Dalton gets $17 million now, $22 million through early March


No, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton’s contract isn’t worth $115 million over six years, as others have reported.  The base value, per a source with knowledge of the details, is $96 million over six years.

That doesn’t mean it’s time to have a bake sale for Andy Dalton.  Still, that’s a $19 million gap between initial reports and reality.

The most important numbers are the numbers fully guaranteed at signing.  Dalton receives a signing bonus of $12 million and a roster bonus in three days of $5 million.  That’s a total of $17 million out of the gates.  Coupled with his $986,000 base salary (which isn’t guaranteed as a legal matter but it is as a practical matter), Dalton will make $18 million in the first year of the deal.

Then, on the third day of the 2015 league year in March, Dalton earns a $4 million roster bonus.  He also has a $3 million non-guaranteed base salary in 2015.  That’s $25 million over two years.

Dalton passed on the opportunity to load injury-only guarantees into the contract, since the Bengals would have wanted Dalton to buy a disability policy similar to the one that the 49ers had Colin Kaepernick buy as part of his six-year extension.  The policy cost $2 million in pre-tax dollars, and (as we’ll explain in a separate post) creates a bizarre donut hole of protection for the player and the team.

The rest of the base deal is simple.  In addition to annual workout bonuses of $200,000, Dalton has base salaries of $10.5 million in 2016, $13.1 million in 2017, $13.7 million in 2018, $16 million in 2019, and $17.5 million in 2020.

Unlike the Kaepernick deal, which loaded up the base value artificially and then used de-escalators based on playing time and team or personal achievements, Dalton’s deal potentially goes up, not down.

If in any year he participates in 80-percent of the regular-season snaps and the Bengals get to the divisional round of the playoffs (via wild-card win or bye), he gets another $1 million in each additional year of the deal.  If he qualifies at any point for the conference title game (with 80-percent playing time in the regular season), another $500,000 flows into the base value of the deal, for each additional year.  If he wins a Super Bowl he won’t be driving off in a Hyundai; Dalton will get another $1.5 million per year for each remaining year of the deal.

So if the Bengals win the next Super Bowl this year and if Dalton participates in 80 percent of the regular-season snaps in 2014, he’ll get another $18 million over the life of the deal, pushing the new-money average from $16 million per year to $19 million.  Getting to the divisional round this year pushes the new-money average to $17 million.

The contract nevertheless remains, like Kaepernick’s, mostly a year-to-year proposition, with Dalton being guaranteed as a practical matter two years and $25 million.  That’s a lot more than he would have made over the next two seasons if he’d played out his rookie deal and then been slapped with the franchise tag.  Beyond 2015, however, it’s a one-year-at-a-time existence no different than Kaepernick’s.

For most NFL players, that’s how it now works.  And if teams are going to insist on disability policies payable to the franchise in the event of a serious injury, the franchise quarterback is better off forgetting about injury-only guarantees, buying the policy, and making it payable to himself.

The contract shows that the Kaepernick structure is taking root.  That won’t change until a franchise quarterback hits the market, a franchise quarterback signs a deal in lieu of going year-to-year under the franchise tag, or the Seahawks opt to give Russell Wilson a more favorable structure if only to highlight that Seattle treats its core players more fairly than the 49ers do.

88 responses to “Dalton gets $17 million now, $22 million through early March

  1. A ton of money for a guy who tossed 20 picks last year and has 1 TD pass in three playoff losses. Also, by QB rating, he was 15th in the NFL… Pretty mediocre.

  2. Not familiar with this “Andy Dalton” character, in my time he’s nothing but a speck on the history book.

    He backs up QB Hugh Petz for the Bears during the 2024 NFC Championship Game against the Vikings. Petz is injured in the 3rd Qtr with a 22-7 lead. This guy throws 4 picks, leading the Vikings to their 8th straight Super-Bowl appearance.


  3. It’s Tony Romo Syndrome– Good QBs are so scarce that if a guy shows pretty good potential you get him on a contract asap no matter if he takes a dip in play and never lives up to his supposed potential.

