The Cincinnati Bengals were doing a lot of losing prior to selecting quarterback Andy Dalton in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. For that reason, it certainly makes sense why the organization signed Dalton to a six-year, $115 million contract extension.
It is true the Bengals won the AFC North in 2005 and 2009, but other than those two seasons, they had not put together a winning season since 1990. In fact, they hadn’t strung consecutive winning seasons together since the early 1980s. But with Dalton under center, Cincinnati has experienced nothing but winning as he has led the team to three straight playoff berths. Yes, all three saw an exit in the Wild Card round, but nonetheless, they were three consecutive seasons with an above-.500 record.
The early response to the signing is Dalton is way overpaid, mostly because he has never won in the playoffs. I agree that one touchdown and six interceptions in the postseason is not ideal. I mean, that is exactly why people are quick to point out that he is a choke artist when it matters most. Quarterbacks are paid to win. Even though Dalton has won plenty in the regular season, he still has a lot to prove in the postseason. The good news is he has the experience under his belt, which will allow him to break through the threshold sooner than people think.
The Bengals locked up Dalton to a long-term deal because he has led the team to successful seasons. However, it is not all about the wins and losses. The 26-year-old recorded 33 touchdowns last season, which ranked third in the NFL behind only Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. His 20 interceptions in 2013 were certainly embarrassing, but that can be fixed with the proper coaching and patience.
Cincinnati is focused on the potential that rests in Dalton. They believe he has what it takes to reach elite status. I understand that an average of $19 million per season may seem like a lot now, but there is a very good chance he will make good on his contract. He is a young, driven player with young talent around him. That is a recipe for great things to come.