While that wasn’t official until Thursday, when the Bengals cut Dalton, all of the signs were there. Dalton was benched midway through the season last fall, the team used most of its salary-cap space on new players this offseason after the start of the new league year and drafted reigning Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick last month — something that had been assumed for several months. Even Dalton said he knew that’s what the team was going to do.
With Dalton not being released until Thursday, however, the 32-year-old said he believes the Bengals hurt his chances of landing with a new team.
"This year there were a good amount of quarterbacks that were available," Dalton said about trade options for him on Friday, via the Bengals. "I think it would have worked out differently if I had been a free agent when the new league year started.
“I was still under contact and that hurt me.”
Dalton threw for nearly 3,500 yards and 16 touchdowns, though he had 14 interceptions and completed less than 60 percent of his passes in 13 games last season. The three-time Pro Bowler has been with the team since 2011, when he was selected with the No. 35 overall pick.
Dalton was benched just hours before the trade deadline last season in favor of Ryan Finley, who ended up lasting just three games before Dalton returned and led the team to its only two wins of the year.
He was subject to trade rumors with the Bears this offseason, too, though Chicago opted to make a move for Nick Foles instead. Now, Dalton’s options at finding another starting job are limited.
The fact that he was benched so late in the year, Dalton said, bothered him. Had the team admitted that they had wanted to move on from him earlier — both during the season and at the start of the league year — he would have at least had the chance to land elsewhere.
“I wish if [coach Zac Taylor] was thinking about it at least let me try to see if I could end up somewhere else or at least see if there’s interest in possibly getting traded,” Dalton said in October, via ESPN. “At that point, the way it was handled, there wasn’t enough time to even have that happen.”
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