Contract Forecast: Andy Dalton
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Contract Forecast: Andy Dalton

One of the bigger questions marks heading into the 2014 NFL League year is the long-term fate of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, whose 4 year $5.2 million rookie contract is set to expire after the season. While reports have begun to stir that an extension is being discussed, many see question if Dalton could be offered the Joe Flacco option - play your last year out for your next pay day.

Dalton has posted a 29-18 record as the Bengals' starter, leading them to three consecutive playoff appearances. But inconsistent play at times, and no "wow" moment to hang his hat on has kept many skeptical. Furthermore the Bengals have backloaded their 2014 roster with plenty of lesser competition at the quarterback position, signing veteran Jason Campbell, Josh Johnson, and younger options like Zac Robinson and Greg McElroy.

We'll assess Dalton's statistical performance in 2012-13 and compare them to quarterbacks of similar age and production to determine and forecast a possible extension this offseason, should one be offered.

Comparable Quarterbacks
To generate a prediction the Spotrac team determined that the following quarterbacks were viable targets to use in comparing with Dalton. The key was to locate players with similar numbers, who signed their second contract around his current age (26). Here's a look at the new money for each extension signed by each. To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
Player Length Value Avg. Salary Guaranteed Age When Signed
Joe Flacco 6 $120,600,000 $20,100,000 $29,000,000.00 27
Jay Cutler 7 $126,700,000 $ 18,100,000 $ 54,000,000 29
Matt Ryan 6 $103,750,000 $17,291,666 $42,000,000.00 27
Matthew Stafford 3 $53,000,000 $17,666,667 $33,500,000 25
Averages 5.25 101,012,500.000 19,154,166 39,625,000.000 27.75
At 26 years old, Dalton is younger than majority of our variable quarterbacks. We'll adjust the above contracts up/down to reflect each as if it were signed at the age of 26 to provide a better scope for our base prediction.

Related:  View the list of Top Average Paid Quarterbacks in the NFL
Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
5 $97,437,799 $19,487,560

Statistical Analysis

To derive the most complete set of production comparisons, we'll use Games/Season, Passing Yards/Game, Completion %/Game, Passing TD/Game, Interceptions/Game.

To assess how well the player was performing prior to signing their respective contract, we'll show the averages of these statistics two years prior to their signing date. The two-year analysis will give us a "Prime Percentage", showing how well that player was performing when the contract was signed in relation to his overall career.

Player Games/YR Pass YDS/G Comp %/G PASS TD/G INT/G
Matt Ryan (2011-12, ATL) 16 278 65.1 2.9 .81
Joe Flacco (2011-12, BAL) 16 232.1 58.6 1.31 .6875
Matthew Stafford (2011-12, DET) 16 312.7 61.6 1.9 1.03
Jay Cutler (2012-13, CHI) 13 217.5 60.7 1.46 1
AVERAGES 15.25 260 61.5 1.8925 .88
Andy Dalton (2012-13, CIN) 16 248.8 62.1 1.875 1.125
% Change 4.92% -4.34% .98% -.92% -27.57%
MEDIAN PRIME PERCENTAGE: -.92%
AVERAGE PRIME PERCENTAGE: -5.39%
In most cases here, Dalton stacks up nicely with our variable quarterbacks, showing durability in his ability to stay on the field, and exceeding the average completion percentage. He falls just short in terms of touchdowns, but nothing to throw our numbers off noticably. But his inability to keep the ball out of the other team's hands has hurt him deeply in our analysis, dropping both the median and average percentages under 0. We'll factor these Prime Percentage into our base numbers.

Guaranteed Money
Dalton has played in all 48 regular season games since entering the league in 2011. He's shown durability, and has put together increasingly winning seasons his entire career. We'll eliminate the negative prime percentage noted above and use the straight average percent guaranteed going forward.
Player Value True Guarantees % Guaranteed
Matt Ryan $ 103,750,000 $42,000,000 40.5
Joe Flacco $120,600,000 $29,000,000 24
Jay Cutler $126,700,000 $54,000,000 42.6
Matthew Stafford $53,000,000 $33,500,000 63.2
Adjusted Regression 42.6%
Results

Length of the Contract
At 26 years old, Dalton is seemingly inline for a major extension as the franchise quarterback in Cincinnati. But his lack of playoff wins, increase in interceptions, and a general skepticism about his long-term future should keep this extension on the lower end in terms of years. We'll round the averages down to 5 years for purposes of this forecast.


Value of the Contract
Our initial base terms brought forth an average annual salary just under $19.5 million a figure that would make him the 5th highest average paid quarterback in football. We'll take a unique approach here, and process two separate values, providing a low and high bar for Dalton, possibly in terms of a hometown discount to remain with the Bengals.

High Value
Utilizing our Median Prime Percentage (-.92%), we're provided with basically our base value in terms of overall dollars and annual average:
5 years, $96,541,371 | $19,308,274 per year | $33,545,069 guaranteed
Low Value (Hometown Discount)
Utilizing our Average Prime Percentage (-5.93%), we're provided with a much more feasible value:
5 years, $91,591,531 | $18,318,306 per year | $30,193,426 guaranteed


We'll split the difference to offer the best-value forecast for Dalton's next contract.

Quick Thoughts
As a former 2nd-round pick, the Bengals don't have the ability to exercise a 5th year option on Dalton (something the Panthers can do with Cam Newton). What they do have is good amount of projected cap room heading into the 2015 season, currently with just $76 million allocated to 36 players. With a salary cap projected to reach $140 million overall next season, the Bengals can build a Cutler-like extension, heavily front-loading the deal with cap space and guarantees, providing a low-cost out after the 3rd year. The use of guaranteed salaries in place of large, pro-rated bonuses is a good way to properly compensate a quarterback, while maintaining cap-friendly structure over the long-term.
Spotrac's Prediction: 5 years, $94,066,451
Average annual salary $18,813,290, estimated $31,800,000 guaranteed

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