Dalton: Late timing of release limited my options

CINCINNATI — In his first comments since being cut Thursday, former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said he believes the delayed timing of his release hindered his opportunities to join another team.

“This year there were a good amount of quarterbacks that were available,” Dalton said when asked about potential trade options in a story published by Bengals.com on Friday night. “I think it would have worked out differently if I had been a free agent when the new league year started. I was still under contract and that hurt me.”

The new league year and official opening of free agency was March 18. The Bengals, a traditionally conservative franchise on the open market, exhausted much of their available salary-cap space on new players.

When that occurred, it effectively ensured the Bengals would not be able to afford Dalton’s $17.7 million salary for the final year of his contract.

To compound the situation, Cincinnati selected quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the draft, a decision that had been speculated about since before the end of last season. The Bengals were unable to find a trade partner for Dalton in the ensuing days, and he was released Thursday.

“I’m sure teams knew they [the Bengals] were going to take a quarterback No. 1 and they would release me and there was no reason to rush into anything,” Dalton, who has yet to sign with another team, told Bengals.com

Dalton made similar comments after Bengals coach Zac Taylor informed him he was going to be benched just hours before the midseason trade deadline last Oct. 29.

“I wish if he was thinking about it at least let me try to see if I could end up somewhere else or at least see if there’s interest in possibly getting traded,” Dalton said at the time. “At that point, the way it was handled, there wasn’t enough time to even have that happen.”

Dalton returned to the top of the depth chart after a three-game stint on the bench and led the Bengals to their only two victories of the season.

This offseason, the Bears were reportedly looking at a potential trade for Dalton. Chicago instead opted to deal a fourth-round pick to Jacksonville for quarterback Nick Foles on March 31. Jacksonville employs Dalton’s former offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, in the same position and is interested in pursuing the veteran quarterback, according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington.

Dalton made 133 starts in his nine-year run with Cincinnati and led the team to the playoffs from 2011 to 2015.

After his Thursday release, the non-profit foundation run by Dalton and his wife, JJ, has received a spike in donations. The foundation primarily serves seriously ill and physically challenged children, according to the bio listed on its website.

According to JJ, more than 1,000 people have contributed roughly $25,000 in the 24 hours since Dalton was released. A similar series of events occurred in October, when the foundation received more than 200 donations when Dalton was benched.

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