Andy Dalton is Released. Let the Patriots Speculation Begin!

Source - Andy Dalton will only cost his next team money.

The Bengals released the veteran quarterback on Thursday morning, ESPN.com reported. It adds another layer of intrigue to the free-agency quarterback market, particularly as it pertains to the Patriots. New England has been oddly content with their quarterback situation — and a depth chart topped by second-year QB Jarrett Stidham — since Tom Brady left the franchise after two decades for a two-year, $50 million deal with the Buccaneers.

You'll have to forgive me for the shameless, blatant, pageviews-nip nature of this post, because it's not me putting he bait on the clicks on this one. It's everybody else. The Blue Checkmarks are circling the speculation that the Patriots will sign Andy Dalton like a wolfpack.

And it goes without saying that "Belichick Walking" is the No. 1 GIF on Twitter this morning.

To be fair, this has been talked about virtually the entire offseason. There's been a narrative out there that Belichick and Josh McDaniels were high on The Red Rocket as a safe, low-cost, low-risk replacement for Tom Brady long before Brady ever stomped on my heart announced he was leaving. There's been a lot of smoke for there not to be a fire, even if it was just floated out there as leverage in the ne-GOAT-tiations (See what I did there? Where was that when I could've used it?). And people are digging out Belichick's positive comments about Dalton before the Bengals game last year as proof he's secretly QB-crushed him for years, as if Belichick doesn't make every opposing quarterback sound like 1994 Steve Young. 

So while there might not be something there, I don't think there's nothing there, if that makes any sense. But I'm just not seeing this. I could be wrong, but nowhere do I get the sense that they're so dissatisfied with Jarrett Stidham's progress and worried about a future with a guy who was a college standout and has a full year in their system, that they'd rather go with a 32-year-old who's been occasionally good (four straight seasons of double-digit wins), but who's been on the decline (16 TDs, 14 INTs last year, a QB rating of 106.2 five seasons ago, down to 78.3 last year.) Even as a backup, I'm not sure they like Dalton better than Brian Hoyer, whom they trust enough to be the spare tire in the trunk that he's here now for a third tour of duty. 

The bottom line is that, if Dalton is willing to come to New England, it's going to be in that veteran presence/depth role, previously filled by such former starters as Vinny Testeverde and Doug Flutie. And I don't see them clearing cap space for that. Though stranger things have happened for sure, this is not going to. All hail our new king.