When Andy Dalton signed with the Chicago Bears, he did so understanding that he’d be the team’s starter. Even after the team traded up to draft Ohio State star Justin Fields in the top half of the first round, Dalton says his situation remains unchanged.
After a lengthy tenure as the starter for the Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton signed with the Dallas Cowboys as Dak Prescott‘s backup last year. He was thrust into the starting role for nine games last year due to Prescott’s season-ending injury, going 4-5 with the team.
The Bears had their eyes on a big trade for Russell Wilson this offseason, when he and the Seattle Seahawks looked to be heading for a breakup. Instead, the team settled for Dalton as something of a stopgap option. Now, the future of the position looks pretty certain, and most figure the question is “when” not “if” Fields will take over the spot.
“I knew the situation I was going into, regardless of if they drafted somebody or they didn’t,” Dalton said during a presser today. “I was on a one-year deal and I was going to be the starter. My mindset didn’t have to change.”
Andy Dalton on getting acclimated with the Bears and leading a new team: "I'm trying to do everything I can to make us the best team we can be come the fall." pic.twitter.com/ch7ijJZaVh
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) June 2, 2021
“I already knew that I’m going to do everything I can to be the best player I can for this team and to help us win a lot of football games… Whatever happens after this year happens. But my mindset didn’t change because they drafted Justin.”
Andy Dalton may be penciled in as starter, but there is no guarantee that he has that spot come Week 1. Justin Fields said that he plans to “do everything I can to get that starting job,” while acknowledging that the team has a plan for him. If he’s clearly the better, more talented option during training camp though, he may force Matt Nagy and the Bears leadership’s hand.
The Chicago Bears face the Los Angeles Rams on the road in Week 1, which could also play a big factor here. L.A. has one of the NFL’s best defenses, and that may not be a position that the staff wants to put Fields in for his first game.