Cincinnati Bengals release quarterback Andy Dalton after nine seasons

Tyler Dragon
Cincinnati Enquirer
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When the Cincinnati Bengals concluded their exit meetings following the 2019 season, Andy Dalton cleaned out his locker and took the initiative to shake hands with every member of the media in the locker room. Dalton’s kind gesture was a concession that his career had come to a close in Cincinnati.

On Thursday it became a reality.

The Bengals released Dalton on Thursday, the quarterback the franchise drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. Cincinnati’s decision to move on from Dalton became likely the minute the team earned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, which they used on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

Sole responsibility certainly doesn’t rest on Dalton’s shoulders for the Bengals’ 2-14 record in 2019, which matched a franchise low. Yet he does deserve some culpability for a nightmarish season. With the No. 1 pick, the Bengals wanted a player who can change the trajectory of the franchise and invigorate the fan base. The 2019 Bengals had the lowest attendance since Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000.

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Dalton was benched for three games in his final season as a Bengal. He came back after Ryan Finley underwhelmed behind center. Dalton finished his ninth season passing for 3,494 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Dalton’s 16 touchdowns were the fewest of his career, and his 59.5 completion percentage was the quarterback’s lowest mark since his rookie year.

In totality, Dalton left much to be desired on the football field. He amassed a 70-61-2 record and never won a playoff game in four tries. Despite posting a goose egg in the postseason, Dalton was above average on the field in his career as a Bengal. He passed for 31,594 yards, tossed 204 touchdowns and had 118 interceptions, resulting in an 87.5 passer rating. That’s the best passer rating by a quarterback with at last 20 starts in Cincinnati, eclipsing Carson Palmer and, yes, Ken Anderson. He was invited to the Pro Bowl three times.

Perhaps his greatest impact came off the field, certainly the most important. Dalton and his wife JJ founded the Andy & JJ Dalton Foundation which provides support and resources to pediatric patients in various medical facilities throughout Cincinnati and its surrounding communities.

Dalton exits Cincinnati as the franchise leader in touchdown passes and completions. His swansong was a 33-23 win versus the Cleveland Browns in the Battle of Ohio.

“This city’s been great to us. A lot of support has been received in this city. This city has been our home since I got drafted here, and this city’s meant a lot,” Dalton said after his final game in Cincinnati speaking in behalf of his family. “I’m thankful for all the people that we’ve met. There’s been a lot of good people in Cincinnati who have pushed me, my wife and my family to be better people, and we’re grateful for that.”

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