Andy Dalton isn’t the long-term answer for the Patriots, but could he be a short-term fix?

The future of the quarterback position in New England remains a mystery. Tom Brady will become a free agent when the new NFL year opens in mid-March, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be returning to Foxboro for a 21st season. The organization seems to see potential in 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to take the reins in the 2020 campaign.

Peter King, for one, likes the idea of Dalton succeeding Brady. King believes Bill Belichick would like to work with the 32-year-old, who very well could be available for trade this offseason.

What would it take for New England to pull off a deal for the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback? King has a rough idea.

“I’m getting ahead of the game here a bit, but I think a great alternative for Andy Dalton in 2020 would be New England, if it moves on from Tom Brady. Dalton has one year left on his contract, and the Bengals would surely try to recoup something for him,” King wrote in his latest Football Morning in America column for NBC Sports. “But with everyone in the league knowing Cincinnati would be moving on from him in 2020, what would fair value be? A third-round pick? (Too high.) A fourth? Maybe. It’d be interesting if the Patriots viewed Dalton as a one or two-year bridge to (Jarrett Stidham) or a future draftee.”

Cincinnati might not have much leverage in a Dalton trade, which New England obviously would benefit from if it were to actually pursue the veteran signal-caller. It’s become a near-certainty the Bengals will select LSU’s Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in late April. Couple that with Dalton’s expiring contract, and Cincinnati might end up looking for even a modest return rather than trying to cash in on the three-time Pro Bowl selection. New England also is expected to have a solid collection of later-round picks this spring, including a fourth-rounder, three sevenths and potentially four sixths after compensatory selections are issued.

If the Patriots are able to obtain Dalton at a bargain price, it might be a move worth looking into.

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