Andy Dalton and the Jacksonville Jaguars belong together

Jacksonville Jaguars

As Andy Dalton looks at his options after being cut, the Jacksonville Jaguars are a perfect match of team and quarterback.

There was some chance they would keep him as Joe Burrow’s backup, but on Thursday morning the Cincinnati Bengals released quarterback Andy Dalton. He’ll now enter the free agent market with no starting jobs clearly available, but he should land somewhere as a backup.

The Jacksonville Jaguars turned to rookie Gardner Minshew last year after Nick Foles was injured in Week 1, and he did well enough to make it a legit competition for the starting job in the early part of the offseason. The Jaguars then pushed their chips in on “Minshew Mania” when they traded Foles to the Chicago Bears.

Minshew had the ups and downs expected of a rookie quarterback in 2019, leaving aside that he was a sixth-round pick. He should be better in his second season, and as of right now Josh Dobbs and this year’s sixth-round pick Jake Luton are behind him on the depth chart.

In Jacksonville, head coach Doug Marrone and general manager David Caldwell are on warm seats. It’s hard to know how many games have to be won this year to save their jobs, but an exodus of veterans this offseason has pointed to a roster reload they may not see the fruit of.

If Minshew were to be injured for any length of time, Dobbs and his 12 career regular season passes would be the next man up. So the Jaguars should have an eye on the veteran quarterback market, with Cam Newton as a conveniently rumored target.

After being fired as head coach of the Washington Redskins early last season, Jay Gruden is the Jaguars’ new offensive coordinator. Prior to being hired by Washington he was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator from 2011-2013, the first three seasons of Dalton’s career.

In 2013, the last year with Gruden calling the plays obviously, Dalton set career-highs in attempts (586), passing yards (4,293) and touchdowns (33). It’s the only time he has topped 30 passing touchdowns in his career, and one of two 4,000-yard campaigns in his nine seasons.

Despite some late buzz attaching them to Tua Tagovailoa, the Jaguars confirmed their commitment to Minshew by not drafting a quarterback until the sixth round. So Dalton would not be signed as competition for the starting job, but he is a veteran backup who can fill in capably if called upon. The tie to Gruden gives Dalton some extra value for a Jacksonville team that would be in tank-mode rather quickly if Minshew went down.

Next: 2021 NFL Draft: 5 players on Green Bay Packers radar

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