The Chicago Bears traded up to select Justin Fields with the No. 11 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday and the decision immediately raised eyebrows.
The Bears signed Andy Dalton in the offseason and were quick to declare him “QB1” on social media while also having Nick Foles on the team. The Bears quarterback room now features Fields, Dalton and Foles.
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Nonetheless, Bears general manager Ryan Pace insisted to reporters Dalton was the team’s starting quarterback.
“Matt [Nagy] has spoken to Andy Dalton tonight; that communication and clarity for us is really important,” Pace said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “Andy is our starter, and we’re gonna have a really good plan in place to develop Justin and do what’s best for our organization and win games.”
There could still be a chance Fields beats out Dalton for the starting spot.
BEARS DRAFT JUSTIN FIELDS WITH NO. 11 PICK PROMPTING CRITICISM OF ANDY DALTON ‘QB1’ TWEET
“We just have to let it play out,” Pace added. “One of the best feelings in the world would be, ‘Hey, we’re rolling, we’re playing really good football, we’re winning and we’re looking over there and we’re seeing this guy and we all know — everyone in the building knows — hey, we’ve got a guy.’
“As these guys come into this, even all the experiences they have at the college level, growing and watching tape, reading defenses, working in the huddle… It’s just so new for these guys, but it’ll be a daily process, a daily evaluation. But we’re excited to let that play out.”
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The Bears signed Dalton after he had spent one season with the Dallas Cowboys. He came into Dallas as the backup to Dak Prescott but once Prescott went down Dalton stepped in. The veteran had 2,170 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes in 11 games.