The Cincinnati Bengals are going to draft LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in April's 2020 NFL Draft. There's no debate about that. Instead, the drama surrounding Cincinnati's quarterback situation is about what will happen to the team's incumbent starter, Andy Dalton.
The veteran of nine seasons and 133 starts has one year remaining on his contract and won't have much say (more or less) in where he's playing next fall. It's just as possible Cincinnati will hold onto him as a veteran mentor for Burrow as it is they'll trade him to a quarterback-needy team, and according to former Bengals quarterback and current media personality Boomer Esiason, the perfect trade partner is the Bears.
"The thing going for the Bengals is they can trade him to a team like Chicago," Esiason told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. "I see that as the perfect fit for Andy Dalton. Maybe not as the starter, but as a (Ryan) Tannehill and push the guy they hope can be the starter, but eventually if it works out for him he would have an opportunity to take that job and earn that job and have a No. 1 defense. But it's a very difficult division. Unless Andy wants to go somewhere else."
Dalton is a popular name mentioned whenever the Bears' offseason quarterback search is mentioned. It doesn't hurt that their new offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, served as Dalton's QB coach and offensive coordinator from 2016-18, leading to even more speculation that it's a perfect marriage.
Dalton would be the ideal veteran for the Bears to add. He doesn't have a resume overflowing with success; sure, he's won more than he's lost (70-61-2 as a starter), but he doesn't have a Super Bowl ring or a league-MVP on his ledger. He wouldn't appear as an immediate threat to Mitch Trubisky, but in reality, he could end Trubisky's tenure as the Bears' starter.
Dalton is a pro's pro. He can make all the throws, he's a reliable and consistent passer, and with a great defense and good enough skill players around him, there's no reason to think he wouldn't be an upgrade from what the Bears received at the quarterback position in 2019.
Dalton's contract calls for a $17.7 million salary in 2020, which by current league standards is a bargain for a starting quarterback. The Bengals can release him with no cap penalty, but if Dalton ranks atop the Bears' quarterback wish list, it'd be wiser to trade for him than get into a bidding war on the open market. It's highly unlikely a trade will cost them more than a Day-3 pick.
Familiarity with the coaching staff, a history of success and a skill set proven to be productive in the NFL are major boxes that Dalton would check for the Bears. It just makes too much sense.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.