EDIT: It’s now official.
Dalton, 33, spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Bengals. During his tenure with the team, he started in 133 games, throwing for 31,594 yards, 204 touchdowns and 118 interceptions. The three-time Pro Bowler was benched in favor of rookie Ryan Finley after beginning the season with an 0-8 record in 2019. The Cowboys signed him to a one-year, $7 million deal last offseason, and he ended up playing in 11 games and starting in nine as Dak Prescott suffered a dislocated ankle.
A second-round pick in the 2011 draft, Dalton made four playoff appearances with the Bengals. He finished his time with the team with a 70-61-2 record as their starting quarterback, and he went 4-5 in his nine starts for Dallas in 2020.
The Bears had been tied to Dalton last season, given his experience as a starting quarterback, as well as his connections with Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor — a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for Cincinnati from 2016 to 2018. Chicago ended up signing Nick Foles to serve as competition for Mitchell Trubisky. Discussions sparked up again on Monday night when Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported the likelihood of Dalton signing with the Bears.
The signing of Dalton may not close out the possibility of the Bears making a bigger move at quarterback this offseason. Given their ties and their pursuit of Russell Wilson, it seems logical that bringing in Dalton would not prevent the Bears from continuing to pursue a deal with Seattle.
In an ideal situation, Dalton being on the roster ensures they aren’t totally left out of the quarterback market as they go after Wilson or draft a quarterback in Round 1, and the former Bengals starter would serve in a backup role. However, Dalton’s hefty price tag does make it appear as though the Bears intend on having him compete for a starting spot.
Obviously, settling for a battle of Dalton and Foles for the starting quarterback role would be a low-upside and futile process for the Bears. While it seems easy to jump to immediate conclusions about an underwhelming quarterback battle, there is still quite a bit of time for them to figure out their complete plan at this position this offseason.