Although the quarterback position and Mitch Trubisky, in particular, are two of the hottest buttons in Chicago sports today, believe it or not, it is not the Bears’ greatest need this offseason.
No one is suggesting the situation isn’t dire, that this is anything but a make-it-or-break-it year for Trubisky or that the Bears don’t desperately need talent in the pipeline to develop and a much more capable backup than Chase Daniel, preferably a player who also can push, and perhaps even compete with, Trubisky.
All of that is absolutely true.
But the bottom line is the Bears are going to do everything they can in 2020 to take one more run at making Trubisky the man, any rookie or youngster they bring in will be a developmental prospect targeted to compete a year or two down the road, and a new veteran backup only will get his chance if Trubisky fails badly during the offseason and exhibition season.
But the quarterback position is definitely a puzzle at best for the Bears right now and a problem at worst.
So how did it come to this?
2019 matter of fact: Bears fans apparently have short memories.
Trubisky took a quantum leap forward in 2018 compiling a modern era Bears season record 95.4 passer rating for quarterbacks with 10 or more starts, a 66.6% completion percentage, a 7.4-yard average a pass, a 24-to-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio, rushing 68 times for 412 yards and touchdowns and going to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
The problem today is 2019 was a season in which Trubisky took one of the greatest moonwalks since Michael Jackson, dropping to an 84 passer rating, 63.2% completion percentage, 6.1-yard average a pass, 17 TDs versus 10 interceptions, and his rushing fell off to 41 carries for 248 yards and two TDs, while also raising serious questions about his ability to read the field and handle the off-the-field spotlight.
Cap commitment: The Bears are projected to be about $21 million under the salary cap entering the new league year, according to Spotrac, and Trubisky carries a $9.24 million cap hit for 2020. All of it is dead cap space, but he represents only 4.3% of the Bears’ salary cap, an extremely low number for the position.
Prince Amukamara, Taylor Gabriel, Adam Shaheen, Charles Leno, Allen Robinson, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks and Cody Whitehair, to name a few, could either be cap casualties – Amukamara, Gabriel and Shaheen – or have their deals redone to create even more space.
Offseason need (1 highest, 5 lowest): Based on his 2018 season and the organization’s continued commitment to Trubisky, although quarterback is a serious need for the Bears, it is not as important as tight end, safety and inside linebacker, where they are without enough starters, and left tackle, where Leno’s performance last season was even worse than Trubisky’s.
But the need is real, so let’s call it a 2+.
Available prospects to watch: Free agents Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers aren’t coming to Chicago, and even if there was a chance, although you’d love to have Brady or Brees in any offense, none of the three is a great fit for Nagy’s scheme.
Dak Prescott, Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Tannehill could be great competition for Trubisky, but Prescott will be franchise tagged in Dallas if they don’t come up with a long-term deal, and they all are going to command more on the open market than the Bears can afford.
Free agents to watch are Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum, Jameis Winston and Blake Bortles.
It is just too early to know how QBs will stack up in the draft, but early indications are Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Jake Fromm and Jordan Love could be options with one of the Bears’ two second-round picks, although I’m betting Herbert and Hurts will go sooner.
Anthony Gordon, Nate Stanley, Steven Montez, Bryce Perkins, Kellen Mond, Cole McDonald, Brian Lewerke, Jake Luten, Tyler Huntley, Shane Buechele, Khalil Tate, Riley Neal and Blake Barnett are a bunch of Day 3 or priority free-agent names to keep an eye on depending on who comes out and who stays in school.