If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have proved one thing, it’s that the risk is always worth the reward at quarterback.
It’s easy to look back and say that signing Tom Brady was a no-brainer but tell that to the San Francisco 49ers, the team Brady wanted to go to. There were times when Brady looked flat out washed up over the last two years, but Tampa Bay still took the chance and gave him a two-year $50 million deal. If the decision didn’t work out, every person involved with making it would be finished in Tampa.
Signing Brady gave the Bucs hope. They went from 7-9 to the Super Bowl, with a 43-year-old quarterback who threw 40 touchdown passes during the regular season and seven more in the playoffs.
When it comes to acquiring quarterbacks, there are very few sure things. Jay Cutler looked like it as a 25-year-old Pro Bowler who had what was considered a magnificent season at the time. That 2009 trade didn’t work out quite the way the Bears wanted to, but its “failure” is no reason to be gun shy now.
While he had success, Cutler’s acquisition was as much about potential as anything. When it comes to Deshaun Watson, there is no wondering what he could become because he is already one of the five best quarterbacks in the league. If it takes four first-round picks, the Bears have to offer that. Quarterbacks of his caliber, at his age, don’t become available. Ever.
The other options are more uncertain. Dak Prescott likely won’t be available. Neither Aaron Rodgers nor Matt Stafford will be available to the Bears. Yet the quarterback carousel could still give the Bears an opportunity to grab a good player. Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo are two quarterbacks who are proven to be good, though the latter would require a solid backup as he simply can’t stay on the field.
We still don’t know for sure what the draft will offer the Bears, but if they miss out on Watson, Prescott or Carr, there’s a very good chance the Bears will be spending their first pick on the position. What they can’t do, however, is hope that a quarterback they like drops to them.
Three of the four teams playing last weekend made the playoffs the year before drafting their quarterback. Only one, Rodgers, dropped in the draft. Both Buffalo and Kansas City moved up to get quarterbacks they thought would change their franchises. They were right.
With five legitimate first-round quarterback prospects and a handful of good-to-great veterans potentially on the move, the Bears are in a much better position than many anticipated. Perhaps what will work out best for them is their aggressive GM — sometimes aggressive to a fault — is willing to do what it takes to get his player.
Now, Ryan Pace needs pick more wisely than he did last time.