As has been well documented over the last 35 NFL seasons or so, the Chicago Bears have struggled to find a franchise quarterback who can keep them in contention year in and year out. While Jay Cutler had some decent years with the team, the general thought is that the team has not been “set” at the position since Jim McMahon, who played for Chicago in the NFL back in the mid 1980s.
Mitchell Trubisky has been rocky at best in his four NFL seasons, and is usually one of the first names that comes to mind when fans think about signal callers being benched. Additionally, the meteoric success of 2017 NFL Draft classmates Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson has the raised the bar to heights that the young quarterback may not ever reach.
Since the rest of the roster remains pretty talented, Chicago will not want to lose out on contending in the NFC in the near future, and will be probing the quarterback market very closely in hopes of upgrading the position in 2021. Here are 5 names the team should target:
5. Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Carson Wentz
It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz are both ready for a change of scenery. It was reported that a trade was imminent right after the Super Bowl ended, but nothing has happened as of yet.
It looks like the Eagles might not be receiving the offers they had initially hoped for when they decided to trade the former number 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
This would be the perfect time (if Wentz continues to remain on the Eagles, maybe wait a few more weeks) for the Bears to initiate talks with the Eagles. If Philadelphia realizes that their best offer, albeit reduced, might come from the Bears, they’ll have to think long and hard about accepting it.
In addition, the Bears don’t have anyone on their roster who has the potential to deliver a season like Wentz put together in the 2017 NFL season before his injury. While current Bears quarterback Nick Foles did lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots, it appears unlikely that he’ll be able to put a run like that together with Chicago.
4. Las Vegas Raiders' backup quarterback Marcus Mariota
Mariota’s run with the Tennessee Titans was largely disappointing, and ended with him not being able to hit wide open receivers down the field, even with Derrick Henry being arguably the best play-action weapon in the NFL.
However, he’s only 27 years old. A year out of the spotlight might have done him some good. While he’s similar to Trubisky in the sense of his dual threat skillset, Mariota has a little more NFL experience under his belt and might be ready to lead Chicago back to the playoffs. He’ll also cost a lot less from a compensation perspective than Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz would.
3. Miami Dolphins' veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
There are so many names in the NFL quarterback market with seemingly more talent and higher upside than Ryan Fitzpatrick. But given his play with the Miami Dolphins the past two NFL seasons and the disparity in offensive fluidity when he was on the field versus a younger counterpart, it's an attractive alternative for Chicago.
Fitzpatrick did a great job with a Miami team that lacked talent and could slide into a Bears team that could lose Allen Robinson in free agency. They could use someone who could make a play off-script and unconventionally like the former Harvard grad could and would not be a bad stopgap under center.
2. Former NFL MVP Cam Newton
At this stage of his NFL career, it doesn’t look like Newton has much left in the tank as a passer. But as a rusher and general playmaking asset, he could be worth a look for the Bears at a discounted flyer rate to be their starting quarterback.
If the Bears did bring Newton in, it probably wouldn’t be as a full time starter—head coach Matt Nagy would have to find ways to creatively use him. But picturing a red zone formation with Newton at quarterback alongside starting RB David Montgomery and the versatile RB Tarik Cohen (who should be back by the start of 2021) would still be unnerving for opposing defenses.
1. New Orleans backup quarterback Jameis Winston
This could possibly be the highest upside play for the Bears, and it wouldn’t cost them any draft picks like the Eagles would demand for Wentz. Winston has been a glorified turnover machine in his NFL career but still has a ton of talent as a pure passer and would be a great acquisition for Chicago.
Having spent a year rubbing elbows with quarterback Drew Brees and Sean Payton in New Orleans, Winston is as good a bet to bounce back from prior struggles as any veteran quarterback out there. He’ll probably want the security of a multi-year deal, but the Bears should consider investing that in a quarterback who could once again top 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a starting role.