Andy Dalton with the Cowboys.

The Chicago Bears’ quarterback situation has been a subject of debate for some time, with those debates particularly intensifying last season in discussions about starting Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles. The team opted to start Trubisky, then Foles, then Trubisky again last year, and the offense often didn’t look particularly good regardless of who was under center; while the Bears snuck into the expanded playoffs at 8-8, they lost 21-9 to the Saints, a game mostly notable for the Nickelodeon slime zone and for Trubisky winning the fan-voted Nickelodeon Most Valuable Player (after some suspect fan voting). And now, with Trubisky a free agent (and Foles still on the roster, but not an expected starter), the team has made yet another questionable move at quarterback, signing 33-year-old Andy Dalton:

Dalton played with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2011-19, throwing for 31,594 yards and 204 touchdowns there with a 62.0 percent completion rate and 118 interceptions. But his last season there was far from spectacular, coming with just 3,494 passing yards, a 59.5 percent completion mark and 16 touchdowns against 14 interceptions, and they released him in April 2020 after drafting Joe Burrow first overall. That led to Dalton signing with the Dallas Cowboys as a backup on a deal worth up to $7 million (but with only $3 million guaranteed).

And while Dalton got to play more for Dallas than expected (he’s seen above in a Jan. 3 game against the New York Jets) thanks to an injury to Dak Prescott, and while his numbers were better than they’d been at the end in Cincinnati (2,170 yards, a 64.9 percent completion rate, and 14 touchdowns against eight interceptions), his performance still wasn’t spectacular. So it’s certainly interesting to see him now turned to as a presumed starter on a richer contract, especially as he’s now 33. And given the recent history of quarterback play in Chicago, this isn’t all that inspiring:

Of course, this wasn’t necessarily the way the Bears were planning to go. There had been some discussions for weeks about them potentially trading for disgruntled Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson or making another move, such as signing free agent Jameis Winston or trading for Gardiner Minshew. But Winston reupped with the Saints (on a deal worth up to $12 million, so less than Dalton got here), and while the Bears reportedly went after Wilson, that didn’t pay off:

Look, the 2020 version of Dalton was fine, and maybe better than fine with all things considered. Coming in as a backup isn’t easy, especially into an offense tailored for a very different and notably more mobile quarterback, and Dalton’s numbers with the Cowboys were certainly okay. But he definitely doesn’t feel like a high-ceiling quarterback at this point. And while the Bears did manage to make the playoffs last year, that was in an expanded format and with a .500 record; they certainly weren’t much of a Super Bowl contender. And while their problems were far from all at quarterback, quarterback play was part of the issue. So it’s definitely notable to see them again going with a “proven veteran” and hoping they can somehow magically make a contender leap, rather than actually finding a younger quarterback to build around.

[Adam Schefter on Twitter; photo from Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.