Thanks to quarterback Andy Dalton turning the ball over three times on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals are once again one and done in the playoffs for a third year in the row as they lost 27-10 at home to the San Diego Chargers. Now, with Dalton heading into the final year of his rookie contract in 2014, the Bengals really have a dilemma on their hands as it relates to the long-term status of the quarterback position.
Dalton has compiled a 30-18 regular season record during his first three seasons in the league, but his 0-3 record in the playoffs now speaks volumes. In those three playoff games, the TCU product has thrown just one touchdown to go along with six interceptions and a very costly fumble.
Had Dalton been able to get the playoff monkey off his back this season, he more than likely would have received a lucrative contract extension during the offseason. Now that he has failed at getting out of the first round of the playoffs for a third straight year, the Bengals might be best served to let him play out the final year of his deal just like the Baltimore Ravens did with Joe Flacco in 2012.
In order to protect themselves, the Bengals should also now consider drafting another young quarterback in the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. Doing so will at least give them a developmental alternative should they have to move on from Dalton in 2015. Should Dalton finally take the Bengals deep into the playoffs next season, the organization would then be forced to place the franchise tag on him while a long-term deal can be worked out.
Right now, Dalton is just good enough, but there comes a time when that good enough isn't good enough. That time is swiftly approaching for the Bengals.