Andy Dalton

Bears should be all-in on trade for Bengals QB Andy Dalton

Bears should be all-in on trade for Bengals QB Andy Dalton

The Cincinnati Bengals kicked off their offseason marketing of quarterback Andy Dalton on Wednesday, who's expected to be traded by or before the 2020 NFL Draft. The Bengals hold the first overall pick and, barring some shocking turn of events, will select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport spoke with Bengals director of player personnel Dick Tobin who declined to confirm a trade is coming. However, it's clear Cincinnati wants to do right by Dalton, and the only reasonable way to accomplish that goal is by sending him to a team where he can compete for the starting job.

"I can tell you one thing, what Andy Dalton's done for the Cincinnati Bengals is not something that we're going to forget and we're not going to just willy-nilly, make something happen with him that, a) he's uncomfortable with and, b) that we're uncomfortable with," Tobin said. "He came in and won for us immediately, and he's certainly not done. He's got a lot of talent, he's got a lot of leadership. ... We have the utmost respect and high regard for Andy Dalton and we don't believe by a long stretch that his career is over."

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Tobin is saying all the right things about a player who represents his biggest trade chip right now. There will definitely be a trade market for Dalton's services, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that his price goes as high as a third-round pick. It's more likely to settle as an early Day-3 selection.

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's experience with Dalton is a big advantage for GM Ryan Pace as he ponders a move for Dalton. Lazor can provide a direct and intimate scouting report of Dalton and whether he'd fit in Matt Nagy's system. If the answer is yes? Pace can't get cute; offer a fourth-round pick (which is likely coming to Chicago as a compensatory selection) and bring the 32-year-old to Chicago.

Dalton's career has had some promising moments. It's also been marred by some pretty awful Bengals teams. But if there's one thing he's proven during his nine seasons and 133 starts, it's that he can make all the throws and efficiently operate a game plan.

That's exactly what the Bears need in 2020 and beyond. Dalton will turn 33 next season and still has several good seasons left in his arm. He'd represent more than just competition for Trubisky; he'd be a legitimate starting quality quarterback Chicago can add on the cheap who can become the leader of the offense for several seasons. 

Trading for Dalton has few, if any, risks. His $17 million cap hit in 2020 is below market value for a starter and he has just one deal remaining on his contract. If he stinks, the Bears can move on with no consequence. But if he turns his career around and has a Ryan Tannehill-like resurgence with the Bears, they'll control his rights and be able to re-sign him to a lucrative contract extension. 

Dalton checks all the boxes. He won't cost much to acquire, he won't cost much against the salary cap, he has experience playing good football under the Bears' current offensive coordinator, and his history of production suggests he'd be an upgrade over Trubisky. The only thing left to do is actually trade for him, and that'll require Pace setting aside his ego and doing what's best for this team. 

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Boomer Esiason says Bears would be perfect fit for Andy Dalton

Boomer Esiason says Bears would be perfect fit for Andy Dalton

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 "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.

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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.

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Will Andy Dalton follow offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to the Bears?

Will Andy Dalton follow offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to the Bears?

The Chicago Bears filled their offensive coordinator vacancy Monday with the hiring of Bill Lazor, who served in the same capacity with the Dolphins (2014-15) and Bengals (2017-18) before being out of football last season. Naturally, his addition will add fuel to the speculation that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton may be high on GM Ryan Pace's offseason wish list.

Regardless of what the Bears decision-makers say about their confidence in Mitch Trubisky, there's no doubt they're going to add a viable threat to his starting job over the next few months. Whether it's via a highly-rated NFL draft prospect or a veteran with starter's experience in free agency, the days of Chase Daniel as backup/coach are over.

Enter Dalton, who isn't the winningest or most physically gifted of quarterbacks likely to be available this offseason, but he certainly has the kind of established resume to at least project a higher degree of success than what Trubisky's put on tape over his first three seasons in the league.

This time of year is spent trying to connect as many logical dots as possible, and there's no connection easier to make than Dalton and Lazor.

Lazor served as Dalton's quarterback coach in 2016 and kept that title after being promoted to Cincinnati's offensive coordinator in 2017, a position he held through the 2018 season. If the Bears are looking for any edge, any inside intel on quarterbacks who can not only challenge Trubisky in 2020 but potentially salvage the season too, having Lazor on staff will certainly give them that with Dalton.

It's worth noting that Dalton threw for the second-most yards of his career under Lazor's tutelage in 2016 (4,206) and had a quarterback rating of 91.8 that year. His numbers dipped in 2017 and 18 after Lazor moved up to offensive coordinator, but it's clear the two worked well together while in one of the most closely-knit coach-player relationships.

It's also important to remember that Dalton isn't a free agent this offseason. He has one year remaining on his contract at a team-friendly $17.7 million cap hit; his salary is a bargain in today's starting quarterback market. If the Bears want him, they have to trade for him.

The Bengals can cut Dalton without any salary cap penalty, but if he's the guy Chicago is targeting, they'd be wise to avoid the inflated payday he'd generate in free agency and get a trade done.

Cincinnati's asking price for Dalton is likely to be quite low. It's obvious he isn't in their plans for 2020 and they won't have much leverage in negotiations. The Bears can benefit from this; a day-three pick is probably all it will take. It's highly unlikely Chicago can land a player that late in the draft with as much upside to help them win in 2020 as Dalton, so it would be foolish to not at least consider it.

Assuming the price to trade for Dalton is right, his salary and resume of production warrants serious consideration.

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