It's become naive to hope the Bears will draft a quarterback every year, as GM Ryan Pace is so infamously on record as saying. The trite line about watching what Pace does, not what he says, applies just as much to his draft plans as it does his quarterback competition, or his defensive end analysis.
Before the Nick Foles Revolution was even a whisper, the Bears' desire to take a QB in the upcoming draft had been well-trodden territory. Jake Fromm and all his Georgia Bulldog Intangibles seemed like a nice fit. There was a convincing argument to be made for Jalen Hurts, especially as players like Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson continue erasing the stigma of dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL. Jacob Eason might be a trendy answer on Remember That Guy in five years, but right now he's just a trendy answer for the team's late round dice roll.
Drafting a quarterback made more sense this year than in years prior simply because the Bears just don't have as many under contract anymore. Chase Daniel got paid – again! – by the Lions, and will be backing up Matt Stafford/giving Detroit intel on Nagy 201 for the next three seasons. And nothing against Tyler Bray personally, but keeping a 28-year old vet as the practice squad QB doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Fast forward a few weeks, and now Nick Foles is on the roster. It certainly seems like a move of this caliber would affect draft plans somehow. Just how much the front office pivots is the gray area worth exploring. So after a sufficiently-buried lede, what's the answer?
The answer, as is tradition, is a wildly underwhelming mixture of both. Will this affect the Bears' immediate draft plans? Yes, probably. In a perfect world, would the Bears still be looking as adamantly for the longterm fix at QB? Also yes, probably.
This is the mess you inherit when you miss on franchise quarterbacks. The free agent quarterback market is a sad place to be; Teddy Bridgewater, the second-best QB available, went to a team that's reportedly going to spend the season tanking in order to draft Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. Hell, Foles is only a year removed from being the darling of the market and grabbing $50 million guaranteed. Good QB's rarely, if ever, hit the open market because smart teams move mountains to make sure they don't. Which is why, in theory, the bandaid that is Nick Foles shouldn't have much of a bearing on the team's macro planning.
And yet, every move Pace has made this season indicates the type of win-now attitude that excludes drafting the QB of the future with precious early-round draft capital. Say Jordan Love falls into the Bears' lap, and they take him with their 2nd-round pick (no. 43). Does that mean we've got a three-way competition for QB1 come July? And if not, where does Love – or whoever you'd want to plug into this hypothetical – fit on the roster? Stashing a second-round pick with upside on the practice squad while Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles duke it out is the type of optics that can cause riots.
So yes, ideally the Bears draft at the most important position with at least one eye on the future. But the team's contention window is right now, and it's hard to imagine the Bears' draft strategy looking entirely antithetical to their free agent approach. Most everything in the NFL comes at a cost, and that includes a win-now mentality.
How the Nick Foles trade will affect the Bears' NFL Draft plans originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago