Dal­ton would be solid fit with post-brady Pa­tri­ots

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - DON BREN­NAN dbren­nan@postmedia.com

The move, not at all un­ex­pected, was of­fi­cially made late Thurs­day morn­ing.

The much-an­tic­i­pated re­ac­tion, we imag­ined see­ing by lunch. In­stead, the af­ter­noon passed, and noth­ing.

What’s tak­ing the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots so long to sign vet­eran quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton? They’re not as des­per­ate as they look, you say? How can that be?

They would surely be up­grad­ing at the most im­por­tant po­si­tion by sign­ing the 32-year-old Dal­ton, who was cast adrift by the Cincin­nati Ben­gals ex­actly one week af­ter they made Joe Bur­row the first pick of the

NFL draft. As it stands, New Eng­land’s top in-house can­di­dates to re­place Tom Brady re­main sec­ond-year pro Jar­rett Stid­ham, who has thrown four NFL passes, and vet­eran Brian Hoyer, who prob­a­bly shouldn’t throw an­other.

The Ben­gals saved them­selves US$17.7 mil­lion in cap space by cut­ting Dal­ton, and while the Pats have money is­sues of their own, Jameis Win­ston only cost the

New Or­leans Saints $1.1 mil­lion. At this point, Dal­ton wouldn’t be get­ting more than that.

“Andy will al­ways hold a spe­cial place with this fran­chise, and I know that he holds a spe­cial place in my heart,” team pres­i­dent Mike Brown said in a state­ment. “This is a hard day for our club be­cause we know and ap­pre­ci­ate what a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional Andy has al­ways been.”

Al­most a decade af­ter he was drafted 35th over­all and started all 16 games as rookie — com­pil­ing a 9-7 mark with 20 touch­down passes and 13 in­ter­cep­tions — the “Red Ri­fle” is com­ing off his worst sea­son. He won just two of his 13 starts while throw­ing a ca­reer-low 16 touch­downs.

Of course, the bad Ben­gals were with­out A.J. Green. Their su­per­star re­ceiver in­jured an an­kle dur­ing a prac­tice in July that re­quired “mi­nor surgery.” It ul­ti­mately ended his sea­son.

Tak­ing him away from Dal­ton was like hav­ing your run­ning back play with just one shoe.

Over the last few days, when they were try­ing to trade Dal­ton, the Ben­gals might have pointed out that he had a ca­reer 70-61-2 record and led the Ben­gals to the play­offs in five straight years. But the Ben­gals did not win a play­off game in his ten­ure and his last post-sea­son ap­pear­ance was in 2014, a 26-10 loss to the In­di­anapo­lis Colts which saw Dal­ton com­plete just 18 of 35 passes for 155 yards.

So, yeah, part­ing with an as­set or two to make Dal­ton your starter doesn’t make a lot of sense when he wasn’t even good enough to hold that job through the 2019 sea­son with the worst team in foot­ball. But to scoop him up at no cost off the free agent pile, to serve as a backup or a men­tor to a young QB, should be a no-brainer.

A few teams are be­ing men­tioned as pos­si­ble land­ing spots for Dal­ton, with the Jack­sonville Jaguars top­ping the list. Their of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor, Jay Gru­den, had suc­cess with him in Cincy. Then there’s the New York Jets, who strug­gled might­ily when young Sam Darnold missed three games. Also men­tioned is the Den­ver Bron­cos, who last month signed Jeff Driskel (1-7 for his ca­reer) to back up Drew Lock.

Pitts­burgh, Seat­tle, Ari­zona and the Los An­ge­les Rams all could use a cheap and ex­pe­ri­enced No. 2. But no­body needs Dal­ton more than the Pa­tri­ots. This sea­son doesn’t have to be a write­off for them. They still have a very strong de­fence and a cou­ple of good pieces on of­fence.

Dal­ton could be their starter. EX­TRA POINTS: As ex­pected, the Chiefs picked up the fifth-year op­tion on Pa­trick Ma­homes, ex­tend­ing his con­tract through 2021. Any day they could an­nounce they have signed their su­per­star QB to a deal that will keep him in Kansas City for life. … Red­skins coach Ron Rivera was asked on Good Morn­ing Foot­ball if he had any in­ter­est in a re­union with Cam Newton, his QB for nine sea­sons in Carolina. “I have thought about it,” said Rivera, not­ing he has two young quar­ter­backs in Dwayne Hask­ins and Kyle Allen. “It’s about the sit­u­a­tion and cir­cum­stances. I’m not sure if I would do it, I’m not sure if I wouldn’t do it.” What a nice way to say no chance … The Bears haven’t de­cided if they’ll pick up the fifth-year op­tion on QB Mitch Tru­bisky. The dead­line is Mon­day at mid­night … Chicago did sign vet­eran WR Ted Ginn

Jr. to a one-year deal Thurs­day. At 35, he can still get down the field in a hurry … The Bears also signed S Tashaun Gip­son, for­merly of the Tex­ans. … The Dol­phins have cut DL Taco Charl­ton, a first-round pick of the Cow­boys (28th over­all) in 2017 claimed off waivers last sea­son. … A re­port in The New York Post says the NFL will con­sider play­ing Satur­day games if the col­lege sea­son is can­celled due to COVID-19 …

Rob Gronkowski main­tains he was only “jok­ing” when he said he had the Tampa Bay play­book four weeks be­fore they ac­quired him. “I ac­tu­ally just re­ceived my team-is­sued Sur­face to­day from the Bucs and it’s still in the pack­age,” he tweeted. “... Gronk run Gronk catch ball. No play­book needed. Hehe.”

BOBBY EL­LIS/GETTY IMAGES FILES

Quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton went 70-61-2 with the Cincin­nati Ben­gals but the “Red Ri­fle” was let go by the team on Thurs­day com­ing off his worst sea­son.

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