The Cincinnati Bengals' nightmare season continued on Friday, when Joe Burrow's season came to an abrupt end.
Burrow suffered a ligament tear in his throwing wrist, an MRI revealed Friday, during the Bengals' Week 11 loss to the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens.
For the Bengals, losing Burrow is a crushing blow to the reigning division champion's flickering postseason hopes. Meanwhile, for Burrow, it's the culmination of one of the more frustrating seasons of his young career.
Burrow's season comes to an end on the heels of working his way back from a calf injury, suffered during training camp, that seemed to limit him through the season's first month. But, after leading the Bengals to a 5-5 start to the 2023 campaign, Burrow's season is over after completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,309 yards with 15 passing touchdowns to six interceptions.
Losing Burrow is the latest example of a team that could have benefited from expending more significant resources in, and time developing, a backup quarterback. Jake Browning came on in relief of Burrow in Baltimore, passing for 68 yards with one touchdown and 40 rushing yards.
However, with the NFL trade deadline having come and gone, the Bengals may need to look to turn to free agency or the practice squads of other teams, if Cincinnati is going to upgrade over Browning for the rest of the season.
Here's a look at some of the Bengals' best quarterback options:
Malik Cunningham, New England Patriots Practice Squad
Malik Cunningham might be the Bengals' option with the most upside, but could prove most difficult to acquire after the Patriots benched Mac Jones during a Week 10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Cunningham offers tantalizing athleticism as a dual-threat quarterback capable of opening up opportunities for running back Joe Mixon in the running game, if he can harness his arm-strength to get the football to the likes of Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in the vertical passing game. However, Cunningham needs a lot of improvement as a passer. Still, after finishing as the No. 3 most athletic quarterback at the 2023 Combine, Cunningham could be a fascinating option to add a new wrinkle to Cincinnati's offense.
David Blough, Detroit Lions Practice Squad
David Blough has legitimate starting experience in the NFL, appearing in nine games, Blough could at least push Browning for the Bengals' starting job, if not win it outright.
A career 57-percent passer for 1,435 yards with six touchdowns to nine interceptions, Blough's actual production leaves a lot to be desired. However, in a pair of starts for the Arizona Cardinals late last season, Blow completed 65 percent of his passes and looked like a competent NFL quarterback, despite extenuating circumstances.
Trace McSorley, Chicago Bears Practice Squad
Trace McSorley has bounced around a bit, with the benefit of learning from multiple head coaches and experience in several schemes the past four years.
Originally chosen by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft, out of Penn State, McSorley's unique blend of athleticism, mobility, and arm-strength proved valuable when he got on the field for nine games in his career. Last season in Arizona, McSorley appeared in six games while passing for 412 yards and rushing for 61 more. McSorley could ultimately prove a name to watch, after he worked out for the Bengals back in September.
Matt Ryan, Free Agent
Ryan would be a Hail Mary attempt by the Bengals, for sure.
While Ryan seems comfortable in the confines of the CBS broadcast booth, it might prove worthwhile to make a phone call to see if he has any interest whatsoever in chasing another Super Bowl ring. If Ryan winds up being the Bengals' contingency plan, it might take several weeks to get him up to speed in the system. But, Ryan is the most experienced option for the Bengals, given the circumstances.
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