Given the Bears’ limited options to fix their exasperating quarterback situation, three-time Pro Bowl player Andy Dalton is worth a shot.
Dalton has been with the Bengals for nine seasons, and no one seems to be able to decide whether he’s good. The Bears might be headed down that same path with Mitch Trubisky.
But Dalton is available as Cincinnati eyes a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. NFL Network reported Sunday that the team is working with his agent to find a landing spot he likes.
“We’re not going to just willy-nilly make something happen with him that he’s uncomfortable with,” Bengals general manager Duke Tobin said on the ‘‘Rapsheet + Friends’’ podcast.
Dalton probably won’t find a better opportunity than the one at Halas Hall, though he also has been mentioned as a possibility for the Patriots if Tom Brady leaves.
The Bears are an attractive situation for any veteran quarterback seeking a new home. They’ve had a Super Bowl-caliber defense the last two seasons to go along with a host of impressive skill players and former quarterback Matt Nagy running the show. They also just hired Bill Lazor, Dalton’s former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, as their offensive coordinator.
And the only thing standing between anyone and the starting job is a fledgling quarterback who finished 28th in passer rating and last in yards per attempt last season.
That said, there’s zero guarantee Dalton will be better than Trubisky. He’s 32 and has never been elite, and his last three seasons illustrate why the Bengals are eager to draft his successor: 60.3 completion percentage, 62 touchdown passes, 37 interceptions and an 84.2 passer rating in 40 games.
If Trubisky was maddening last season, keep in mind that Dalton’s 78.3 rating was rock bottom among qualifying passers.
But he’s available and cheap, two factors that are essential for the Bears with tight salary-cap space and few draft picks.
It’s difficult to imagine the Bengals getting more than a late-round pick for Dalton, and they might be flexible on eating some of the $17.7 million on his contract for next season. It’s the final year of his deal, and none of the money is guaranteed, so the Bengals will almost certainly cut him before June 1 for the savings if they can’t trade him.
Sniffing around for Dalton is the first sign that Bears general manager Ryan Pace grasps reality, though, and is unwilling to bet the 2020 season — and his employment — on Trubisky. There’s a big difference between trading for someone such as Dalton and bringing in a clear backup a la Chase Daniel. The Bears wouldn’t bother with Dalton unless they were ready to hold a legitimate competition for the job.