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ATM: Wentz Might Be Best Option for Bears

| February 17th, 2021

The carousel.

While many are expecting the 2021 offseason to be a busy one when it comes to quarterback movement, it’s worth wondering if the current pause in the carousel just might be permanent and if the Chicago Bears need to find their guy soon.

The pause is because of Deshaun Watson.

While he has requested a trade and, reportedly, insists he won’t play for the Houston Texans anymore, the Texans are still without a real good reason to trade him. Perhaps refusing to trade Watson would look bad for Houston but in the long run, if they refuse to move him, Watson will have to either show up or retire. The latter option would likely mean repaying some of his signing bonus. All signs point to Houston not budging, at least for the foreseeable future.

If Watson isn’t moved soon, Derek Carr surely won’t be. The Raiders would be idiotic to move Carr without a surefire upgrade in place and it certainly appears they don’t see Marcus Mariota as that upgrade. The 49ers are also likely to stand pat with Jimmy G, though the latter likely wouldn’t be seen as a surefire starting option anyway, given his injury history.

You can bet Russell Wilson won’t be traded and the Packers have insisted they won’t move Aaron Rodgers. (He wouldn’t be available to the Bears anyway, but could cause another domino to fall.)

So, where does that leave teams like the Bears and the Colts?

Carson Wentz.

There’s no denying that Wentz had a horrendous 2020 season. But we can at least all acknowledge negligence on the part of the team for which he played. The Eagles had injuries throughout their offense, which had Wentz throwing to players who wouldn’t make most teams. Javon Wims likely would’ve been Philadelphia’s best wide receiver in 2020. They’ve survived with bad wide receiver play in the past, but it was coupled with horrendous offensive line play too. It would be hard to find a quarterback who could’ve survived those circumstances.

The team that trades for Wentz will be betting that he can return to the form he showed from 2017 to 2019. Wentz was ranked as the 11th best quarterback in the league on Mike Sando’s QB Tiers story that published last July.

Sando polled 50 current or former NFL decision makers to come up with the tiers and they ranked Wentz ahead of Dak Prescott (12th) and well ahead of Carr (20th) and Garoppolo (17th). I think that’s crazy, but it’s not like this was the opinion of just a handful of scouts. It was 50 high-level dudes.  Five thought Wentz belonged in the top tier. Sando did a follow-up in November and one voter offered this comment:

“I don’t know that anybody could completely overcome his situation,” a voter who placed Wentz in the second tier said. “It is one thing to have what Brady has had in his career — average receivers — but with Tom, those receivers were the same guys annually and from the start of the season to the end of the season, so you get in a rhythm. Carson went through training camp with one group of guys, and then these other schmucks ended up starting. Carson is not playing with real guys, whereas the guys Brady was playing with, yeah, they are not elite, but they are legitimate NFL receivers. Same with the guys Aaron Rodgers is playing with. These guys with Wentz don’t necessarily belong on teams.”

Then comes the discussion of cost. Reports of two first-round picks are absurd and the Eagles aren’t going to get that. But, for the Bears, they might not have a better option than to slightly overpay to make sure they get Wentz. And if the cost is something like two second-round picks, isn’t that well worth it for a QB who is capable of playing at an MVP level?

What are the other options?

All indications are that QB hungry teams are going to strike early in April’s draft. Would it be wise for the Bears to spend multiple first rounders to move up for a quarterback they is essentially a crapshoot?

The other option might be to save picks and sign from a better-than-usual group of free agents.

  • Jacoby Brissett might be the best of the group, but his former team still needs a QB and it doesn’t seem they’re even considering him. What does that tell us?
  • Fitzmagic is just good enough to get everybody fired. They might as well just stick with Nick Foles and spend resources elsewhere if that’s the plan.
  • Is Tyrod Taylor going to shake free from Los Angeles?
  • Sam Darnold is another name people like to throw out, but his best season isn’t much better than Wentz’s worst season and his cost isn’t going to be much less when you factor in the fifth-year option that a team will almost surely have to agree to if they give up anything of value for the Jets QB. (This wouldn’t be an FA, but it just feels like the same category.)

It’s a risk, but betting on Wentz returning to the form he has shown for most of his career seems like a safer bet than pretty much any of the other options. He’s not perfect. He’s closer to Jay Cutler than he is to Rodgers, but we have all seen the MVP-level ceiling. He might be good enough to buy the team time as they restock their assets and reload the supporting cast for a younger, cheaper replacement.

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