The Chicago Bears found their answer at quarterback last offseason, when they selected Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The rookie had his ups and downs in his first year in the pros, but he ultimately showed a lot of promise. Because of this, it’s certain that the Bears won’t need to find a new starting quarterback this offseason.
However, they’re still going to need to make some moves at the position.
Trubisky is obviously going to be the long-term starter, but the Bears don’t really have any certainty behind him on the depth chart. Mike Glennon is almost surely going to be cut this offseason, and Mark Sanchez will be a free agent this March.
As we’ve seen in recent years, a backup quarterback can make or break your entire season. The Houston Texans looked like a playoff team when Deshaun Watson was healthy. When he got hurt, though, they found themselves finishing with a 4-12 record. When Tony Romo got hurt in 2015, the Dallas Cowboys fell apart because they didn’t have a good backup on the roster.
On the other side of that, though, Case Keenum led the Minnesota Vikings to a 13-3 season after starter Sam Bradford went down. Nick Foles also stepped up after Carson Wentz tore his ACL late in the regular season, and now the Philadelphia Eagles are in the Super Bowl.
Needless to say, it’s smart to have a good backup at your disposal. With that in mind, here are eight players that the Bears could consider to back up Trubisky in 2018.
Mark Sanchez, Chicago Bears
Let’s start with the player who’s already on the roster.
Mark Sanchez served the “third-string backup who the team wants on the roster to mentor their rookie but wouldn’t see any time on the field” role for the Bears this season. He has history as a starting quarterback, albeit not a very good one. He’s a smart player who will likely be kept on as Trubisky continues to develop. However, odds are the Bears will bring in another quarterback with whom they’d be more comfortable if their youngster were to get hurt.
Chase Daniel, New Orleans Saints
This connection just seems too easy.
Chase Daniel played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2013 to 2015. During that time, new Bears head coach Matt Nagy served as the quarterbacks coach on that team. That shared history alone would make him worth a look. Daniel started two games for the Chiefs during that time, winning one and losing one. He’s a smart player who can make good decisions and keep teams in games. Plus, Daniel excelled in a spread system in college at Missouri. Although that seems like it happened eons ago, it shows that he could be a good fit in Nagy’s West Coast offense.
Blaine Gabbert, Arizona Cardinals
In all honesty, the Arizona Cardinals are in a super confusing spot in regards to their future at quarterback. With Carson Palmer retired, the Cardinals have Blaine Gabbert, Matt Barkley and Drew Stanton on the roster at the position. Here’s the kicker: all three of those players are free agents. Gabbert stepped in for Palmer after his injury and did alright as the starter, so he’s the most likely of the current group to be brought back. However, if he hits the open market, then the Bears would be wise to consider signing him.
The second Missouri quarterback on this list, Gabbert played in five games in 2017, throwing for 1,086 yards, six touchdowns, six interceptions and completing 55.6 percent of his passes. Arizona went 2-3 in that span, and one of those losses came by five points. Although those numbers aren’t amazing, they don’t really have to be. After all, he’s a backup. Plus, Gabbert was sacked 20 times in his last three games. