Andy Dalton trade market: Five teams that should pursue vet QB

The Cincinnati Bengals are likely to draft Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, which spells doom for the current best quarterback on their roster, Ryan Finley. I kid. We’re talking about Andy Dalton. Who is still under contract for one more season, but expected to be traded in the coming weeks. And even with a deep free-agent quarterback pool that is set to include legends like Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Marcus Mariota, Dalton, to me, is one of the best signal-callers available. And his cap number for 2020, $17.7 million, is definitely reasonable for a longtime starting quarterback in today’s NFL.

With that in mind, I present to you the top five teams that should be exploring a trade for Dalton.

1) Los Angeles Chargers

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The Chargers are squarely looking toward the future, allowing Rivers to walk this offseason after nearly two decades with the organization. So it might seem counterintuitive to make a deal for a 32-year-old quarterback some might consider a journeyman. (Not me. But some.) And you add in the fact that the team already has Tyrod Taylor, a veteran quarterback who’s been championed by Tony Lynn this offseason. "Tyrod Taylor is a heck of a quarterback," the Bolts coach said on AM 570 LA Sports last month. "We couldn’t have a better backup right now, and now he has an opportunity to maybe step up into a starting role." I’m not so sure about that. The Chargers were competitive last year and would have been a 12-win team if their scores had been reversed in one-score games. Dalton gives them credibility and is a more proven QB than Taylor. The team could also use its first-round pick on a quarterback like Jordan Love, a raw talent some have described as a poor man’s version of Patrick Mahomes. And similar to the way the Chiefs brought along Mahomes, Dalton could be the Alex Smith in this scenario — a bridge to Love taking over the starting duties in 2021.

2) Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have an incumbent starter, Jacoby Brissett, who received a vote of confidence from owner Jim Irsay a few weeks back. But Brissett really struggled down the stretch. Granted, the struggles came after a Week 9 MCL strain. Add in the fact that the Colts’ receiving corps also took a huge hit injury wise, and Brissett went from hipster MVP candidate to somebody who looked like a career backup. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but it would make sense to go get a guy like Dalton and, like the Chargers, draft a young quarterback to develop behind him. Love could be a possibility if Los Angeles goes with Justin Herbert. And if I’m being honest (not that I wasn’t previously), the Colts have a really good shot at the AFC this year if they can land a solid quarterback and then use some of that cap space (a whopping $86.2 million, per Over The Cap) on a player like Derrick Henry. Think about the bruising back behind that line. And with depth at the WR position in the draft, Indy could also address a need there, too.

3) New England Patriots

I know that, for some, swapping out Brady for Dalton would be like taking in "Rise of Skywalker" after watching "The Empire Strikes Back." But I’m one of those guys who likes to explain how "Rise of Skywalker" really wasn’t that bad. In fact, if you’d just give it a chance with an open mind, maybe you could realize how good it actually was. It’s the same thing with Dalton. He got the Bengals to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons — which, for a team like Cincy, is kind of similar to winning the Super Bowl. Seriously, that could be an SAT analogy question. Patriots: Lombardi Trophy. Bengals : ________. The correct answer would be "playoff berth." And if not for the epic meltdown against the Steelers on Wild Card Weekend back in the 2015 playoffs, Dalton would have at least one postseason win. But I’m getting off the point here. New England’s Super Bowl window remains open, no matter who the quarterback is. Bill Belichick’s defense was great last year. The biggest issue for the 2019 Patriots was the deterioration of the running game, spurred by the injury to fullback James Develin. And also the loss of Rob Gronkowski. But if the Patriots could get back to running the football like they did in 2018, Dalton would end up being a very good quarterback to guide this team. Also as a bonus, can you imagine Belichick’s swagger if he won a title with Dalton? And an additional bonus: How great would those "On to Cincinnati’s Quarterback" memes be?

4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s almost too easy to say: Bruce Arians has enjoyed great success with one former Bengals quarterback, why not another? So I’m not going to say that. But Dalton makes a lot of sense. The Buccaneers might have the best receiving tandem in the NFL. Bring in Dalton, and you could be looking at something special. Dalton doesn’t throw an insane amount of interceptions. And oftentimes, post-breakup, you are looking for something that is completely different from the person you were with before. Dalton’s two best seasons were in 2015 and ’16, when he threw a total of 15 picks. That is half of Jameis Winston’s total in 2019 alone.

5) Chicago Bears

You can indeed be a supporter of Mitch Trubisky while at the same time believing the team needs to bring in a veteran QB. Somebody who could go out there and win a few games in a pinch if need be. Mitch has missed three starts over the last two years, but that one miss against the Giants was pretty significant in 2018. The Bears win that game, they have the No. 2 seed and they go to the Super Bowl. And Mitch is at least at Jimmy Garoppolo level. (Well, people stupidly feel the 49ers should sign Tom Brady now, so maybe that’s a bad example.) If the Bengals are willing to take a Day 3 pick for Dalton, I’m fine with it. Though, at this point, I’d just rather have Nick Foles and a second-round pick for a Day 3 selection. And then use that pick on Jalen Hurts. Yes. That would do.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

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