The Cincinnati Bengals are prepared to move the franchise in a new direction during the 2020 season that will most likely be spearheaded by the end of the Andy Dalton era. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Bengals are going to work with Dalton to facilitate a trade “when the time is right.” The Bengals think highly of Dalton and are willing to help him choose his next destination. It’s a foregone conclusion that Dalton will be suiting up for a new franchise in 2020.

Dalton, a second-round pick of the Bengals in 2011, has been the starting quarterback in Cincinnati for nine years. Dalton has compiled a 70-61-2 record with the Bengals, making three Pro Bowl appearances and throwing for 31,594 yards, 204 touchdowns and 118 interceptions for an 87.5 passer rating. Playing with one of the worst rosters in the NFL in 2019, Dalton completed just 59.5 percent of his passes (his lowest since his rookie year) for 3,494 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for a 78.3 passer rating (a career-low). Dalton was benched after eight games in favor of Ryan Finley, signaling the beginning of the end of his tenure with the Bengals. However, when Finely faltered, Dalton returned for the final five games of the year, throwing seven touchdowns to six interceptions. 

Dalton has one year remaining on his current contract and he is owed $17.7 million for the 2020 season. The Bengals can cut Dalton and not suffer a cap penalty as the guaranteed money on his six-year, $96 million deal has already been paid against the cap. If Dalton is traded, he can work out a new contract with his new team or the team could take a wait-and-see approach. 

Trading Dalton could also signal the Bengals are ready to move forward with using the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on a quarterback. As of the time of this publication, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to be the No. 1 pick.

“He definitely checks off a lot of boxes early on in the evaluation process,” Bengals quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said, according to the Bengals’ official website. “He obviously looks like a very intriguing guy.”

The Bengals reportedly have no interest in trading the No. 1 overall pick. This may be another sign the franchise is leaning toward drafting Burrow. Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has even admitted the team’s playbook will be easy to learn for Burrow. 

“We’ve got a lot of similarities with their pass game. A lot of NFL offenses do,” Callahan said. “He ran a lot of elements of what they did in New Orleans. Getting guys in space. Getting people in matchups. You see a lot of pro passing concepts in their offense and they did a really good job. But they are things that you see around the league. It’s all things that fit very well with what we do and a lot of people do.”

Trading Dalton will end an era in Bengals history and the beginning of a new one with the top pick.