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Andy Dalton could have played his final game with the Bengals

Vincent Frank
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Despite earning three Pro Bowl appearances and showing flashes of brilliance during his eight seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, quarterback Andy Dalton has not necessarily lived up to expectations.

A lot the narrative surrounding Dalton is his lack of playoff success. The former second-round pick is 0-4 in the postseason and has thrown one touchdown compared to six interceptions during that span.

Now that Dalton has been placed on injured reserve with a thumb injury, his 2018 season is over. This also means that Dalton might have played his final snap with the Bengals.

Dalton, 31, signed a six-year, $96 million extension with the Bengals in August of 2014. This came on the heels of a 2013 campaign in which he put up a career-best 33 touchdowns en route to leading Cincinnati to an 11-5 record.

The quarterback has not been able to duplicate that success in recent seasons, having posted a combined 18-24-1 record since the start of the 2016 campaign.

The remainder of Dalton’s contract is not guaranteed. That includes a base of $16 million in 2019 and $17.5 million in 2020. Cincinnati can get out from under it without a dead cap hit.

Given his previous success and the need for reliable quarterbacks in the NFL, there’s also a chance that Dalton could in fact be traded when March comes calling. Either way, this could be the end of the line for Dalton in Cincinnati.

A lot of this will depend on whether head coach Marvin Lewis returns for another season in Cincinnati. He’s been tied at the hip with Dalton, both proving themselves to be disappointments over the past several seasons.

As adverse to change as any team in the NFL, we have absolutely no idea what the Bengals’ brass is going to do. Following Sunday’s blowout loss to the Cleveland Browns, that’s magnified even further.

The time is clearly now for Cincinnati to think about its future. Given Dalton’s inability to lead this team to contention since the start of the 2016 season, that could very well include moving on from a player that was once seen as the face of the franchise.

If so, Dalton will clearly become one of the most-coveted quarterbacks on the market when March comes calling. For now, he’ll play out the string in Cincinnati riding the pine.