Andy Dalton calls out Bengals over timing of benching, was hoping to get traded before deadline

When it comes to the trade deadline, no team had a worse day than the Cincinnati Bengals, who apparently decided that planning for the future by trading for draft picks wasn't something they wanted to do, despite going into Week 9 with the worst record in the NFL (0-8). 

Instead of unloading some veterans on their roster to acquire a few picks, the Bengals decided to hold onto everyone, including Andy Dalton, who was surprisingly benched on Tuesday in favor of rookie Ryan Finley

In his first interview since being benched, Dalton definitely didn't sound happy about the decision. For one, the Red Rifle called out the Bengals for the timing of the benching, which came just hours before the NFL's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. Dalton, who rarely says anything that's even remotely controversial, made it clear that if he was going to be benched, he would have liked it to happen well before the deadline so that his agent could've worked out a possible trade to get him out of Cincinnati.  

"I think that's an unfortunate thing," Dalton said of the timing, via the team's official website. "It happened three hours before the trade deadline. If [coach Zac Taylor] was thinking about it, at least let us try to see if I could end up somewhere else or at least see if there was interest in possibly getting traded at that point. The way it was all handled, there wasn't enough time to even have that happen."

Dalton also said that he never got a chance to talk to anyone in the front office, which made it harder to possibly get any type of potential trade in place. 

"I haven't had a chance to [talk to anyone in the front office]," Dalton said. "I know my agent was trying to figure out what we could do in those last remaining couple of hours before the trade deadline."

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported on Wednesday that "some key members of the Brown family were on vacation in Switzerland" before the deadline, which definitely isn't an ideal time to be taking a vacation if you work in an NFL front office. 

During Tuesday's episode of the Pick Six Podcast, I went on a long rant about Dalton's benching and basically pointed out that the Bengals couldn't have botched it anymore than they did. On one hand, it makes sense that they want to see what they have in their rookie quarterback, but if you're going to play Finley, there's no reason to keep Dalton around. It was a shoddy way to treat a quarterback who led them to the playoffs five times over the past eight seasons. 

The Bengals might be able to trade Dalton in the offseason, but it's unlikely that they'll be able to land the compensation they potentially could have gotten before the deadline, when teams can get desperate to make a deal. 

The Bengals also refused to trade A.J. Green, who is in the final year of his contract and could end up walking after the 2019 season. The team could've potentially added some draft picks by trading Green, but instead, they kept him, and now could end up losing him in March without getting anything in return. 

As for Dalton, not only was he unhappy with the timing of his benching, but he also made it clear that he disagreed with the team's decision to bench him, a decision that came ON HIS BIRTHDAY. 

"It's not how I thought the birthday was going to go," Dalton said. "It's an unfortunate situation, I don't agree with it. Zac's making the decisions and so, I'm going to do my part, I'm here. I'm going to help Ryan out the best I can."

According to Dalton, he sat down with Taylor on Tuesday, and at that point, the Bengals first-year coach explained why he had decided to make the move. 

"He said he has to think about the future with the draft and they have to see what they have in Ryan, and that's what it came down it," Dalton said. "It's been voiced to me that I wasn't the reason for the way the season has gone, felt like I played well, and had done some things to keep this team together in this stretch, but he just feels like they have to figure out what they have in Ryan."

After the benching, Dalton made sure to meet with his teammates so that there wouldn't be any awkwardness in the locker room going forward. 

"Obviously, there's an awkwardness of, 'Do I say something to him? Do I not say something to him? Do I talk to him? Do I leave him alone,'" Dalton said. "Let's just get that behind us. If you want to say something to me, say something to me, if not, don't, it's fine. I'm going to be OK."

Although the benching appeared to come out of nowhere, Dalton seemed to have at least an inkling that it might be coming. When he was asked if he expected to get benched, Dalton didn't exactly say "No."

"It's hard to say," Dalton said. "I felt like there's a lot of things that I did well and gave us a chance to win some of these games. I've had a lot of conversations with Zac. We've met after games, we've met on numerous occasions. I've been in that office way more than I've been in there."

After hearing the news that he was being replaced by Finley, Dalton said he didn't bother to try to talk Taylor out of the decision. 

"It's one of those things where it's already been decided," Dalton said. "Nothing I'm going to say is going to change anything. He obviously felt like it was the best thing to do for this team, even though I don't agree with it. I don't think anything I would've said could have talked him out of it."

With Finley taking over the quarterback job for the final eight games of the season, Dalton said he would be doing whatever he could to help the 2019 fourth-round pick. 

"I'm going to help him out," Dalton said. "I've seen a lot of football. We have a lot of division games coming up. I understand how all these defenses play, just their scheme and things, so I'll help him from that standpoint."

As for his future, Dalton seems to have already accepted that his time in Cincinnati is likely over. In 2020, the 32-year-old wants to end up in a spot where he has a chance to play. 

"Obviously, there's a lot to come in the next eight weeks and beyond," Dalton said. "I want to have an opportunity to play, I want to have an opportunity to be somewhere where I'm wanted. If that's here, great. If that's not, then we'll see."

The fact of the matter is that Dalton's time in Cincinnati is almost certainly over, and the only question now is whether he gets traded or released after the season. Dalton still has one year left on his contract in a deal that's set to pay him $17.5 million in 2020. Thanks to his contract, the Bengals should be in a good spot to do whatever they want with Dalton this offseason. If they decide to trade him, it shouldn't be hard, because any team would only have to pay him $17.5 million, which is basically a steal for a starting quarterback in the NFL. On the other hand, the Bengals could also cut him since there is no dead cap hit for letting him go. Of course, if they do release him, they'll look even more inept for not dealing him prior to Tuesday's deadline. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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