Bengals QBs: Meet The Quarterbacks Who’ve Lead The Cincinnati Team Over The Last 20 Years

As the Cincinnati Bengals head to Super Bowl LVI, we're taking a look back at the past 20 years and the quarterbacks who have lead the team during that time.

Joe Burrow
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Image Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/Shutterstock

The Cincinnati Bengals are headed to the Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday, Feb. 13! Bengals fans are definitely excited to see their team head to the big game, considering how their last appearance was at 1989’s Super Bowl XXII against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cincinnati is the only team of the conference finalists who haven’t won the big prize, so a lot weighs on this upcoming game! Here we’re breaking down the star quarterbacks who have lead the team in the past 20 years, from John Kitna to the team’s current QB, Joe Burrow.

John Kitna 

John Kitna
Former Bengals quarterback John Kitna (Keith Srakocic/AP/Shutterstock).

John Kelly Kitna was born September 21, 1972 in Tacoma, Washington. The sports star first attended Concordia Lutheran School before transferring to Lincoln High School, lettering in basketball, baseball, and, of course, football. John then enrolled in Central Washington University and walked on to the football team, ultimately becoming the team’s star quarterback. After his four years on the team, he finished his college career with 43 games played and a total of 12,353 passing yards, 99 touchdowns and 59 interceptions.

John began his professional football career somewhat on a blip. After finishing his math education degree at CWU, he was looking at high school coaching jobs. During that time, Seattle Seahawks coach head coach Dennis Erickson was visiting campus to give a tryout for his nephew when he was impressed with John’s strong passes. The young football star was then signed to the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. After playing with the Seattle team from 1997-2000, John was not re-signed and was brought on to the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent for the 2001 season.

John was fortunate to win the starting quarterback spot on the team and went on to start 15 games. He played with the Bengals from 2001-2005, achieving many outstanding feats and named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2003 after throwing for over 3,500 yards and 26 touchdown passes, leading the Bengals in an 8-8 record which was the team’s first non-losing season since 1996.

John subsequently played with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, suffering a herniated disk problem in 2011 that forced him into retirement. He has since worked as a football coach for numerous schools and currently serves as the head coach and athletic coordinator for Burleson High School in Burleson, Texas.

Carson Palmer 

Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer arrives at the 8th Annual NFL Honors at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, 2019 (Peter Barreras/Invision/AP/Shutterstock).

Carson Palmer was born December 27, 1979 in Fresno, California. Taking not of his son’s large size and arm strength, Carson’s father enrolled him in classes in Orange County where he was taught by quarterback guru Bob Johnson. He went on to play football at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, supposedly impressing his teammates so much that varsity team members would halt their practices to watch him play. After fielding multiple offers from colleges like Notre Dame, San Diego State, and Northern Arizona University, Carson signed with the University of Southern California in 1998 where he became one of the nation’s top recognized quarterbacks his junior year. He broke the school record for most completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns in a season and was voted the winner of the 2002 Heisman Award.

In July 2003, Carson signed a six-year contract worth $42.69 million with the Bengals, ultimately not playing at all during his rookie season but watching and learning the position during games and at practice. In 2004, he was given the starting quarterback position and played with the team from then until 2010, when he told head coach Marvin Lewis he planned on retiring. It wasn’t until after Carson played with the Oakland Raiders from 2011-2012 and the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-2017 that he finally retired.

At the time of his official retirement in 2018, Carson was 12th all-time in both passing yards and passing touchdowns with 6,247 and 294, respectively.

Andy Dalton 

Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton (Gary Landers/AP/Shutterstock).

Andrew Gregory Dalton, born October 29, 1987, is originally from Katy, Texas where he played for the Katy High School Tigers. He started only one full season as a quarterback for the team senior year, leading them to state finals and throwing 2,877 yards with 42 touchdowns and 15 interceptions that season. He was named the Greater Houston Area offensive player that year by the Houston Chronicle.

Andy went on to play for Texas Christian University starting in 2004 where he was redshirted his freshman year. Notably, his junior year he lead the team to a perfect 12-0 season and his senior year, he lead the team to win their second consecutive Mountain West Conference Championship. He held school career records with wins (42), passing yards (10,314), pass attempts (1,317), completions (812), and completion percentage (61.6).

In 2011, Andy was drafted to the Bengals as their second round pick, 35th overall in the NFL draft. At the end of his first season, he won the NFL Players Association Emerging Player Award and was named a Pro Bowl Alternate his first year. He lead the Bengals as QB from 2011-2019, and the team ultimately released him that year for first overall pick Joe Burrow.

Andy then signed a one-year contract in March 2020 with the Dallas Cowboys worth $7 million, helping the team finish with a 6-10 record. He subsequently signed another one-year contract worth $10 million with the Chicago Bears, where he currently resides. He started in the first two games before suffering a knee injury, ultimately relegated to backup behind Justin Fields. After Justin suffered a rib injury against the Baltimore Ravens, Andy stepped in to play, although the Bears still lost 13-16. For the 2021 season, Andy passed for 1,512 yards, eight touchdowns, and nine interceptions in eight games.

Joe Burrow 

Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/Shutterstock).

Joseph Lee Burrow was born on Dec. 10, 1996 in Ames, Iowa. He grew up around the sport of football, redshirtting his first year at Ohio State and playing in 10 games over two years. In 2018, Joe transferred to Louisiana State University. In 2019, he led the LSU Tigers to college football glory, defeating the Clemson Tigers in a 42-25 victory. That year, he won the Heisman Trophy.

After that win and five years of college football, Joe entered the 2020 NFL Draft and was the Overall No. 1 Draft Pick for Cincinnati. He was the third consecutive Heisman-winning quarterback to be selected first overall behind Baker Mayfield for the Cleveland Browns and Kyler Murray for the Arizona Cardinals. Joe’s four-year contract was signed in July 2020 worth $36.1 million.

Although Joe had an admirable rookie season in 2020, he ended it with a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee with other damage to his PCL and meniscus. He was placed on injured reserve, but came back to the 2021 season strong and ready to play. Lucky for team, during the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Joe threw for 250 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and helped the Bengals win 27-24 in overtime, leading the team to Super Bowl LVI.

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