Jacksonville Jaguars: If not Andy Dalton then who?

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 22: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on against the Miami Dolphins prior to the game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 22: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on against the Miami Dolphins prior to the game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

If the Jacksonville Jaguars do not bring in Andy Dalton to compete at quarterback, will they bring any veteran in at all?

Ever since the news broke that the Cincinnati Bengals were releasing veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, the buzz around the NFL has centered around the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots. Dalton, who could still start in the league could have his pick of where to play based on teams’ needs. In New England, he would be replacing a legend in Tom Brady.

In Jacksonville, he would compete for the starting job against arguably the most popular rookie of the 2019 Draft Class.

There are veteran quarterbacks who could join Dalton on the open market now that four signal-callers were drafted in the first round last week and changes within the dynamics of NFL franchise are as sudden as a Dan Marino pass to Nat Moore across the middle. The Jaguars appear to be set with Gardner Minshew as their leader this season, judging by what team head coach Doug Marrone said last week in his pre-draft Zoom meeting with the local media.

But Marrone did say he wanted there to be competition at the quarterback position and every other one throughout the roster.

Dalton would provide that and could act as a mentor to Minshew, who still has question marks about his game and must take a giant step forward in his second season in Black and Teal.
While the name Cam Newton continues to swirl around the basin of TIAA Bank Field, it is Dalton who has now emerged as the frontrunner to join the franchise – with two caveats.

We aren’t sure the Jacksonville Jaguars are interested in him. And if they aren’t interested in bringing the 32-year-old veteran with nine years of NFL experience in his arm, then who will the team look to bring in?

I am not going to run off names of possible contenders to fill that role of veteran leader or a competitor for Minshew. We will have other stories to offer suggestions. What I will say is there is a strong possibility the Jacksonville Jaguars front office does nothing and goes to came with the quarterback room the way it is. Minshew as the starter. Joshua Dobbs as the backup. Jake Luton as the sixth-round draft pick and project.

That kind of proposal still makes the Jaguars quarterback situation one of the weaker ones in the NFL this season, but if the front office is serious about turning the offense over to Minshew and seeing what he can do in Jay Gruden’s system, then this is the way to go. Dalton is familiar with Gruden having worked with him in Cincinnati before he jumped over to the Washington Redskins as head coach.

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There are plenty of reasons for Dalton, a second-round pick in 2011 out of TCU – the same draft class as Newton and former Jaguars starter Blaine Gabbert (ouch).

Statistically, Dalton has had the best career of any of the signal-callers taken in that class. Would Dalton be willing to come into a situation where he knows Minshew is the starter, bidding his time and waiting for a chance to turn the Jaguars’ fortunes around? Or would Marrone turn things upside down and make this an open competition in camp?

Someone said to me earlier that bringing Andy Dalton in would be the same situation as the team’s move to sign Nick Foles last season. It’s not even close. Despite Foles’ post-season heroics, Dalton is a better quarterback. And honestly, I could be sitting here writing this column with no end result.

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ front office is pretty excited to see what their starter can do in a full season without looking over his shoulder. I’m not sure Dalton’s emergence on the roster would make easy on Minshew because at some point, should things go south, fans would clamor for the veteran. This has the makings of a boom or bust move for the front office and their need to “win now”.

Signing Dalton could prove to be a wise and shrewd move. It could also prove to blow up in the franchise’s face. Either way, a decision must be made. Either offer Dalton a contract and see if he accepts. Or, is the status quo the way to move forward with the hope Minshew becomes everything we all want him to be?

With everything the Jacksonville Jaguars have been through this offseason, do they really need another distraction while preparing for a make-or-break campaign? Maybe the answer to that question is what to decide to do with the current quarterback position. And whether or now it is a situation at all, to begin with.

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