Andy Dalton

Bears Looking To Move Up In Draft For Quarterback?

While the Bears may have promised Andy Dalton the starting gig, they’re still in the market for a rookie quarterback. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network (on Twitter) reports that Chicago is looking to move up in the draft in pursuit of one of the top quarterback prospects.

One of the teams I’m told is a realistic possibility to trade up is the Chicago Bears, who want to trade up to get a QB,” Pauline said during a recent episode of his podcast.

Pauline specifically points to the Cowboys at No. 10 as a potential trade partner, which would take Chicago out of the running for (presumably) Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and at least one of Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance. The Bears are currently armed with the No. 20 pick in the first round, along with a second- and third-round pick.

While the Bears may be set atop their depth chart with Dalton and Nick Foles, there have been continued whispers that they could look to the draft (including the first round) for another quarterback. Head coach Matt Nagy even seemed to acknowledge that the organization has been eyeing a handful of rookies QBs during a recent meeting with reporters.

As everybody knows, we’ve been to a few pro days with some of these quarterbacks and it definitely helps, but there is only so many of those you can do and see. What’s fair is every other team is doing the same thing. Ryan and I are super excited about going through that evaluation process together and how we do it. It’s a challenge, but we look forward to it. There are a lot of good quarterbacks in this draft class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears’ HC, GM On Andy Dalton, Draft QBs

The Bears’ quarterback hunt didn’t end with the splash that some fans were hoping for. When their push for Russell Wilson went nowhere, they pivoted to longtime Bengals starter Andy Dalton, who just finished a so-so year as the Cowboys’ fill-in QB. For now, GM Ryan Pace plans to build the offense around the 33-year-old.

With Dalton, the things we like as you look at it, obviously his experience — he’s a nine-year starter, he’s been to three Pro Bowls, a lot of leadership with Dalton, decision making, his decision making, he’s won a lot of games in this league,” Pace said (via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com).

Still, with Dalton backstopped by 32-year-old Nick Foles, the Bears need to think beyond 2021. They currently hold the No. 20 overall pick, which takes them out of the mix for this year’s elite prospects. In theory, they could explore trades for the Jets’ Sam Darnold, or the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo, but they already seem set on experienced signal callers. So, where do the Bears go from here?

Over the weekend, Pace and head coach Matt Nagy discussed their decision to sign Dalton and their mindset heading into the draft.

Pace on Dalton’s fit: 

Andy’s been a durable player. I think that is something that is understated. And I think, really, Andy fits our style of offense. When you go through it with our scouts and coaches, he can handle the drop-back game, he can handle the RPOs, the play actions, the movements. And we just felt, as we went through those free-agent quarterbacks, he’s one of the more complete quarterbacks that we evaluated in free agency, and we’re excited to have him.”

Nagy on the draft’s QB depth:

As everybody knows, we’ve been to a few pro days with some of these quarterbacks and it definitely helps, but there is only so many of those you can do and see. What’s fair is every other team is doing the same thing. Ryan and I are super excited about going through that evaluation process together and how we do it. It’s a challenge, but we look forward to it. There are a lot of good quarterbacks in this draft class.

Nagy on the QB evaluation process:

It is more difficult because you just don’t have the luxury of being at the combine and seeing these guys throw and see the ball come out of their hands and their footwork. You get to see every one of those guys from the top guy to the bottom guy. Right now you just don’t have the luxury of doing that.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Start Andy Dalton

On Monday, Bears GM Ryan Pace anointed Andy Dalton as his starting quarterback for 2021 (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson). Dalton, who inked a one-year deal with Chicago earlier this year, is years removed from his best work. Still, Pace believes that Dalton can turn things around for the Bears, who have turned in two straight .500 seasons. 

Dalton’s one-year, $10MM deal was a solid indicator that he’d be starting, or at least considered for the starting role. Still, it wasn’t the splashiest choice for a team that watched Mitchell Trubisky decline over the last couple of years. For what it’s worth — the 49ers and Broncos were keenly interested in Dalton, so the Bears aren’t the only club that believes in the 33-year-old.

Both Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are on the hot seat, so there’s a lot riding on Dalton’s arm. For now, he’s slated to be backstopped by Nick Foles, though no one would be surprised to see him traded in the coming months.

Dalton enjoyed success during his run as the Bengals’ starter, earning three Pro Bowl nods and five straight postseason berths. But, after his tenure from 2011-19, the Bengals let him walk. After Dak Prescott‘s season-ending injury, he took over under center for the Cowboys. In eleven games and nine starts, the veteran finished with 14 touchdowns against eight interceptions while averaging 6.5 yards per attempt.

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Broncos, 49ers Showed Interest In QB Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton had multiple suitors before joining the Bears. Both the Broncos and 49ers expressed interest in the veteran quarterback before he signed with Chicago, writes Dan Pompei of The Athletic.

