Seems like every time I'm called to do interviews on Cincinnati radio, the major talking point is Andy Dalton and what kind of contract he can expect to receive.
Clearly, Dalton -- who's taken the Bengals to the playoffs for three straight seasons, an unprecedented feat in franchise history, but who also hasn't delivered a win in those postseasons -- would like to make as much money as possible. Probably somewhere, let's say, in the $20 million per year range (even though that probably sounds ridiculous).
And clearly, the Bengals want to pay millions less. Probably somewhere, I imagine, in the $14 million per year range.
All of this might explain why neither side seems to be making much progress on a new deal as Dalton enters the final year of his contract. But in an interview with Sports Illustrated, did coach Marvin Lewis imply that Andy Dalton wanted a similar deal to the one earned by Jay Cutler when the Bears signed him to a seven-year, $126.7 million deal last January that averages $18.1 million per season?
"I'm hopeful, you know?" Lewis told reporter Don Banks. "I know he would like to get it done and I know we'd like to get it done, and just hopefully we can get by that deal with my man, Cutler in Chicago and we can all get something everybody likes.''
To be fair, there's not a time that I can recall when Lewis didn't throw all of his support behind Dalton, and even though the team signed veteran Jason Campbell in the offseason before drafting A.J. McCarron in the fifth round, Lewis still says he has all the confidence in Dalton.
"From the time he's stepped back into Cincinnati this offseason, he's had these guys rally back around him," Lewis said. "... Everybody wants to blame our quarterback for everything, but in that game against San Diego [in the 2013 postseason] it was both offense and defense. We didn't stop them on third down and get off the field, our great little running back [Giovani Bernard] fumbled the football [at the 5-yard line], and we didn't make any plays on special teams or turn the ball over on defense. It's easy to point at one guy, but baloney, the football team didn't play as well as we needed to win.''
At $18 million, you'd have to think that was too much money for Bengals owner Mike Brown.
"We are going to try to get something done, but I don't know if we are going to be able to or not," Brown said in March. "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."
"The player market is something that always is surprising," Brown continued. "Why the prices are so high is hard to know for sure. You look backwards and there have been more bad deals then good deals from a club's perspective. That doesn't mean there haven't been some good deals -- there have. More often than not you don't win overpaying a guy."
And suffice to say, Brown likely would include the Cutler deal in the category of: bad deal. Or, at the very least, a deal that's been annoying him in these latest negotiations.