As I sit at my desk on the eve of Free Agency, I am forced to sit back and ponder the Bears’ current Quarterback situation. We all know the story of Jay Cutler and there is no need to re-hash that here. For the sake of this article, let us assume what most of us already do: The Bears are moving on from Cutler in 2017.
With Connor Shaw being the only other QB on the roster, I ask myself, "what would I do if I were Ryan Pace?"
First off, let’s quickly examine the options available to us:
· Re-Signing Brian Hoyer
· Re-Signing Matt Barkley
· Trading for Jimmy Garappolo
· Trading for A.J. McCarron
· Signing Mike Glennon
· Signing Colin Kaepernick
· Drafting Deshaun Watson/DeShone Kizer/Mitchell Trubisky/Patrick Mahomes II in the 1st Round
· Drafting Brad Kayaa/Nate Peterman/Davis Webb or another QB later in the Draft
That is a lot to sift through, even when we don’t consider keeping Cutler. Personally, I do not like to rank decisions or players specifically (i.e., 1, 2, 3…) but prefer to assign them "tiers."
For the sake of the argument, I am going to eliminate a few of the aforementioned players from the discussion due to past production, limited potential or outside factors. Kaepernick is not even an option for me. From the media circus to his performance regression, I just don’t like his game. Barkley is not an acceptable option either. Remember, this is an exercise in finding a "franchise quarterback" and my eyes tell me he is not that. Finally, McCarron is a guy that I did not particularly like coming out of Alabama and my thoughts have not changed to date.
That leaves us with plenty of options remaining for the Bears.
Tier 1 Quarterback scenarios:
Trading the 36th pick (2nd RD) in the draft for Garoppolo. I would be willing to give up a conditional 2018 pick as well, but nothing higher than a 3rd RD pick.
Coming out of EIU, I really loved his tape. After seeing him in the Senior Bowl I was convinced that the Bears could have the future Quarterback. Low-and-behold, he was passed over for Ego Ferguson, just 11 picks earlier. I thought he had enough arm, accuracy, quick release, great pocket awareness and just enough athleticism to make some plays with his feet. I don’t see why any of that would have changed with 3 years of learning under Brady and Belichick.
Drafting Trubisky with the 3rd pick (1st RD) and signing a veteran "bridge quarterback"
Trubisky is my personal favorite. In my opinion he is "head-and-shoulders" above the rest of the group in the draft. Due to his lack of experience and his college scheme, I do think he would be best-served to sit for a year. He has experience at UNC with coming into the game at a pre-determined point (his Junior year, he started the season taking every 3rd series until coaches scrapped that). I would like to see him get some time off the bench, working on 2 and 4-minute situations in games that aren’t necessarily in jeopardy.
Trubisky has the same sort of arsenal coming out of college that Garoppolo did: arm strength, accuracy, pocket presence, athleticism. Heck, he just looks like an NFL Quarterback.
In this instance, Hoyer would be my veteran QB. He understands his role and he has said that he embraces the role of mentor. The best part would be that he would sign for relatively cheap. I am thinking 2/$10M with $5M guaranteed, all in season 1, would get the job done.
Tier 2 Quarterback Scenarios:
Trading back in the 1st RD and Drafting Watson/Kizer/Mahomes and signing a veteran "bridge quarterback"
For the record, I am not a fan of Kizer. He has "bust" written all over him and the absolute ceiling to me is Jameis Winston. I think you have to do better than that.
Mahomes is a guy that is either out of the league after his rookie contract or one of the biggest stars in the NFL. Total boom-or-bust prospect.
Watson is the exact opposite. I think you are looking at a player similar to Alex Smith or Tyrod Taylor. His floor is high but his ceiling is low. A pretty safe pick but not a bad choice out of these 3.
As for the bridge, I would still go with Hoyer in this scenario.
Signing Glennon and Drafting Kayaa/Peterman/Webb in the 3rd to 5th RD
For the record, I am not enamored with Glennon. I thought he was a solid prospect coming out of NC State and I think that he still has some upside as a starter. In this scenario, the Bears would need a competent starter for probably 2-3 years, while the aforementioned Draft Pick learns an NFL offense, cleans up mechanics and footwork.
This also give the Bears the opportunity to take another swing next year when the QB class looks to be better at the top.
Although, I wouldn’t want to sign Glennon for his rumored price-tag ($15M AAV). Assuming that I could sign him for something like 3/$30-$33M or 4/$40-$45M with $15M guaranteed, all in the first 2 seasons, this would be a reasonable plan to me. That way, his contract should be a non-factor by the time a young QB should be pushing for playing time.
Tier 3 Quarterback Scenarios (Or, please don’t do this to me Ryan Pace):
Drafting either Watson or Kizer #3 (1st RD).
I think 1st RD is just too high to draft a developmental QB, which is how I view both, especially with the amount of top-tier defensive talent sitting there. As Pace has said, the Bears don’t expect to be in this position for a long time, so you cannot miss with that pick.
Signing Glennon to a Brock Osweiler-type deal.
This would absolutely hamstring this organization financially for the foreseeable future. There are plenty of roster holes to fill without making a mistake here. Remember what Pace recently said at the combine: "You can always recover from the player you didn’t sign. You can’t recover from the player you signed at the wrong price." I truly hope that he holds to that philosophy.
What would I do if I was in Pace’s shoes right now? I would take my shot with New England and try and trade for Garoppolo. If the price is too steep, I call Brain Hoyer and tell him he is going to have a new pupil.
The QB position is too important to strike out on, but are any of the aforementioned Quarterbacks worth the price? In 3-5 years, we will find the answer to that question.
For me, the moves that Pace makes in Free Agency will be telling and may shape the future of not only his career but also the future of the franchise itself.
2017 is an important year for the Bears and I, for one, am going to sit back and enjoy the ride.