Is this the face of the Cincinnati franchise? (USATSI)
Though Dalton has led Cincinnati to an unprecedented three-straight playoff seasons, he also has failed in each attempt to lead his team past the first round of the postseason, and he's come under criticism, including some by me, that concludes that perhaps Dalton shouldn't be the quarterback of Cincinnati's future.
But reporters asked him Monday if he thought he was the face of the organization, and Dalton apparently has no doubt. All he has to do is ask coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
“Everything that Marvin has said, Hue has said and everybody here has told me that and has told everybody that," Dalton said, via the team's official website. "I'm confident of that. I hope to spend a lot of my career here.”
In order to do that, though, he and the Bengals will have to come to an agreement on a long-term contract at some point. It sounds like it might not happen for a while.
"We are going to try to get something done, but I don't know if we are going to be able to or not," Bengals owner Mike Brown said last month. "At some point we are going to have to do something more than just let everyone else leave waiting to get something done with that situation. We held back this year trying to put ourselves in a position to get him done. If it turns out it can't be made to work we will do something elsewhere. I don't think we plan to go another year the way we did this year."
Remember also that the team will have to sign long-term deals eventually with receiver A.J. Green and linebacker Vontaze Burfict, both of whom also could be in the running for the so-called face of the franchise.
Of course, if Dalton doesn't sign a deal before the season, he'll go into the final year of his contract like Joe Flacco a few years ago, hoping to prove he's the ultimate winner in order to land himself a huge new deal.
"There's obviously some risk when that goes on, but I am confident in everything that I have been able to do and what I am going to do this year," Dalton said. "If it comes to that, then it comes to that but I think both sides want to get it done. So, hopefully it happens."
Of course, the team could also get itself some insurance by drafting a quarterback. Already, they've signed a veteran backup in Jason Campbell, and perhaps Dalton would be motivated even more by another quarterback on the roster who's gunning for his job. Or maybe that's not going to happen at all.
“From everything they've told me," Dalton said, "they're not bringing in anybody to compete."