Quarterback Andy Dalton expects to be playing in Cincinnati for the foreseeable future, never mind that he's entering the final year of his rookie deal.
"I'm confident," Dalton told NFL.com's Albert Breer. "And both sides are working on it. We haven't given a deadline, we haven't talked about a deadline. We don't expect it to get to that point, but if it does, it does."
Dalton's remarks echo those of teammate and wide receiver A.J. Green, who thinks the quarterback will not only get a new contract, but that it will be taken care of before the start of the season.
"That's my guy," Green said of Dalton earlier this month. "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.”
One of the knocks against Dalton, who has helped the Bengals to three straight playoff appearances is that he doesn't show up for the biggest games, a notion Green disputes.
“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.”
In addition to the team's best player fully supporting Dalton, the coaches also appear to have his back. Which will certainly go a long way in any contract negotiations.
"Andy's done a fine job for us," coach Marvin Lewis said during the offseason. "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 first-year offensive coordinator Hue Jackson added: "He's on the cusp of something really good. ... 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."
Now the question becomes just how much Dalton is worth. The Bears gave Jay Cutler a seven-year, $126.7 million deal in January -- about $18 million annually. Is Dalton, who is 30-18 as a starter (and 0-3 in the postseason) looking at that kind of payday? (Cutler, by comparison, is 56-48 during his career and 1-1 in the playoffs.)
Seems steep but it's not Dalton's fault that the Bears may have overpaid to keep Cutler.