For all the off-season chatter that the Bears are just a wide receiver, real offensive line, and/or defensive end away from being a playoff team, we seem to have forgotten something: the Bears would have been in the playoffs if only they had a backup QB who could win just one game. One game! Thankfully, Phil Emery, Mike Tice, and Jeremy Bates have plenty of better-than-Hanie options on the free agency market. That said, getting a starting-grade backup at this most expensive of positions is going to limit the Bears' options when it comes to affording top-tier talent to fill our other positions of need. So, I put the question to you, WCG faithful: should we spend the coin on a real backup quarterback, or save the cash for someone who will do more than hold a clipboard?
Pros: Simply put, there are plenty of free agent options - even good ol' Rex Grossman! - who would probably be better than Hanie. By spending a couple million to lock down the backup QB spot, the Bears can guarantee that if Jay Cutler can't suit up that they can still field a team capable of scoring points. Also, if the Bears go out and get one of the more grizzled veterans, there's a good chance he'll have a thing or two to show Jay Cutler other than whatever Tice and Company put on the clipboard.
Cons: Real players cost real money. We know the Bears have a decent chunk of change to spend in free agency. Any money the team invests in a backup QB, however, might end up being paid to a very expensive bench-warmer. It's important to note that before the thumb-pocalypse, Jay Cutler had only missed one start in his NFL career. Also, it might be a tough sell to bring a starting-grade QB into Chicago as a backup: if they think they are good enough to start in the NFL, they would probably look for a team who would give them the chance to play for the starting spot.
Pros: For one, a Hanie-esque backup will free up more money for the Bears to spend. The team can go out and surround Jay Cutler with better offensive line talent to keep him out of harm's way, and perhaps even find a wide receiver who won't fall down on his route and force Cutler to make a season-ending tackle. Also, as the Packers have proven, a developmental QB who develops starter-level skills can fetch a nice price on the trade market.
Cons: The obvious problem is that a developmental QB will still have to, well, develop. As Hanie showed, one decent half in the playoffs does not mean a QB is ready to start in the NFL. And, as Nathan Enderle showed, sometimes, the developmental guy is so bad the team won't even let him see the field. If the team doesn't get a real backup for Cutler, they are essentially betting that Cutler will play all season or that Jeremy Bates can work miracles.
With that said, which option do you like? Should the Bears spend a couple million on a solid backup option to Jay Cutler, or roll the dice on an unproven commodity and hope Cutler can return to his healthy ways?