    You’re an NFL team in a league which relies almost strictly on good QBs to have a winning record– what else you gonna do? Wait for the next overhyped draft pick?

  4. Front-loaded, team-friendly deal like Kaepernicks’.

    These are the types of deals that legitimate “franchise quarterbacks” don’t get.

    No hate for either of those guys, but the proof is in the details. Their teams aren’t completely sold on them.

  5. That picture paints about the right picture. Looks like he’s thinking “Those morons paid me WHAT?……alllriiiiiight” -In voice of Matthew McConoughey from Dazed and Confused.

  6. As a Browns fan, I’m glad the Bengals signed Dalton long term. He can’t throw deep and outside the numbers which is what the Browns forced him to do last year when they held the Bengals to 2 FGs. And this was with a defense that featured a 5th rounder, Buster Skrine, manning one corner spot. If the Bengals get to a SB with Dalton, I’ll be surprised.

  7. The best part of this entire story…..

    “So if the Bengals win the next Super Bowl this year”

    The End.

  8. All I can say is, they must be counting on hella production going forward cuz he certainly hasn’t earned anywhere close to that kind of coin with what he’s done to this point.

  9. You guys complain every time someone gets paid…starting QBs get these kinds of deals after a few years above average play; get used to it.

    At least Flacco won a SB to back up his salary.

  10. Dalton…Alex Smith, I would give these type of QB’s the tag before something like this.

    if KC is smart they let ole Alex play out his deal, instead of this 18 million he wants. screw “market value”, you aren’t forced to pay him that

    play out the season!

  11. Not really a bad deal for either side, Right Now Dalton is a solid starting QB and should be paid like one, if he can’t take the team any farther in 3-4 years they’ll move on, if he does, it’s not a bad deal for the Bengals and Dalton got some security up front, everybody wins.

  12. Are the Bengals on drugs? Seriously, Dalton has performed about as badly in the playoffs as any QB I’ve ever seen. The Bengals are as clueless as they come.

  13. This actually looks like a decent deal for both sides:

    Dalton gets a pretty substantial raise and enough up-front cash to be set for life, and he is only going to be “underpaid” if he suddenly becomes an elite QB. The Bengals pay 12.5 mil. for the next two seasons for a legitimately solid but not yet elite quarterback (which is not unreasonable) and the flexibility to keep or release him after 2016 based upon his performance.

    And if he actually wins a Superbowl, he gets a big raise and the Bengals have a SB winning quarterback at slightly below market value. Not bad for anyone.

  14. Imo, deals with escalators and de-escalators based on performance should be the standard across the board whether a player is considered “elite” or subpar. If a player has a bad year, he shouldn’t be paid as if he won the Super Bowl and conversely if a player does exceptionally well, his deal should escalate to match his performance.

  15. Congratulations to the Bengals for manufacturing a franchise QB!

    And hopefully Hugh Petz will be ok, he should use this disclosure of future information to figure out a way to avoid that injury and late collapse.

  16. They certainly did not Flacco themselves.

    Bengals can get out of the contract after just 2 years and $25million.

    It’s like a 2-year $25 million deal with 4 team option years. Most of the money is at the back end. He’ll see it if he lives up to the potential. If not they can get let him go no problem.

    Seriously, if they had just signed him for 2 years $25m I don’t think anyone would flinch at that. And at the end of the day that’s the minimum commitment of the contract. If he gets the money in those out years it will be because he earned it.

    If the Bengals win a Super Bowl with him they could pay him $40m a year. I wouldn’t care.

    Who Dey

  17. “They Flacco’d themselves.”

