If this is the end of the line for him in Cincinnati, look for the only NFL team he's ever played for to part ways with him honorably.
Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on the latest RapSheet + Friends podcast the team has yet to make a decision on Dalton, who is still under contract for another year. But it sounds like Dalton will be the first to know if/when the Bengals commit to selecting a quarterback with the first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.
"I've talked to Andy individually and we're going to be in constant communication throughout the offseason," Tobin said. "We haven't made any decisions there and I wish I could give him a decision there -- it's you, it's somebody else, all those things are possibilities. I can tell you one thing, what Andy Dalton's done for the Cincinnati Bengals is not something that we're going to forget and we're not going to just willy-nilly, make something happen with him that, a) he's uncomfortable with and, b) that we're uncomfortable with."
The process could be expedited if Cincinnati finds a suitable trade partner before the draft. While Dalton would presumably want a chance to compete for a starting job, a new team would likely ask him to restructure a contract that nets him $17.5 million in base salary next season. The 32-year-old QB is coming off arguably his worst year, having completed just 59.5 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He was benched in favor of rookie Ryan Finley in October but reclaimed the starting job in December and led the Bengals to their only two wins of 2019.
Tobin, while expressing his gratitude for Dalton's contributions in Cincinnati, also extolled his virtues for other teams.
"He came in and won for us immediately, and he's certainly not done," Tobin said. "He's got a lot of talent, he's got a lot of leadership. ... We have the utmost respect and high regard for Andy Dalton and we don't believe by a long stretch that his career is over."
The nine-year veteran has made three Pro Bowls but his numbers have steadily dipped in several major categories since 2015, which is the last time the Bengals were in the playoffs. They've also yet to win in the postseason altogether with Dalton.
Cincinnati said goodbye to Marvin Lewis last year ultimately because of a lack of team success. Dalton, while appreciated by the front office, might be next.
"We'll go through the offseason and we'll be in communication with him and I'm going to be as upfront with him as we can," Tobin said. "When decisions start to get clarified and made, I'll be in contact with him. I want him to feel good about the outcome of this as well as us. I just can't talk more glowingly about Andy Dalton the player and Andy Dalton the man, and what he means to us and what he still means to us."