Andy Dalton “absolutely” wants to return to the Bengals next year

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After the Bengals benched Andy Dalton for rookie Ryan Finley, Dalton said that his agent had tried to finagle a trade to another team. (The fact that the benching came on the day of the trade deadline made that a little difficult, to say the least.) Now that Dalton is back under center, he no longer wants to be traded.

Asked by PFT whether he wants to return to the Bengals in 2020, Dalton said, “Absolutely.”

Dalton, a second-round pick in 2011, said that not playing for three games gave him a “different perspective.” He realized that he lost no passion for the game, and that he instead developed a renewed sense that “I want to be the guy.”

The real question is whether the Bengals still want him to be the guy.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen,” Dalton said regarding the team’s decisions for next year. “I’m just going to do all I can to win the last four games.”

Dalton is signed through 2020, at a reasonable salary (by starting quarterback standards) of $17.5 million next season. The Bengals could select a rookie next year and let him sit and learn for a season, like they did with Carson Palmer in 2003.

It was Palmer retiring (i.e., quitting on the Bengals) that opened the door for Dalton to be a first-year starter. It could make sense for Dalton to be the bridge to whoever they may select with whatever pick they get at the top of the draft.