Andy Dalton 1 of the More Complete QBs Evaluated in Free Agency, Bears GM Says

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2021

FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2021, file photo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. The Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract with former Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton, agent Jeffrey Nalley said Tuesday, March 16, 2021. The three-time Pro Bowler could earn an additional $3 million in bonuses. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said Friday that Andy Dalton checked most of the boxes the front office was looking for in a quarterback during the 2021 NFL offseason.

"Obviously, his experience. He's a nine-year starter. He's been to three Pro Bowls," Pace told reporters. "He's one of the more complete quarterbacks that we evaluated this year in free agency and we're excited to have him."

The Bears signed Dalton to a one-year, $10 million contract to take over as the team's starter.

Dalton explained during his introductory press conference last month he was in constant contact with Chicago's front office while it worked on a potential blockbuster trade for the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson, and he signed quickly after that deal didn't come to fruition.

"When it wasn't happening and this worked out for both of us to come together and for me to be a part of this team, I was ecstatic because I was hoping that was gonna be the case," he told reporters. "I knew everything that was going on."

The 33-year-old longtime Cincinnati Bengals starter opened last season as the Dallas Cowboys' backup, but he ended up making nine starts after Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5.

His signing drew a lukewarm response from the Bears' fanbase, especially as it became clear he was the leading candidate to start in 2021, but he's motivated to prove himself.

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"Obviously I know there's been a lot of talk, but I'm coming in from the outside," Dalton said. "A lot of people don't know a ton about me and are gonna get to learn a lot about me while I'm here. That's all I'm worried about and so, I'm here now."

Dalton completed 64.9 percent of his throws for 2,169 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 11 appearances for Dallas last season. He ranked 25th in ESPN's Total QBR (53.8) and received a similarly mediocre 69.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.

The TCU product compiled 204 touchdowns, 118 interceptions and a 87.5 passer rating across nine years as the Bengals' starter from 2011 through 2019.

Chicago does have some talented offensive playmakers around him, led by top target Allen Robinson and a backfield trio of Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery and Damien Williams, but it's unclear whether Dalton is a significant upgrade over last year's QB tandem of Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.

One thing's for sure: the Bears' offense, which ranked 26th in yards per game (331.4) last season, must improve if they're going to push for a playoff berth in 2021.