If the Chicago Bears think they are going to improve on their own this season, they’re going to fade into 2019 irrelevance, just as they have for most of the last 30 years.
There isn’t an easy fix for these Bears, but with the trade deadline coming next Tuesday, there are a pair of big moves that could get them back on track and save what was supposed to be a Super Bowl season. And, if they can’t pull those off, there’s a third move that could make the future at least a little brighter.
Trade for Nick Foles
He isn’t necessarily the franchise quarterback the fan base has been longing for, but he’s at least competent. Foles is very likely the best the Bears can do at quarterback for the rest of this season. He knows the offense and has excelled in it. He’d bring instant credibility to the offense and knows how to get the job done at the highest level.
The 30-year-old has been on IR since Week One, but he’s slated to begin practicing this week, opening up a 21-day window for activation. We don’t know when, exactly, he’d be ready, but he could return in Week 10. It has generally been reported that he won’t be eligible to play until Week 11 but that, presumably, is because the Jaguars have a Week 10 bye.
The Jaguars would have to eat a lot of money in order to trade Foles, but they’d still have to pay that money and then Foles’ salary in order to keep him. With rookie Gardner Minshew playing well (10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions) the Jaguars likely will want to move on from Foles at some point.
The Bears would likely have to throw in a player in addition to picks — at least one second rounder and change — in order to get Foles, but it’s the best way to save the 2019 season. The unfortunate part is that the help might not come soon enough. The Bears would have to make the move by early next week, which means Trubisky would either start as a lame duck for a week or two — depending on how long it would take Foles to get healthy and acclimated — or the team would turn to Chase Daniel to play the Eagles and the Lions.
If they drop to 3-6, it’s highly doubtful Foles could save them. Then again, at least they’d have the 2020 quarterback situation figured out before the off-season and he’d still be a relatively cheap starter.
Trade for Leonard Williams
The Jets can’t figure out how to use a giant force of nature, but he’d fit right in with the Bears.
The impact of losing Akiem Hicks has been obvious as players like Tim Williams, Bilal Nichols and Roy Robertson-Harris have clearly shown they can’t hold up against the run and haven’t provided nearly enough pass rush.
Hicks being gone has killed the Bears run defense and has allowed offenses to completely scheme out Khalil Mack.
Something has to give.
Williams is basically a younger version of Hicks. In his career, Williams has averaged 16.25 quarterback hits and has 17 sacks. He’s 25 and will need a new contract after the season, but the Bears could accommodate that by moving on from Hicks — a soon-to-be 30-year-old with a bum knee.
Williams wouldn’t be cheap but, again, this would be using those future picks to fill a hole they’d otherwise have to fill anyway.
While it won’t fix the offensive issues, adding Williams should be enough to get the defense back to an elite level. With Hicks likely returning in Week 15, they’d have even more talent than they had a year ago for a playoff push.
Sell, Sell, Sell
Teams don’t like giving up, especially when they’ve gone all in for a Super Bowl. But when it’s this obvious the Super Bowl isn’t going to happen, and you don’t have enough assets to reload next year, it’s time to make a move. Examples?
- Perhaps, this is too NBA-ish but Danny Trevathan can help a contender and isn’t likely going to be back after this year anyway. If the Bears can get a fourth-round pick for him, why wouldn’t they?
- Prince Amukamara has one-year left on his deal, but nobody really expects him to play it with a $10 million cap hit at 31 years old. Prince has declined significantly this year, but still could help a DB-needy team — Philadelphia, perhaps?
It won’t go over well in the locker room, but if the Bears lose this week — and why would we expect anything else — this is surely best for the future of the team.
If the Bears want to stand pat, that’s fine. But they’re not going to win this year with this offense.