Chick Ludwig
Chick Ludwig

For the past 30 years, Chick Ludwig has been one of the Miami Valley’s most popular sports columnists, the past twelve as the Bengals beat writer for the Dayton Daily News. He retired from the DDN in October of 2009, and currently writes a weekly Bengals blog for the Cincinnati Enquirer and is the Bengals correspondent for the The Sporting News. A former voting member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, Ludwig is a journalism graduate of Ohio State University.

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Like most people, my jaw dropped and I freaked out when I saw initial reports that Dalton and the club reached agreement on a six-year, $115 million extension through 2020.  But why not?  What other choice, or option, do they have?

CINCINNATI — Quarterback Andy Dalton’s contract extension reminds me of a Carly Simon song on her No Secrets album — “The Right Thing To Do.”

That’s why I stand firmly, squarely and completely in the corner of Cincinnati Bengals’ management on this one. And Dalton and his representatives deserve high praise for agreeing to make it happen.

The Bengals could’ve allowed Dalton to play out the final year of his original rookie contract in 2014 and perhaps place the franchise-player tag on him in 2015. But both sides wanted the stability of the “known,” instead of the instability of the “unknown.”

Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn — the Dartmouth-educated daughter of team owner and president Mike Brown — crafted a brilliant contract that blends reward and incentive for Dalton, plus protection for the team in case Dalton flames out. It’s purrfect for both sides.

The Keyhole, in Newport, is proud to sponsor coverage of the Cincinnati Bengals on Press Pros Magazine.com.

Like most people, my jaw dropped and I freaked out when I saw initial reports that Dalton and the club reached agreement on a six-year, $115 million extension through 2020. In reality, it’s a seven-year contract that could max out at $97.09 million if Dalton reaches all the incentives that will allow the escalators to kick in.

Panicking Bengals fans need to realize it’s a front-loaded, team-friendly deal that contains only $17 million guaranteed. Dalton will earn $25 million the first two seasons (2014-15), and then all bets are off. That sure beats Joey Votto’s 12-year, $251.5 million deal signed in April 2012, the longest guaranteed contract in Major League Baseball history. How’s that working out for the Reds?

News flash: Good quarterbacks are tough to find in the NFL. Great ones are rare. Dalton is not — repeat, not — elite. At least not yet. But he’s good. Very good. Even excellent. And he’s getting better.

Consider:

—Dalton is just one of three quarterbacks in NFL history to have thrown for over 3,000 yards in each of his first three seasons, joining Cam Newton and Peyton Manning.

—Dalton is just one of three to have passed for at least 20 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons, joining Manning and Dan Marino.

—Dalton is the only quarterback to lead the Bengals to three straight playoff berths, and just one of five quarterbacks to lead his team to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons.

—Dalton is the Bengals franchise record holder for passing yards (4,293) and touchdowns (33) in a season, which he achieved in 2013.

Talk about durability … Dalton has not missed a start in his Bengals career, and his 30-18 regular-season record gives him the best winning percentage (.625) of any Bengals QB with 10 or more starts.

What’s more … Dalton has thrown 56 career red-zone TD passes with only three red-zone interceptions. His TD-INT ratio of 18.7-to-1 is third-best among active QBs, trailing only Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

But his critics only trumpet his 0-3 playoff record and the fact he has one TD and six INTs in the postseason.

My question is this: If not Dalton, then whom? The Bengals selected AJ McCarron — who led Alabama to two national titles — in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. But McCarron has a shoulder injury and is nowhere close to being able to play this season.

Dalton’s critics better he careful what they wish for. There are plenty of teams that would welcome 26-year-old Andrew Gregory Dalton. Like Cleveland. When Johnny Manziel takes over as Cleveland’s starting quarterback, he’ll be the 22nd starting QB for the Browns since they emerged as an expansion franchise in 1999.

To borrow nine simple, immortal words from former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche:

“You don’t live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!”

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