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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