    Buddy, try reading the article before posting that oh-so-clever dig…

  18. The only successful thing that’s ever came from the Vikings franchise is… ummm… ummm…

  19. pmars64 says:
    Aug 4, 2014 2:23 PM

    As a Browns fan, I’m glad the Bengals signed Dalton long term. He can’t throw deep and outside the numbers which is what the Browns forced him to do last year when they held the Bengals to 2 FGs. And this was with a defense that featured a 5th rounder, Buster Skrine, manning one corner spot. If the Bengals get to a SB with Dalton, I’ll be surprised.
    Everyone has the right to their opinion but I think in the NFL world the Browns fans need to just stop smack talking because it makes them earn the Cleveland Clowns Fans. It just doesn’t make sense. They don’t have the W’s to back it up. Please stop! I’m asking as your One state brethen

  20. Pretty nice for a QB that in 3 playoff games is 0-3, has completed 56.91% of his passes, with 1 TD, 6 INT and a 56.2 QBR.
    I want whatever the Bengals are a smokin’!

  21. I’d like to know what the professionals think of the deal. Is this contract where it should be? I know the trolls and fanboys have their opinions (expressed in all these comments), but where should a QB like Dalton be on a long term contract? If they didn’t pay this guy, then who would replace him? Would the new guy take them to three playoff appearances? Would the new guy be a SB winner? I’m not a know-it-all, but I would guess that the Bengals signed a QB to a long term deal that makes them competitive for the next six years.

  22. Brings the new meaning to he is your UGLY BABY so you can keep him.
    Thank gawd i’m NOT a Bengals fan. You talk about rewarding MEDIOCRITY, This team had the number 3 RANK DEFENSE in the league, heck you and i could i have suited up and they would have still made the playoffs.

    But then again we talking the Bengals here, when have they ever been the blueprint to follow for success.

  23. While I don’t think Dalton is the type of QB who can lead the Bengals to a Super Bowl championship, can we please stop with the “overpaid” comments on here?

    If people don’t know how NFL contracts work, that’s one thing (and fairly easily resolved). All that matters are guaranteed money and salary cap hits. Of the $100 million+ contracts given out since 2001 (19 now), nobody ever actually got paid the full value of the contract. In fact, only 6 of those contracts that were signed prior to 2013 are even still in effect.

    It’s ridiculous to say any player who signs a $100 million contract is overpaid since he won’t likely see more than 3/4 of that money, and that’s being rather generous in estimate.

  24. “So if the Bengals win the next Super Bowl this year.”

    They may as well stated in the contract, “If unicorns appear and it starts raining cats and dogs….”

  25. Insanity. Dalton was the Chargers’ MVP in January’s playoff game in Cincinnati. Three egregious turnovers. He gave the Chargers the victory.

  26. Way to pay for an avg QB. Soon tickets to the game will be unaffordable. Way to price the average american out of coming to a game.

  27. Dalton with his rubberband arm couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.Its no accident that you find many teams in this league who seem stagnant and just can’t get to the finish line.
    Its continuous terrible decisions by management that KEEPS them there.The POOR FANS are at their MERCY of incompetence.

  28. The Bengals only wish they Flacco’d themselves – at least then they’d be paying for a guy that delivered 3 AFC-C’s in 5 years, a Lombardi, and a 11/0 PO performance.

    instead they’re #Bungling themselves. Paying a year early for a guy who simply can’t beat good teams. 33 points in 3 PO games.

  29. President of The United Sates annual salary- $ 400,000.00

    Andrew Dalton, NFL Quarterback annual salary –

    Enough said

  30. Wow!!! Even if you haven’t won a single playoff game–it’s certainly nice to be a starting NFL QB. If Dalton fails to win a playoff game this year then the Bengals–who are notoriously cheap–are going to regret this move.

  31. That contract sounds a little more fair for both sides. It says Cincy is willing to take a risk and Andy Dalton still gets paid no matter what. Better contract by far than the Ravens/Flacco deal. Dalton has not done great things. He has done good things. He is young and much is still unknown. This contract shows that, if the Bengals don’t like what they see in two or three years they are out 40 million or so and can part ways. If Dalton performs the Bengals get a heck of a deal.

  32. He must be the happiest man in Cinncinnati. The Bengals have as much chance of winning the Super Bowl next year, as I do of winning megamillions.

