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3 Cincinnati Bengals QB options in wake of Joe Burrow injury, including Carson Wentz

The Joe Burrow injury news provided the Cincinnati Bengals with little clarity at quarterback for Week 1. Burrow will miss multiple weeks, an indefinite timeline that rules him out for the preseason and jeopardizes his status for the regular-season opener. As a result, the Bengals will have to add a quarterback.

Cincinnati doesn’t have good alternatives if Burrow misses regular-season games. Jake Browning was a bad college quarterback for the majority of his time at Washington and Trevor Siemian hasn’t posted a QBR of 45-plus since 2016. At this point, the front office and coaching staff must prepare as if Burrow could miss time this season.

Related: NFL Top 100 players 2023

Keeping that in mind, here are three quarterback options for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Carson Wentz, free agent

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Washington Commanders
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While Carson Wentz isn’t one of the most well-liked players in the NFL, he’s proven he can be an adequate starter at times and would be one of the best backups in the NFL. In the last two seasons with the Washington Commanders and Indianapolis Colts, Wentz completed 62.4 percent of his passes with a 38-16 TD-INT ratio and an 89.6 quarterback rating in 25 games (11-13 record).

Wentz is more than capable of playing to the talent around him and he still shines in some areas. In 34 attempts last season, Wentz had an 88.5 passer rating and an 83.2 PFF grade on throws 20-plus yards downfield. In an offense with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, Wentz could consistently get them the football on time and allow Cincinnati to keep attacking downfield.

Andy Dalton, Carolina Panthers

NFL: Carolina Panthers Minicamp
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Just hours into training camp, the Carolina Panthers announced Bryce Young as their starting quarterback. While the move was always expected, it represented a quick benching for Andy Dalton and signaled the veteran quarterback likely won’t see the field this season. Because the Panthers have one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL, with multiple assistants who specialize in quarterbacks, Carolina doesn’t really need Dalton to stick around for veteran experience.

While a trade requires Cincinnati to give something up, Dalton is the most reliable quarterback it could pursue. In 2022 with the New Orleans Saints, Dalton completed a career-high 66.7 percent of his passes with an 18-9 TD-INT ratio and a 95.2 quarterback rating.

In terms of schematic fit, Dalton is also appealing. During the regular season, 67.3 percent of Burrow’s passes went between 0-19 yards past the line of scrimmage (22.1% medium passes, 45.2% short passes). Dalton had a 93.8 passer rating and 64.3 percent completion rate on medium passes and a 106.7 quarterback rating with an 8-2 TD-INT line on short passes last year with a far worse receiving corps than he would have in Cincinnati.

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Teddy Bridgewater, free agent

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
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If the Cincinnati Bengals want to sign Teddy Bridgewater, they’ll have to move quickly. The free-agent quarterback recently visited with the Detroit Lions and there is strong mutual interest between the two sides. Right now, though, the Bengals can offer a more appealing landing spot.

Bridgewater is certainly a limited passer. When he last saw significant playing time in 2021 with the Denver Broncos, 63.2 percent of Bridgewater’s pass attempts were thrown behind the first-down market. However, he was very proficient in throwing in the short areas – 107.8 QB rating on short throws, 11.7 QB rating on passes behind the line of scrimmage – which bodes well for an offense that relies on yards after the catch.

Cincinnati has more than enough talent on both sides of the wall to win games early in the regular season with a quarterback who protects the football. If there’s any chance of Joe Burrow missing time this fall, the Cincinnati Bengals need to add a reliable backup quarterback or they jeopardize their chances of winning the AFC North in 2023.

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