Andy Dalton is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which means at some point in the next 10 months or so, the Bengals will have to decide whether the 2011 second-round pick is the franchise's future.
Given that Colin Kaepernick, drafted one spot after Dalton, recently signed a six-year, $126 million extension, Dalton will likely be looking for a similar payday, something the Bengals may feel differently about. (We've talked previously about what both sides might expect in a new deal.)
But A.J. Green, Dalton's favorite target and one of the league's best wide receivers, thinks the fourth-year quarterback will get a new deal in the next few weeks.
"We came in together," Green said of Dalton (via Bengals.com), both of whom were drafted in '11. "That's my guy. He helped me where I am. I helped him and we took the Bengals to a different level. The Bengals were losing a lot before we came. I feel like we turned it around. I know they know he's the guy. ... I feel like they're going to get something done before the season starts.”
And Green dismisses the criticism that Dalton is a no-show in big games.
“A lot of people give him crap about not winning a playoff game, but we've made the playoffs the last three seasons,” Green said. “We've won 10 or more games (twice). Playoff games…we're still young. I feel like we're going to win them, it just takes time.”
Dalton also has friends in head coach Marvin Lewis and first-year offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Back in April, Lewis spoke glowingly of the quarterback.
"Andy's done a fine job for us," the coach said. "We all want to be better. Once he does that, all of that will go away. He's being compared with Drew Brees, he's being compared with [Aaron] Rodgers, guys who didn't get a chance to play right away. They sat and watched. We threw Andy in right away. He's done a really good job."
And around the same time, Jackson was even more laudatory.
"He's on the cusp of something really good," Jackson said. ... "The key to being a quarterback in the National Football League No. 1 is winning, and he has that trait. No. 2 is being able to win the big games. Obviously, that's the hump that we're trying to get over. The guy has the makeup to do it."
We'll know exactly how much the Bengals believe that based on Dalton's next contract.