Introduced to the media via a 22-minute Zoom call Thursday, new Bears quarterback Andy Dalton exuded confidence, excitement and an eagerness to make the most of an opportunity he vowed not to take for granted.
One day after agreeing to a one-year contract, Dalton revealed that the Bears have assured him that he'll be their No. 1 quarterback. It's a guarantee that helped convince him to pick Chicago over other potential free-agent destinations.
"They told me I was the starter," Dalton said. "That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. Every conversation I've had has been that, so that's the assurance that I've gotten. I had several options and I felt like this was the best fit for me … When you hear that you're going to be the starter, that's an enticing pitch."
Dalton, 33, joins the Bears having started 142 games over 10 NFL seasons with the Bengals (2011-19) and Cowboys (2020). He has completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 33,764 yards with 218 touchdowns, 126 interceptions and an 87.5 passer rating. He has also rushed for 1,335 yards and 22 TDs.
Dalton was selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2011 draft (35th overall) out of TCU. The 6-2, 220-pounder helped led Cincinnati to the playoffs in each of his first five NFL seasons, twice as the AFC North Division champions and three times as a wild card.
Dalton was voted to the Pro Bowl in three of his first six seasons in 2011, 2014 and 2016. He established career highs with 4,293 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2013 and a 106.2 passer rating in 2015 when he threw for 3,250 yards with 25 TDs and seven interceptions.
The Bears also appealed to Dalton because he feels they're headed in the right direction, boasting talent on both sides of the ball.
"This was definitely the place I wanted to be," Dalton said. "So I'm glad this whole thing worked out. In talking about all the reasons I wanted to be here, you look at this roster and it has a great mix of veteran leadership and a lot of young talent.
"At this point in my career, you want to join a team that is competitive, that is doing things the right way, is trending in the right direction, and to get a chance to come in and start for a team like this, that's a great opportunity for me and for my future and my career and everything."
“When you hear that you’re going to be the starter, that’s an enticing pitch.” New Bears quarterback Andy Dalton
Joining the Bears also gives Dalton the chance to reunite with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who served as Bengals quarterbacks coach in 2016 and offensive coordinator in 2017-18.
"Bill and I have a great relationship," Dalton said. "I really enjoyed my time working with him. It wasn't just him as a coach; it was him as a person, him as a friend. I think that's going to make this whole transition here a lot easier just because we have this past relationship. We kept in contact throughout the years, even when he wasn't in Cincinnati. I'm excited to get back to working with him and seeing what we can do offensively."
Dalton is well aware of the less than enthusiastic reaction his acquisition by the Bears elicited among fans and media.
"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 going to 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 going to 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 characterizes himself as a hard worker and seasoned professional who will provide leadership on and off the field.
"I'm a guy that brings a lot of experience, that played in a lot of games, that has done a lot in this league," Dalton said. "That's a big part of it. [But] it's not just about the game of football. It's bigger than that: the impact we can make with this platform we have, getting involved in the community and all the different areas of it, and for me, being a great teammate, doing everything I can to help this team, this city and bring a lot of excitement.
"I'd love for this to be the last place that I play. I'd love to finish my career here and get established. For me, this is the second half of my career. I want to play really good football. I want to help this team win a lot of games. I want to bring some excitement to this city. I think that's just kind of where I'm at and what I'm looking forward to."
Take a trip inside the Bears' facility as QB Andy Dalton visits the building on his first day after being acquired by the club.