The Cincinnati Bengals have made quarterback Andy Dalton their franchise quarterback and cornerstone for the foreseeable future. 

Entering the final season of his rookie contract that would have paid him just under $ 1.7 million for 2014, Dalton or the "Red Rifle" (as he is colorfully nicknamed) signed a six-year contract extension through the 2020 season earlier today.

Initial reports had the deal worth nearly $115 million, sending fans and Twitter into a frenzy by late afternoon, a deal which would have made the fourth year product out of TCU among the top players paid at the quarterback position. 

Updates came later during the day valuing the contract actually at $96 million with $17 million guaranteed, including a $12 million dollar signing bonus. 

 

According to overthecap.com, Dalton will be the 11th highest paid quarterback in the NFL with an annual salary at $16 million, but the deal is team friendly with just over 2 million guaranteed on a yearly basis. 

All in all when the dust settles, the Bengals give Dalton the ultimate vote of confidence despite criticism for his sometimes erratic play and heavy scrutiny for an 0-3 career postseason record. 

Dalton will no longer have a contract situation hanging over his head in 2014, as the Bengals look for their second consecutive AFC North division title. 

Is Dalton worth this kind of commitment? 

The numbers would overwhelmingly suggest yes. 

A 30-18 career record as a starter, Dalton has increased his yardage and touchdown totals progressively in his three seasons in Cincy. 

Last season, Dalton had a career best 4,296 yards and 33 touchdowns, stats that a decade ago would have brought MVP caliber talk in a more run first orientated overall NFL game. 

Despite a tremendous season, Dalton and the Bengals flopped in the AFC Wild Card game hosting the San Diego Chargers, 27-10 ending a year in which many believed the Bengals could challenge for the Super Bowl. 

As any fantasy player will tell you, Dalton is merely a feast or famine player. When examining his play on a weekly basis, Dalton is a great option when riding the hot hand, however he will come up small in others leaving many to scratch their heads (including my own). 

It can be a frustrating experience, but Dalton is a solid option. 

0-3? The time is now....

With a new contract and a bevy of talent around him, including superstar wideout AJ Green, running back Giovani Bernard and dual tight end threats Jermaine Gresham & Tyler Eifert, the pressure is all on Dalton's shoulders to lead the show, especially in the playoffs. 

Dalton can amass whatever regular season accolades and stats he wants, but until he performs and leads the talented Bengals to a playoff victory, the negative criticism/outlook on Dalton will remain. 

Fans only really care about winning, and until he can prove it, the loser label will follow Dalton for the rest of his career (unfortunately).

 

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