As it turns out, the Chicago Bears likely had a detailed plan in place when the team signed veteran quarterback Andy Dalton to a one-year, $10 million deal this spring. A plan, as it turns out, that likely involved the NFL Draft.
According to NFL analyst and insider Tyler Dunne, the Bears tried — and obviously failed — to acquire Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson, and they also had interest in Ben Roethlisberger, should the Pittsburgh Steelers have chosen to release him. When all those options didn’t pan out, Chicago inked the Red Rifle. Dalton, who had a respectable yet relatively uneventful career in Cincinnati, was coming off his first season with the Dallas Cowboys, where he filled in for an injured Dak Prescott. According to Dunne, the Bears may have had a grand plan in doing so — a plan that involved the draft.
“On March 16, the Bears signed Andy Dalton to a one-year, $10 million contract,” Dunne wrote in his May 24 column for Go Long. “One week later, the franchise proudly declared Dalton the starter with a photoshopped “QB1” tweet that infuriated roughly 99.9 percent of their fan base…As blah as that signing and that tweet seemed, though, others saw a sneaky method to the Bears’ madness.”
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Bears, Patriots Did the Same Thing…
Dunne noted that the Bears did the same thing the New England Patriots did when they re-signed Cam Newton: They gave themselves insurance so as to not appear as desperate as they actually were.
“In signing a player who has gone 74-66-2 as a starter, a player who has taken his team to the playoffs five times and wasn’t that bad in Dallas last season, the Bears could sell the impression that they found a starter for the 2021 season,” Dunne wrote.
“That helps in trying to lure free agents and really, really helps on draft day when a team is trying trade up for a franchise quarterback. New England did the same thing in re-signing Cam Newton, another move that was universally roasted.”
While head coach Matt Nagy continues to insist Dalton will be the team’s starter — even after Chicago traded up with the Giants to snag Justin Fields with the 11th overall pick — Dunne says the Bears needed a veteran signal-caller on board other than Nick Foles to help keep draft costs low.
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Bears Would Have Been ‘Taken to the Woodshed’ Without Dalton
Dunne noted that the Bears could not have simply kept Foles and convinced other teams he was going to be their guy in 2021, particularly after how he performed last season. The former Super Bowl MVP went 2-5 as a starter for the Bears in 2020, throwing 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and he never looked comfortable in Nagy’s offense.
A source of Dunne’s told him that signing Dalton helped keep the Bears from overpaying for Fields, because it gave Chicago more insurance than Foles on his own would have:
“Without Dalton’s presence, one league source puts (it), the Giants would’ve taken the Bears to the woodshed. ‘Imagine doing that when all you have is Nick Foles — you’re in trouble,’ he says. They could say to teams, ‘We’ve already committed to Dalton as a starter so what you’re asking for is too rich. We can’t do it.’ Where before, if it’s Nick Foles, it’s ‘Bro, I’m going to take you for f—— everything you’ve got. We all know you’re not going into the year with that because you’ll get fired by Week 3.’ It’s just reality.”
Now, Chicago’s reality involves a rookie quarterback whose potential appears limitless, with Dalton there as a bridge — and it looks as though the Red Rifle is already helping the Bears before the season even begins.