Competition is coming for Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. What form that competition will take remains unknown, but early reports Monday linked two veteran quarterbacks to the Bears: Andy Dalton and Nick Foles.
Both head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace said they were planning on increasing competition at every position — even quarterback. But would Foles or Dalton even be a good fit in Chicago? And which one is the better quarterback overall?
Here’s a breakdown of both Dalton and Foles, taking age, injury history, skill set, and other factors into consideration in an attempt to see which quarterback could be better for the Chicago Bears.
Foles, who turned 31 in January, won a Super Bowl with the Eagles and was also named MVP of the game. He did this against the greatest quarterback and coach combo of all-time in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Foles is 4-2 in his postseason appearances. He is 143-210, throwing for 1,633 yards, with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions in his six playoff games.
Dalton is 0-4 all-time in the playoffs, and he hasn’t started a postseason game since the 2014 season. In those four losses, he has gone 88-158 for 873 yards, while throwing just one touchdown to six interceptions. Dalton will turn 33 in October.
Foles has played eight seasons in the league, starting 48 games in that span, often serving as a solid backup. Dalton has started 133 games for the Bengals in his nine years in the league, and has been his team’s starter from 2011 until late last year, when he was benched in favor of rookie quarterback Ryan Finley.
While Dalton has started three times as many games, Foles has been the far better postseason performer, and his playoff experience seems much more valuable for a team trying to return to the Super Bowl.
Foles is the more affordable quarterback for the 2020 season, but that’s it. He’s on track to make $15.1 million in 2020, $14.8 million in 2021, and he’ll make $20 million in 2022. He still has to get paid the majority of the four-year $88 million contract he signed with the Jags in 2018.
As for Dalton, if the Bears trade for him, they would take on his $17.7 million cap hit for 2020, but every year moving forward, his salary would be negotiable (and likely much more affordable). Dalton is clearly the better option fiscally speaking, considering the Bears’ current estimated cap space per Spotrac is $16.7 million.
Foles seems to fit more snugly into Matt Nagy’s system. He’s a better runner than Dalton is, and he has more background after playing in a similar RPO-laden system with the Eagles. He is also more adept at reading defenses.
Foles has a career completion percentage of 61.9, while Dalton’s is just slightly better at 62 percent. Both quarterbacks have a 2:1 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio, but Dalton has a better arm.
While Foles has never thrown for more than 3,000 yards in a season, Dalton has thrown for over 4,000 twice in his nine seasons, and the Red Rifle has thrown for under 3,000 yards just once in his career (in 2018). Dalton has benefitted greatly from the presence of Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Green, but he is still averaging a yard more per attempt in his career (7.1 ypa) than Foles, who is averaging 6.1 yards per passing attempt.
There’s also injury history to consider. Whatever his faults may be, Dalton has been a durable quarterback in his time with the Bengals. He has never suffered a serious injury in his nine seasons and 133 starts.
Foles is coming off a season that saw him break his collarbone in the first game of the year before being benched in favor of rookie Gardner Minshew. It was the second time in his career that he has suffered a broken clavicle. He also broke his throwing hand early in his career, and he has suffered a concussion.
So which is better for the Bears? If Chicago had more money or draft picks to trade, Foles would be the choice. He’s more of a proven winner despite his red flags.
However — Dalton isn’t worth losing draft capital for; while he’s a cheaper option than Foles beyond this season, if the Bears want him, they shouldn’t trade for him and should instead claim him after he’s released instead. Foles is the better quarterback, but he may not be the better one for the Bears.
Neither is as good as Teddy Bridgewater would be for this team, but Chicago doesn’t have many options left with Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum now both off the market. Much will hinge on Tom Brady’s decision, and whether he lands in Tampa, LA, or with another team.
Foles is a bigger commitment, both fiscally and time-wise, so it may be Dalton we see in orange and navy next season.