Bears linked to free agent quarterback Andy Dalton, per Rapoport

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Alex Shapiro
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Rapoport: Bears showing 'significant interest' in Andy Dalton originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

 

Add another quarterback to the list of guys linked to the Bears this offseason: Andy Dalton. On the NFL Network, Ian Rapoport said the Bears have shown “significant interest” in the veteran QB.

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“Andy Dalton, I know, is generating significant interest from a couple of quarterback needy teams,” Rapoport said. “One of them, the Chicago Bears, who have basically, it seems, been interested in every quarterback.”

It’s not surprising, as Ryan Pace’s mantra this offseason has been “Everything’s on the table at quarterback.” The Bears will leave no stone unturned in their QB search in case they’re not able to make a deal for Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson. If the Bears ultimately decide to go with a veteran quarterback, there’s logic that points to Dalton being a suitable choice.

For starters, Cam Newton, one of the most intriguing options, is already off the table. Multiple reports say the Saints and Jameis Winston are working towards a deal to make him Drew Brees’ replacement, so that’s another high-ceiling option likely gone. There’s still Alex Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who both showed they have some game left in their respective tanks. But neither quarterback offers much upside. Jacoby Brissett and Tyrod Taylor are still available too, but Brissett hasn’t started since 2019, and Taylor has only started four games since 2018.

Then there’s Dalton.

He doesn’t offer the highest ceiling among all quarterback options available to the Bears, but he’s significantly younger than both Smith and Fitzpatrick, and has familiarity with Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. More importantly, Dalton showed he can put a team on his back to win a game. In Week 14, the Bengals held Ezekiel Elliott to only 48 yards, and Dalton responded by completing 70% of his passes and throwing two touchdowns with no interceptions in a Cowboys win. One week later against the much stouter 49ers defense, Dallas didn’t have Elliott at all while he nursed a calf injury. Once again, Dalton delivered two touchdowns, no interceptions and a Cowboys win.

RELATED: 2021 NFL free agency tracker: news, signings, trades and rumors

We don’t have to guess what Matt Nagy is looking for in the next Bears quarterback, as he explicitly laid out his criteria in a press conference earlier this month.

"I'd say leadership, decision-making and if you have some versatility as a quarterback with your legs, great," Nagy said. "If you don't, no problem. We can work around it."

Dalton certainly checks those first two boxes, as he prevented the Cowboys from completely folding after they lost Dak Prescott in Week 5 and carries a career 218:126 TD:INT ratio. As for that last part, Dalton certainly isn’t known for making plays with his legs. But as Nagy himself said, no problem.

Is Dalton the sexiest option for the Bears to start next season? Of course not. But if the Bears don’t land Wilson or Watson, there might not be many better options to lead the offense.

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