Dalton ultimately inked a one-year, $10MM deal with the Bears, a contract the other reported suitors were unwilling to match. Per Pompei, the Bears also promised the 33-year-old that he’d have the inside track at the starting gig, a commitment that neither the Broncos nor 49ers could offer.

Still, Denver’s interest in Dalton isn’t that surprising, as the organization has seemingly been connected to every available quarterback (except, reportedly, Sam Darnold). The team made an offer for Matthew Stafford, and they were planning to pursue Deshaun Watson before his off-field conduct began to surface. Dalton presumably would have competed with Drew Lock, the league-leader in interceptions this past season, for the starting gig.

The 49ers’ interest is more of a surprise, and it could be a bit telling. San Francisco has since traded for the third-overall pick, and considering the draft capital that they surrendered, they’ll presumably select a rookie quarterback at that spot. The front office has since committed to incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo as their starter in 2021 and their stopgap until the rookie QB is ready to step in, and it sounds like the veteran has yet to hit the trade block. The 49ers’ interest in Dalton could be a sign that the team was indeed considering trades for Garoppolo, as three (somewhat) starting-caliber quarterbacks would have been redundant.

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NFL Contract Details: Jones, Floyd, Williams, QBs

Some assorted contract details from around the NFL:

  • RB Aaron Jones, Packers: Four years, $48MM, including $20MM over first two years. $7MM roster bonus in 2023. Owed $16MM in 2023 and $12MM in 2024. Via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter.
  • LB Leonard Floyd, Rams: Four years, $64MM, including $32.5MM guaranteed. $14MM signing bonus. Salaries: $2MM (2021, fully guaranteed), $16.5MM (2022, fully guaranteed), $15.5MM (2023), $16MM (2024). Via Pelissero on Twitter.
  • DE Leonard Williams, Giants: Three years, $63MM, including $45MM. $22.5MM signing bonus. Salaries: $3.5MM (2021, fully guaranteed), $19MM (2022, fully guaranteed), $18MM (2023). Cap charges: $11MM (2021), $26.5MM (2022), $25.5MM (2023). Via Manish Mehta on Twitter.
  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington: One year, $10MM, including $6MM guaranteed. Max value of $12MM. $6MM signing bonus. $3MM base salary, $1MM per-game roster bonuses. Up to $2MM in incentives. Via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post on Twitter.
  • QB Jacoby Brissett, Dolphins: One year, $5MM, including $2.5MM guaranteed. $2.5MM signing bonus, up to $2.5MM in incentives. Via Pelissero on Twitter.
  • QB Andy Dalton, Bears: One year, $10MM. $7MM signing bonus, $3MM base salary, up to $3MM in incentives. Via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter.
  • LB Carl Lawson, Jets: Three years, $45MM, including $30MM guaranteed. $1MM signing bonus. Salaries: $6.2MM (2021, plus $7.8MM roster bonus), $15MM (2022), $15MM (2023). Cap charges: $14.3MM (2021), $15.3MM (2022), $15.3MM (2023). Up to $800K in sack incentives each year. Via Mehta on Twitter.

Bears Showed Interest In Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Bears landed their post-Mitchell Trubisky quarterback, with recent acquisition Andy Dalton indicating Thursday he was told he would be the team’s starter next season (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Adam Jahns). But they held discussions with at least one other option as well.

Ryan Fitzpatrick said Thursday more than three teams expressed interest in him this offseason, via Pro Football Talk, and Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan notes the Bears were one of those teams (Twitter link). The Broncos were also connected to Fitz, though reports of the team having conversations with the ex-Dolphins passer before the legal tampering period would indeed constitute tampering. So it is uncertain if any talks between the Broncos and the 16-year veteran passer transpired.

Washington signed Fitzpatrick, agreeing to terms with him a day before Dalton committed to the Bears. Dalton has a key connection with the Bears, with the team employing ex-Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor as its OC. But Fitz has shown over the past three seasons he still has some intriguing capabilities left, despite being 38.

Chicago still has Nick Foles on its roster as well, with his reworked contract now expiring after the 2021 season. While it perhaps should not be ruled out the Bears will load up again for another round of Russell Wilson trade talks, the organization had multiple fallback options this week. Dalton will be the one to suit up for the team next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Sign Andy Dalton

Another one of the quarterback dominos has fallen. Andy Dalton will be signing with the Bears, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s a one-year deal worth $10MM that carries an additional $3MM in incentives, Schefter reports. We heard earlier this morning that the Bears were interested, and they were able to get something done. Chicago had been “circling” for a few days and the 49ers also had interest in his services, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. San Francisco’s interest is eyebrow-raising, and Dalton’s presence would’ve put some heat on Jimmy Garoppolo.

