Chicago's answer at quarterback is coming in the form of a veteran.
Andy Dalton is signing a one-year, $10 million deal with the Bears, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero added the deal is worth a maximum of $13 million with incentives added for Dalton.
Dalton's agreement to join the Bears comes after Chicago was unable to land Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson in a trade. The Bears were "extremely" aggressive in their attempts to deal for Wilson, but the Seahawks were "simply unwilling" to trade him, NFL Network's Stacey Dales reported.
Dalton heads north after spending the 2020 season with the Dallas Cowboys, where Dalton went from a savvy veteran signing to backup Dak Prescott to Dallas' No. 1 man under center due to Prescott's injury. He had to navigate a troublesome road to even be able to fill his role, overcoming a concussion and COVID-19 to play 11 games for the Cowboys.
Dalton completed 64.9% of his passes for 2,170 yards and a 14-8 touchdown-interception ratio, but with Prescott's return anticipated, it was time for him to find a better opportunity elsewhere. He has located a chance to start in Chicago, where the Bears entered the offseason searching for an answer under center after coming to terms with the reality Mitchell Trubisky wasn't the answer, nor was Nick Foles or Wilson.
Dalton could be that solution, at least in the short term. At 33 years old, he proved he still has effective play left in him. The 10th-year veteran was ranked No. 37 on Gregg Rosenthal's Top 101 NFL free agents of 2021 list prior to his agreement. He'll have to hope for a hot start, because the reputation that followed him from Cincinnati doesn't seem to have evaporated in the year since he's been with the Bengals.
Two former Bears of different eras chimed in with indirect reactions to the news:
After basking in the glow of rumors of a potential deal for Wilson, Bears fans will instead head home with Dalton in hand. It's not quite taking the mystery box over the boat, but it's definitely not the splash some hoped for the Bears, who reached the playoffs last season but need to have a better showing to secure the statuses of coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace.
Instead of making the big splash, Pace splashed some water on the Bears with the addition of Dalton. He'll likely provide the Bears with adequate play, but it would be a surprise if he suddenly elevated himself to elite status and powered an explosive attack in Chicago.