What do Bengals do with Dalton now?

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm •  Published: January 7, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) — What do the Bengals do with Andy Dalton?

The second-round pick has done exceptional things by getting Cincinnati to the playoffs each of his first three seasons, something only four other quarterbacks have done in NFL history. Unlike those other four, Dalton has yet to win in the postseason.

Not only has he lost, he's been horrid.

Dalton has played his worst games in the biggest moments, including a three-turnover second half on Sunday that helped San Diego pull away to a 27-10 victory that extended Cincinnati's record-tying playoff misery.

It's now 23 years since Cincinnati has won a playoff game, tied for sixth-longest streak in league history. And the Bengals have tied the league record by losing their first playoff game in three straight seasons.

In those three games, Dalton has thrown for one touchdown and four interceptions. He has missed open receivers and forced passes that were picked off.

So, what now?

Marvin Lewis — who is 0-5 in the playoffs as a head coach, one loss shy of the record — is reassuring his quarterback that he's still the team leader.

"I believe in his abilities, I believe in his makeup, I believe in his maturity and I believe in his ability to let the last play go and move on to the next play," Lewis said.

That could change during an offseason that will be all about Andy.

The AFC North champions have enough returning talent on offense and defense to reach the playoffs again. The only big questions surround the quarterback.

Dalton and receiver A.J. Green are entering the final years on their contracts, the time for teams to reward players it wants to keep. Green most likely will get a hefty extension this offseason based upon his three Pro Bowl seasons.

What about Dalton? Do they believe in him enough to give him a lot more years and a lot of money? Or is it time to start hedging their bets and looking at the alternatives?

The Bengals could hold off on an extension, let Dalton play his final season and bring in another quarterback through the draft or free agency to compete for the job. Or they could just keep the status quo and leave it all up to Dalton again.

Lewis is reassuring Dalton that it's still his team.

"He said I am the guy he believes in, and he believes that I can get us over the next hump," Dalton said. "It's great to hear that from your coach, and that's what I wanted to hear."

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