In terms of the 2011 NFL Draft, Andy Dalton was a steal. A second-round pick out of TCU, he assumed the Bengals' starting job immediately and he's held it ever since. In three seasons, Cincinnati has won nine, 10 and 11 games, and three times qualified for the playoffs.

Unfortunately, once the Bengals get to the postseason, their luck runs out. They're 0-3 and Dalton has struggled, completing 57 percent of his throws with just one touchdown and six interceptions.

Dalton's now entering the final year of his rookie contract, but NFL economics could make it problematic for the Bengals to give the quarterback a big-money deal.

"We are going to try to get something done but I don't know if we are going to be able to or not," Bengals owner Mike Brown said, via the Cininnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner. "At some point we are going to have to do something more than just let everyone else leave waiting to get something done with that situation. We held back this year trying to put ourselves in a position to get him done. If it turns out it can't be made to work we will do something elsewhere. I don't think we plan to go another year the way we did this year."

With escalating salaries, Brown was asked if it made sense to lock up a young quarterback like Dalton early, before he could hit free agency where another team interested in his services might drive up the price.

"The player market is something that always is surprising," Brown said. "Why the prices are so high is hard to know for sure. You look backwards and there have been more bad deals then good deals from a clubs perspective. That doesn't mean there haven't been some good deals -- there have. More often than not you don't win overpaying a guy.

”With quarterbacks there is another dilemma. With a fixed cap there is a certain amount of money and no more. You allocate that on a quarterback you have less to hand out to everybody else. It can cause attrition. We are going through a difficult time right now because we are trying to work through a deal with Andy and trying to hold back enough money in the cap to do that, yet we don't know what that is. ...