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 Thursday. “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.
He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and in 2014 and 2016. He set several Bengals passing records, but in more recent years, the offensive line deteriorated. So did the cast around him. His results suffered, too, and the Bengals released him in late April after drafting Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick.
Dalton then signed with Dallas as a backup in early May. 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 Trubisky’s 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.
Dalton said he has talked to several new teammates, though not star receiver Allen Robinson. The Bears applied the franchise tag last week, and Allen signed the tender on Thursday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“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.”
Dalton also said he would have “no problem” with the Bears drafting a quarterback and would be a willing mentor.
“I think that’s kind of part of it,” he said. “I’ve been the starter and helped the backup throughout my career. I think it’s what you can do to help the next guy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.