It’s a question seemingly as old as time itself: can the Chicago Bears finally get the quarterback position right? When your greatest drafted passer last took a snap 20 years before the merger, that’s a problem. The same goes for the fact that, in just eight mostly ho-hum seasons, Jay Cutler sits atop the franchise’s passing list is downright damning.
We’ve already taken time to address how precarious of a situation this is for the Bears. Giving Ryan Pace another crack at getting it right with him as desperate as he is doesn’t sound like a recipe for success. Both he and Matt Nagy are supposedly on their last legs. That’s moved the conversation in an interesting direction, including taking on another franchise’s headache.
The Starting Quarterback in 2021 Will Be…?
What Wentz Wrong
Carson Wentz is the biggest name being heavily linked to the Bears; at least so far. They aren’t considered serious players in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes that reportedly isn’t. Detroit was never going to trade Matthew Stafford in the division even if the reports of the Bears push for the quarterback are true.
But the Wentz rumors have persisted. This despite the quarterback’s reported locker room issues, salary, and performance from last season. He is said to not take criticism well and has instead placed blame on teammates and circumstances rather than the typical self-accountability we see from quarterbacks. And let’s not forget moving him would incur the largest dead-money hit in NFL history. What happened to “no turds”?
Then you get into his performance from the past season and things get even murkier. Pace and friends will certainly point out that, from 2017-2019, Wentz completed over 64 percent of his passes. Even more, he averaged a nearly 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio. They’d love for you to focus on his MVP-caliber play in ‘17 when he threw 33 touchdowns in just 13 games.
But the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league. Wentz’s most recent performance checked in even worse than one Mitchell Trubisky. How can the front office justify going after a quarterback who was demonstrably worse than the one they couldn’t wait to scapegoat? Add in that exorbitant salary and it’s easy to see why many fans are up in arms.
Bears Next Quarterback
So, if not Wentz, then who should the Bears be targeting in their latest attempt to catch up with the modern NFL? That’s a fairly tricky question to answer since there are still so many moving parts. But the scenarios range anywhere from trading for a quarterback, to trading up to draft one, all the way to Mitchell Trubisky donning the uniform again. Fortunately, it sounds like no parties have any interest in that last part.
That still leaves a bevy of mid to low-tier starters in the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston; though the latter is reportedly wanted back in New Orleans. We did the Teddy Bridgewater dance last season but it seems Carolina is at least open to moving on. You also have scenarios where the Bears act as a third-party to facilitate a deal for Watson which nets Chicago Tua Tagovailoa.
To put it plainly, none of those guys is the answer to the Bears quarterback woes. And, to be completely honest, if a passer is available in today’s NFL, chances are he’s not the guy. Of course, there have been many instances of busts from one team going elsewhere and flourishing. From Steve Young to the more recent case of Ryan Tannehill, also showing the range of outcomes from this.
One name that stands out as a potential success in the vein of Young and Tannehill is Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders. Carr has seemingly been on the outs with the Raiders since Jon Gruden took over. This despite Carr having the second-highest touchdown rate and third-lowest interception rate of his entire career. He even did his best to do away with the reputation for playing it too safe and living off of short throws by throwing for the most air yards per attempt in his career.
Avoiding the Draft
The most historically successful method of landing a franchise quarterback is to draft one. Of the final four teams in this year’s playoffs, only Tom Brady wasn’t playing for the team that drafted him. For Chicago, the issue is they currently pick 20th, where we have historically seen a lot of franchise passers taken. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any, though.
Who knows what will ultimately become of Jordan Love, but Lamar Jackson looks promising so far, right? Beyond him, there are a scant few names of highly accomplished quarterbacks but it’s chock full of relevant ones. The aforementioned Bridgewater, Aaron Rodgers, and a couple of Bears in Rex Grossman and Jim Harbaugh dot the list before the first current Hall of Famer, Dan Marino.
Essentially, there has been two Hall of Fame-type quarterbacks since 1983. To make matters worse, Marino is not only the first quarterback taken 20th overall or later to reach the Hall. He is the only one until Rodgers undoubtedly gets his someday. That’s quite the gamble to take with so much job uncertainty if you’re Pace.
That’s what makes trading up so appealing through the eyes of Bears brass. We detailed how easily Pace has burned himself in his quests to acquire talent. Chicago’s current situation is screaming for another move the caliber of Pace’s trade for Trubisky or the one he swung later for Khalil Mack. By the way, the latter deal would look much better had the first deal been correct.
Chicago Bears Still Searching for a Quarterback
We do this almost literally every year. A season with a good to stellar defense wasted by an inept offense. Well, now the defense has shown signs that those “elite” days might be behind them. That has to add pressure to Pace, Nagy, and whoever else is on borrowed time up at Halas Hall. But what will that pressure and desperation yield?
The results have been far from encouraging. You know about Pace’s history in the first round of the draft and free agency. But through, brace yourselves, collaboration, it’s possible the Bears finally get this thing right. Heck, even a garbage can gets a steak. Bears fans have to hope they can be as fortunate.
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