  33. “If he wins the Super Bowl he won’t be driving off in a Hyundai”…

    I’m so proud of you, Mike, for channeling your inner Kanye West

  34. Paul….

    Individual player contracts have no bearing on ticket prices. The salary cap is essentially fixed. The only thing this impacts is the amount of money the Bengals can offer other players.

    Why is this nonsense repeated every time a player gets paid?

  35. Dalton is a middle of the road NFL QB. He has below average arm strength, average mobility, average accuracy, and below average decision making. Rated as the lowest rated passer when under pressure. He just does not have the physical skill set to make plays. In other words every single thing has to be perfect for Dalton to shine. I’d say he is worth the 25 million over two years to have a look and see if he can improve. However I also think that’s all he will see out of this deal.

  36. Wow you people are dense. You really haven’t been watching the QB contracts lately. Dalton is a 2nd tier QB and got a second tier contract. Saying he is the 4th highest paid QB is just bunk. Newton, Luck, and others rated above Dalton haven’t signed their contracts yet and will be paid much more money. And for Newton who I love…..has the same amount of wins in the playoffs as Dalton. I cant believe the nerve of the Browns fan to open his mouth about QB’s when they haven’t had one since their punch drunk announcer was playing…..Kosar.

    For all the peeps saying Dalton got too much money……you can thank the Atlanta Falcons for giving 150 million to a QB who at that time he signed his deal had not won a playoff game but did wonderful in the regular season.

  37. Honestly its a good contract. His guaranteed money is only at $3.5 million/year on the cap. After the first three years it will be possible to cut him with a positive cap hit. He has incentive to play well every year and the most he’ll ever cost the cap is $23 million (and will have won a Super Bowl to get that much) and if he’s on the team long enough to earn that he’ll be worth that kind of money. Not to mention that the cap is supposed to raise by $10 million for at least the next few years, so every year his hit will be less and less of a percentage of the cap.

    I’m not a Dalton fan, but post season success takes time. Peyton Manning made the post season 3 years in a row, won zero games, throw 1 TD to 2 INTs, managed a QBR of 58.5 (a low of 38.2), 47.8% accuracy rating, and broke 200 yards passing once. That man is going to the Hall of Fame despite the fact that Dalton has been much better in his first three postseasons than Manning. Dalton has a 56.9% accuracy rating, 54.4 QBR, he only has one game under 200 yards, but 4 more INTS. I’m not saying Dalton will be better than Manning, just that he’s a 3rd year player who hasn’t finished developing; give the man time.

  38. 2blingluvinit, Flacco is paid the most on average, Dalton is a few million less then Roethliesburger, and the lowest paid North QB will be whoever the Browns decides who sucks less.

  39. @themagicfanguy Although I think his Mike Zimmer prediction is absolutely ridiculous, dont forget the unsuccessful former coach of the Browns who went on to win 3 Super Bowls. A great coach learns from mistakes and sometimes they have to be fired to change philosophy.

  40. This will put an end to all the “Drew Brees is overpaid” comments (which he is not). Drew’s first contract with the Saints was 6 years, $60MM. When you average out both deals, it is $15MM / year; very reasonable for the best QB in the NFL.

  41. humb0lt says:
    Aug 4, 2014 3:11 PM
    Insanity. Dalton was the Chargers’ MVP in January’s playoff game in Cincinnati. Three egregious turnovers. He gave the Chargers the victory.
    Some have said that Manning was the Seahawks’ MVP in February. So you could say he’s in good company.

    The Bengals hadn’t had back-to-back playoff seasons for three decades, and now they’ve had three in a row. Dalton has been one of the key contributors, and if he learns from his mistakes, continues to improve, and they get the right 10 guys around him, I could see them advancing deep this year.

  42. no one cares about the bengals. they havent been relevant since the late 80s and to pay a qb who has 0 playoff wins is typical bungle behavior.

