As the Chicago Bears once again prepare to dive into the market for a quarterback, the list of players who are going to be available is becoming clear. Which direction the Bears go depends on what, exactly, they are looking to find.
If the Bears are looking for a clear-cut new starter, there should be several options.
If they’re merely looking for competition, there are some good options there too.
If they’re looking for a new franchise-type quarterback, that’s unlikely. But last week may have opened an option there too.
Here is a quick look:
When Ian Rapoport goes on TV and specifically mentions the Bears as a team Cam Newton would be interested in, there’s a reason for it.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 10, 2019
It’s clear that Cam’s camp is already eyeing the Bears. And Cam has the power here. He can essentially tell other teams that he wants Chicago and only Chicago.
But the Bears side isn’t that clear. Why is Carolina so willing to move on from Cam when they don’t have a decent quarterback? Is Cam broken? If he can’t move like he used to, is he really that much of an upgrade? Those — and many more — are questions to be answered later, but all indications are that he is available and he wants to go to the Bears.
If it doesn’t work out, however, the Bears have a few more options. Most notable is Andy Dalton, who has already expressed that he wishes the Bengals would’ve traded him at the deadline. Like Newton, Dalton is entering the last year of his contract and hasn’t done much as a passer in recent years. Dalton would be significantly cheaper than Newton. Joe Flacco went for a fourth a year ago and Dalton should be even cheaper than that. Dalton is a QB who needs the wind at his back, so to speak, but the Bears could give him just that.
The best possible fit for a trade is Nick Foles, a quarterback who knows the coach, knows the offense and would be relatively cheap. The Jaguars seem invested in Foles at the moment, but they could change their minds in the offseason and go with young Gardner Minschew. Foles would still represent a significant cap hit for the team, but if Minschew is their guy, they’d still be better off moving Foles.
With limited draft capital and a weird investment in Trubisky, free agency seems like the most likely avenue the Bears will use to get their next quarterback.
Forget, for a second, about Drew Brees and Tom Brady. There are some plausible, interesting names.
- Teddy Bridgewater is the name most commonly brought up. The truth about Bridgewater is that he has always played like a backup, even this year, taking a high-scoring offense down toward the middle of the pack. That could be good enough for the Bears, but Bridgewater is likely to get a big contract, the kind of offseason mistake we see made every year. He’s a smart, accurate passer with decent mobility and an adequate arm, but he won’t be cheap.
- Phillip Rivers is another interesting name. At 38 and with no connection to Los Angeles, he might be interested in chasing a ring. Rivers is just a year removed from a 32-touchdown, 105-passer rating season.
- Case Keenum is another name to watch. Like Bridgewater, Keenum should have a good grasp of the offense after playing for another Andy Reid disciple in Pat Shurmur with the Vikings. Keenum is turnover machine, but could catch lightning in a bottle again.
- Ryan Pace’s draft crush on Marcus Mariota is much spoken about and he has a chance to grab the former Oregon player this offseason. Mariota, another failed second overall pick, could reunite with college coach Mark Helfrich, if Helfrich keeps his job. Unlike Trubisky, Mariota would be coming from a situation in which no favors were done for him.
- It should be expected that Matt Nagy will push for Alex Smith, who is likely going to be released, but Smith is coming off a catastrophic leg injury and will turn 36 in May. He can’t be seen as anything more than a flyer at this point, and that’s likely what his cost will represent too.
The likely Most Valuable Player of the league at this point went 32nd in the 2018 NFL draft, so anything is possible.
The Bears don’t have a first round pick, but it seems their own second rounder will be in the low-40s — possibly high-30s — which could be enough for them to make a move into the back of the first round to get a quarterback.
It’s early, but it seems there are two likely top-10 selections — LSU’s Joe Burrow and Oregon’s Justin Herbert — and a third in Tua Tagovailoa who is a complete wildcard, much like Jackson was.
Tua suffered a dislocated hip last week, which could prevent him from playing at all in 2020. Early reports are that he’s expected to make a full recovery, but it’s going to come up to each team’s medical staff. Teams don’t like taking medical risks on quarterbacks high in the draft. Tua’s “flaws” are more than the hip injury, he’s had various other injury issues, including ankle surgery while at Alabama. Some of the traditional NFL decision makers may also be scared off by the fact that he’s likely to measure under six-foot-one and throws left handed.
In the end, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tua dropped and, if that does happen, the Bears should pounce.
If not Tua, his former Alabama teammate Jalen Hurts, now at Oklahoma, certainly looks interesting. Hurts is turning in a great year as a sooner and figures to enter the draft as the latest of Lincoln Riley’s projects. Hurts has big game experience and the arm to make all of the throws, but his relative lack of success (which is weird because he threw 17 TDs and 1 INT as a sophomore at Alabama) early in his career means he could drop into the second round or later.
No draft pick represents a surefire answer, but if the Bears are able to sign a veteran, they could double up at the position.
The direction the Bears take likely hasn’t been decided and there’s a good bet that Pace and Nagy are going to butt heads about what Trubisky’s true potential is moving forward. GMs don’t ever want to give up on their quarterbacks, but Pace also has to know he doesn’t have time to waste and this is a rare offseason where some talented quarterbacks figure to be available.