Understandably, Dalton opted to go with the team where he has a clearer path to starting duties. Financially, it’s very similar to the deal Ryan Fitzpatrick signed with Washington last night, which was also for one year and $10MM + incentives. Jameis Winston‘s new deal with the Saints is worth “up to” $12MM, so this appears to be where the bar has been set for quasi-starters with teams who have uncertain futures under center.

Mitchell Trubisky is a free agent and not expected to return to the Bears. Nick Foles is still on the roster, but Dalton can likely be penciled in as the starter for now. That being said, the commitment to him isn’t too large, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Chicago opted to still draft a rookie early or try to pull off a miracle trade. As of a couple weeks ago they were apparently all-in on a pursuit of Russell Wilson.

It’s unclear if this signing will alter those plans at all. Dalton was the Bengals’ starter from 2011-19, and had some real success, making the Pro Bowl three times and leading them to the playoffs in five straight seasons at one point. He was allowed to walk as Cincy entered a rebuild, and ended up in Dallas as a backup last year. After Dak Prescott‘s season-ending injury, he took over under center.

In 11 games and nine starts for the Cowboys, he finished with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions while averaging 6.5 yards per attempt. Not exactly eye-popping numbers, but he was in a tough situation.

There’s also a lot of familiarity here, as Bill Lazor is the Bears’ new offensive coordinator. Lazor was Dalton’s QBs coach and then OC for a few years in Cincinnati. Assuming Dalton is the starter, he’ll be tasked with saving the jobs of head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace, both of whom are on very thin ice entering 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Interested In Andy Dalton

The Bears have interest in signing Andy Dalton, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Dalton, who will turn 34 in October, started nine games for the Cowboys last year.

Dalton wasn’t great in his fill-in starts for Dak Prescott, but the Bears are exploring every option possible. As it stands, veteran Nick Foles projects to serve as their starter and Mitch Trubisky probably won’t be back as their safety net.

“Everything is on the table in regard to the quarterback situation,” GM Ryan Pace said recently. “And, honestly, that includes players on our current roster, that includes free agency, trade, the draft and a combination of all those. We have a plan in place, and now it’s about executing that plan.”

Around this time last year, Dalton said that he wanted to start in 2021. There’s a non-trivial chance that the Bears could give him that opportunity, though they’d much prefer to have the ex-Bengals QB as the backup to someone else.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

COVID-19 Latest: Bubble, Bengals, Dalton

With the NFL passing an in-case-of-emergency amended playoff bracket and having a tentative Week 18 in place in case games need to be rescheduled, the league is planning ahead. Its months-long anti-bubble stance remains, but the prospect of one taking place in the postseason has not been ruled out. The NFL will consider holding conference championship games at neutral-site bubbles, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Like the 16-team bracket, this would be a contingency plan. Should the NFL proceed with bubbles for its penultimate postseason round, Maske notes warm-weather cities would be the likely sites.

Here is the latest on the NFL’s navigation of the coronavirus pandemic:

  • As cases spike nationally, the NFL has seen a significant uptick as well this month. Forty-seven percent of the league’s positive coronavirus tests this season came during November’s first two weeks, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes. As such, the NFL is bracing for more COVID-related trouble after Thanksgiving. The league expects cases to surge after the holiday, with high-ranking execs informing Jones the bulk of its cases thus far this season occurred because of in-home gatherings. No games have been rescheduled since Week 7, but given the protocol adjustments and postseason contingency plan, the league appears to be preparing for postponements to re-emerge.
  • Beginning Saturday, all NFL teams will be thrust into the intensive COVID-19 protocol. The recently implemented higher-security format will be the new norm, per NFL.com’s Judy Battista. Positive tests were previously necessary to move teams into the intensive protocol — which calls for all meetings to be held virtually, masks to be worn at all times at team facilities and no player congregation to occur outside of teams’ headquarters — but the league’s Thanksgiving-related concerns have prompted precautions.
  • The Bengals were without four coaches during their Week 10 game against the Steelers and will be without three staffers this weekend as well. Cincinnati cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson, wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell and safeties coach Robert Livingston will not be with the team in Washington due to COVID-19 protocols, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Last week, the Bengals were without Jackson, Bicknell, linebackers coach Al Golden and senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner. Bengals DC Lou Anarumo will assume more responsibility this weekend, per the team, in overseeing the team’s defensive backs.
  • Former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will be back in the Cowboys‘ starting lineup this week, but he has not yet fully recovered from the coronavirus. The 10th-year veteran developed symptoms and has not fully regained his taste and smell senses, via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). Dalton’s wife and one of his sons also contracted the virus. The Cowboys activated Dalton from their reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/18/20

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Activated from IR: OL Phil Haynes
  • Placed on IR: CB Neiko Thorpe

Tennessee Titans