Bears quarterback watch: Why a big move is likely this offseason

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Adam Hoge
·4 min read
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Hoge: Why Bears will make a big QB move this offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

If you’re trying to set expectations for what the Bears might do at the quarterback position this offseason, you might want to consider what transpired in 2017 – and, of course, hope for better results.

In 2017, Bears general manager Ryan Pace embarked on a major overhaul of the quarterback position. Everyone knew about it, and yet, when it was over, there was still plenty of surprise.

We spent a few months pondering the future of Jay Cutler, even though the writing was written on the wall in Sharpie. And we spent months – even going back to the fall of 2016 – studying the quarterbacks in the NFL Draft, yet were still somehow shocked when Pace drafted Mitchell Trubisky No. 2 overall.

Of course, the $45 million contract handed to Mike Glennon in March of 2017 contributed to that surprise, but Pace very clearly showed he was willing to go all-in – both with money and draft capital – on fixing the Bears’ quarterback problems.

Four years later, those problems still exist. But Pace was granted a do-over by ownership, and this time, he has Matt Nagy alongside him. In 2017, Nagy was in Kansas City, part of the group obsessed and intent on landing Patrick Mahomes.

There is a growing expectation in league circles that the Bears are going to make a big move at the quarterback position and there are many reasons to believe that will come to fruition.

For one, Pace’s and Nagy’s jobs depend on it. Pace knows his tenure as GM is defined by what happened in 2017. He’s getting a second chance, so there should be no question about his motivation to get it right this time.

As for Nagy, do not underestimate his role in what is shaping up to be an unprecedented quarterback derby across the NFL. Nagy is a former quarterback who has spent his entire NFL coaching career working with quarterbacks. He takes tremendous pride in the position. And he’s only linked to Trubisky because he chose to accept a job that included Trubisky as the starting quarterback, but he did not draft the former No. 2 overall pick.

But what about Nick Foles?

Foles was never acquired to be a long-term solution for the Bears. He was a much-needed Plan B in 2020, with the ability to be a fairly paid backup quarterback in 2021 and 2022. And that’s most likely what Foles will be next season.

As distance is created from the Bears’ playoff loss to the Saints, a clean break from Trubisky is becoming more likely. It’s not exactly apples-to-apples to Cutler’s departure from Chicago, but the Foles acquisition indicated the Bears were already prepared for life without Trubisky, just as Pace’s interest in drafting Marcus Mariota in 2015 and Carson Wentz in 2016 served as precursors for what eventually happened in 2017.

Let’s make this perfectly clear: Quarterback is the top priority this offseason. And while it may have looked like the Bears might be limited to options like Jacoby Brissett and Tyrod Taylor, the landscape has quickly changed.

All quarterback discussions begin with Deshaun Watson and there are many reasons to believe the Bears will be major players if the star Texans quarterback is traded. Pace’s history in trading up for Trubisky and trading for Khalil Mack serve as proof that he has the stomach for such a bold move and Nagy’s position in the equation might be just enough to land the Bears on the list of teams Watson is willing to join.

But the conversation just begins with Watson. Then it moves to Matthew Stafford. And then it moves to a long list of teams – I count 21 – that at least have doubts about the future of their quarterback position. The trickle-down effect could impact players like Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff, Derek Carr, Sam Darnold, etc. The Dak Prescott situation remains unresolved too.

And we haven’t even gotten to the NFL Draft. A “big move” isn’t limited to just trades and free agency. Expect the Bears to be heavily involved in scouting this year’s quarterback class. If Pace and Nagy have conviction on BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance or Ohio State’s Justin Fields, there are ways to move up in the draft. Don’t forget that the Chiefs originally held the 27th overall pick in 2017 and the Texans held the 25th overall pick.

The point is this: don’t rule anything out. You should expect that the Bears will be exhaustive in evaluating free agents, trade candidates and draft prospects over the next three months.

The quarterback movement in the NFL could be wild. And the Bears will be right in the middle of it.

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