how he may prefer someone who can take good care of the ball, rather than a strong-armed, yet turnover-prone “gunslinger” like the aforementioned alternatives.
All in all, the outlet believes that the 32-year-old Dalton makes more sense than other, more “intriguing” choices behind center because New England has generally performed well in the few games Brady missed over the years, and may simply need a steady hand at quarterback who won’t make too many mistakes.
From NFL Now: The #Bengals are willing to work with QB Andy Dalton on a trade, I'm told, a plan that has been communicated to him. This meshes with what exec Duke Tobin told me a few weeks ago that when decisions happen, "I'll be in contact with him." (https://t.co/rrfjo3eYy9) pic.twitter.com/WPr3gb65rV— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 12, 2020
“Dalton isn’t going to be able to carry an offense, but he can be a solid game manager, and since the Patriots have such a strong defense, a solid game manager might be all they need to compete for a Super Bowl in 2020,” CBS Sports‘ John Breech concluded.
Despite a disappointing season where he played for a 2-14 team and threw 16 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions for a mediocre QB rating of 78.3, Dalton has had a solid run with the Bengals since being picked in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Per Pro Football Reference, the former Texas Christian University star has career statistics that include 204 touchdown passes, 118 interceptions, 31,594 passing yards, and an 87.5 QB rating.
Regardless of whether Dalton ends up replacing Brady on the Patriots, remaining in Cincinnati, or getting traded to another team, CBS Sports stressed that his contract makes him “pretty easy to deal” in the 2020 offseason. Currently, he has only one year remaining on his contract, with a salary cap hit of just $17.7 million — a “bargain” compared to most other starting quarterbacks.