In a podcast interview with Pro Football Focus’ Chris Collinsworth, Bears HC Matt Nagy said no initially when asked if there was a possible scenario first-round QB Justin Fields starts in Week 1 over Andy Dalton.
Matt Nagy is committed to Andy Dalton as the starter in Chicago.
— Cris Collinsworth (@CollinsworthPFF) June 15, 2021
“Andy is our starter and Justin is our number 2 and we are going to stick with this plan… You just got to trust the plan,” Nagy said via Daniel Greenberg.
Nagy did hedge somewhat by adding there are obviously a lot of things that can happen between now and Week 1, but the Bears’ messaging on this subject has been consistent the entire offseason: they have promised Dalton the starting job and that has not changed with drafting Fields.
First-round quarterbacks don’t tend to stay on the bench long historically but Nagy was a part of one of the few exceptions with the Chiefs.
Nagy’s position is unusually definitive for a coach in June so it will be interesting to see how it holds up once training camp starts.
Fields, 22, began his college career at Georgia before transferring to Ohio State for the 2019 season. He was a two-year starter at Ohio State and a first-team All-Big Ten selection as a junior. The Bears drafted Fields with pick No. 11 overall.
Fields is projected to sign a four-year rookie deal worth $18,871,956 with a signing bonus of $11,085,059. The Bears will have a fifth-year option to pick up on him in 2024.
During his junior season at Ohio State, Fields completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 2,100 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions in eight starts. He also rushed 81 times for 382 yards and five more touchdowns.
Dalton, 33, is a former second-round pick of the Bengals back in 2011. He was entering the final year of his seven-year, $97.09 million contract, which included $17 million guaranteed when Cincinnati cut him loose.
Dalton stood to make a base salary of $17.5 million in 2020 when the Bengals opted to release him. He later signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys after the draft.
The Bears later signed Dalton to a contract this offseason.
In 2020, Dalton appeared in 11 games for the Cowboys and completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 114 yards.
We’ll have more on the Bears’ quarterback situation as the news is available.