So the news broke earlier that the Bengals have blinked and Andy Dalton has got a bumper new NFL contract with the Bengals.
Theoretically, this new contract should secure Dalton's long future at the Bengals. In reality it does nothing of the sort.
Ignore the headline figure
As always in these cases, it was the headline figure that grabs the media attention. In Dalton's case the figure was $115 million over six years or a possible $96 million over six years with performance bonuses that could take it up to $115 million. The trumpeting of this headline figure was designed to show that the Bengals have faith in Andy Dalton.
That they believe he is the guy who can lead the team deep into the playoffs and potentially to lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
A closer examination of the figures however, reveals this deal is essentially the QB equivalent of a one-year prove-it contract that talented but risky free agents tend to get - and both parties know it.
Dalton's deal gives him a $12 million signing bonus and a $5 million roster bonus for $17 million in guaranteed money. Or in other words less than 15% of the headline $115 million figure that was being quoted. Plus, as has been pointed out, that $17 million in guaranteed money is more than the 49ers Colin Kaepernick got in his recent new contract and that is kind of crazy.
Poor Playoff Record
You see, like it or not Tony Romo fans, NFL quarterbacks are judged on playoff wins and Championship rings. For all Andy Dalton's success in the regular season his post-season record and his record against strong defenses is abysmal.
In comparison, Kaepernick tends to save his best performances for the playoffs. Kaepernick's playoff record is 4-2 with the two losses coming in the Superbowl and the NFC Championship game. Dalton, by contrast, has made three trips to the playoffs and lost three times. In those three playoff defeats Dalton has thrown one touchdown pass and six interceptions. His quarterback rating in playoffs is 56.2.
Why pay Dalton at all?
Why then did the Bengal's give Dalton this deal? Why did they agree to give Dalton more guaranteed money than Kaepernick?
The answer is that they gave Dalton and his agent what they wanted in guaranteed money in order to get what they wanted in the rest of the contract. Namely the ability to cut Dalton at no extra cost if he doesn't develop into a QB that can win playoff games.
After the initial guaranteed $17 million, Dalton's contract guarantees him a $4 million March roster bonus with a further $3 million in non-guaranteed base salary for 2015. This brings Dalton's deal up to $25 million over two years.
Beyond 2015 though Dalton's contract offers no guaranteed money. If Dalton develops into a playoff winning QB then the Bengal's have got a bargain. If he doesn't then there is nothing to stop the Bengals getting rid of him if they decide he is incapable of winning playoff games.
Since Dalton hasn't shown anything to suggest he can do this, the chances are he won't get anywhere near the end of this six year contract and will likely no longer be a Bengal after 2015.
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