Dalton says Bears told him starting quarterback job is his

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears apparently won’t have a quarterback competition. That job belongs to Andy Dalton.

The former Cincinnati and Dallas QB said Thursday he has been assured the top spot is his and he won’t be competing with veteran Nick Foles.

“They told me I was the starter,” Dalton said. “That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. So every conversation I’ve had has been that, so that’s the assurance that I’ve gotten.”

That wasn’t the only bit of news involving the Bears on Thursday.

The NFL Network reported star receiver Allen Robinson accepted his approximately $18 million franchise tag. A person familiar with the situation said the Bears are also releasing former All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the move — first reported by the NFL Network — has not been announced.

Robinson caught a career-high 102 passes. And his 1,250 yards were second only to the 1,400 he had with Jacksonville in his 2015 Pro Bowl season.

Fuller, drafted with the No. 14 overall pick in 2014, was All-Pro in 2018 when he tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions. He also made the Pro Bowl the following year when he picked off three passes. Fuller had one interception last season.

As for Dalton?

The former Cincinnati and Dallas QB said he has been assured the top spot is his and he won’t be competing with veteran Nick Foles.

“They told me I was the starter,” Dalton said. “That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. So every conversation I’ve had has been that, so that’s the assurance that I’ve gotten.”

A three-time Pro Bowler, Dalton agreed Tuesday to a one-year, $10 million deal. He can earn an additional $3 million in bonuses.

Dalton’s arrival is a big letdown for fans hoping the Bears would swing a blockbuster trade with Seattle for Russell Wilson. He is aware the reception he is getting is about as warm as a Chicago winter.

“Obviously I know there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m coming in from the outside,” Dalton said. “A lot of people don’t know a ton about me and are gonna get to learn a lot about me while I’m here. That’s all I’m worried about and so, I’m here now.

“Hopefully everybody gets a chance to see who I am as a player, as a person, see what we’re gonna be able to do with this organization. I’m excited about the opportunity. Obviously there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m not worried about any of that.”

Dalton said he was in “constant contact with everybody” as the Bears tried to acquire Wilson from the Seahawks. And he was thrilled when it became clear there would be no trade, because he wanted to come to Chicago.

“When it wasn’t happening and this worked out for both of us to come together and for me to be a part of this team, I was ecstatic because I was hoping that was gonna be the case,” he said. “I knew everything that was going on.”

Dalton has thrown for 33,764 yards, 218 touchdowns and 126 interceptions over nine seasons with Cincinnati and one with Dallas. He led the Bengals to the playoffs his first five seasons after they drafted him out of TCU in the second round in 2011, but never won a postseason game.

Dalton was released by released him in late April after Cincinnati drafted Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick, then signed with Dallas as a backup. He wound up playing in 11 games and made nine starts with Dak Prescott suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5. The Cowboys finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Dalton dealt with a concussion and COVID-19 last season. Now, at 33, he gets another fresh start in Chicago.

The Bears, who made the playoffs at 8-8 last season, are essentially starting over again at a position that has historically been a sore spot for the franchise.

Mitchell Trubisky was supposed to be the solution when general manager Ryan Pace traded up a spot to draft him with the No. 2 overall pick in 2017. But he didn’t develop the way the Bears hoped.

They declined their option for 2021 prior to last season and acquired Foles from Jacksonville to push their once-prized QB. Trubisky got benched in Week 3, returned to the lineup in Week 12 and agreed Thursday to a one-year deal with Buffalo to back up Josh Allen. Foles struggled in his seven starts last season.

Dalton said he’s looking forward to working with coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach in 2016 and offensive coordinator in 2017 and 2018.

He also said he has talked to several new teammates, though not Robinson.

“He can do so much, he’s so good when the ball is in the air, he can separate, he’s a complete receiver,” Dalton said. “He can kind of do it all. You love to see that.”

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