  43. “no one cares about the bengals”

    Says the person who took time out of his day to read and comment on a post about the Bengals…

  44. This is third year Andy is supposed to take the next step. I don’t see it. He’s at the ceiling now. Question for Bengals fans: what’s Andy’s AFCN record? Now look at Flacco’s and Ben’s. Daaaayyyumm.

  45. That’s a lot of money for a guy this young. He’s good enough to get the Bengals to the playoffs, but another year or two of the same from him, and he’ll be the AFC’s version of Tony Romo.

  46. “They Flacco’d themselves. Smh”

    Not really. The Ravens didn’t pay Flacco until AFTER he won a SB.

    Not saying Dalton can’t, but I don’t see it as long as Marvin Lewis is the HC.

  47. “For all the peeps saying Dalton got too much money……you can thank the Atlanta Falcons for giving 150 million to a QB who at that time he signed his deal had not won a playoff game but did wonderful in the regular season.”

    Ding! We have a winner.

  48. Good contract. Win-win. Bengals are gonna be fine this year. Cant wait for it to start. This is a two year deal witch Dalton has earned. How many of YOUR quarterbacks have gone to the playoffs every year they have been in the NFL?

  49. I love all the hating on Dalton…the fact that he threw 30 TD’ in his 3rd year in the league means little to those who only know what they read.
    His numbers are comparable to Peyton Manning’s in his first 3 years.
    He needs to step it up big time in the playoffs, no doubt..but I’ll take Dalton over a lot of starting QB’s in the league, including the 2 clowns in Cleveland.

  50. Thank you Flacco for the inflation of mid-tier QBs, somewhere Alex Smith is smiling.

    Well, Bengals can stay trying to win a playoff game, because 23 years isn’t enough.

  51. I’m pretty sure things will be much better for Dalton now that he has a bonafide OC. Remember Grudens reasoning for not throwing any passes to AJ in the first half of the Playoff game a couple years ago? He wanted to trick the Texans LOL! Let’s see how he does with Hue and an NFL-caliber running game and then judge.

  52. Dalton exploited every bit of leverage he had.

    I echo the sentiment of everyone – wow that’s a lot of $ for Andy Dalton.

  53. Gosh, who would be a better alternative??

    Cutler?? 2 playoff appearances with his contract?
    Has Cam Newton won a playoff game?
    Tony Romo……lolololol

    Ponder, Locker, Tannehill??

    I’m confused…….who is better than what we have?

  54. I’m not talking smack as much as what I’ve seen, read, heard, etc. about the guy. AJ Green was visibly frustrated with Dalton last year. No doubt the Browns have been a joke, but the Bengals seem to lose to them every year regardless. Some have argued that the Bengals have the most talented roster in the AFC and nearly matching the quality of the 49ers. And yet, they’ve been dominated in the playoffs each of the past 3 seasons with Dalton being a big reason for it.

  55. whatnojets says:
    Aug 4, 2014 3:23 PM

    President of The United Sates annual salary- $ 400,000.00

    Andrew Dalton, NFL Quarterback annual salary –

    Enough said
    Enough said all right! One of them is waaaay overpaid and its not the Ginja Ninga!

  56. Peyton Manning gets ONE SuperBowl win and a zillion playoff losses, but he’s considered the Top QB in the NFL. Andy Dalton ties PM’s first three years and he’s a ‘bust’? Really? This kid was selected in the 2nd round and came to a team that WAS the laughing stock of the NFL (even though that was not the case during the Carson Palmer era, completely), and since he has arrived, The Cincinnati Bengals are considered in the race each season. The fact is, if AD had hit the market, it would mean the Bengals would need to find another QB that could, at minimum, get them to the playoffs… Andy is doing that part with ease!

  57. There is no question that Dalton’s playoff performances have been frustrating, but I think he’s still young enough that he can turn that around. Thus, I think the contract is a good thing. He has an excellent attitude and has played well in the regular season. It takes some quarterbacks a longer time than others to achieve playoff success. Andy has a very talented team around him, and he will want to prove the doubters wrong. He’s a good kid. Let’s give him a few more chances.

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