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.
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.
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