It’s a one-year deal worth $10M that carries an additional $3M in incentives, Schefter reports. We heard earlier 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 Monday night, which was also for one year and $10M plus incentives. Jameis Winston‘s new deal with the Saints is worth “up to” $12M, so this appears to be where the bar has been set for quasi-starters with teams that 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 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 the Bears 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. Those are 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.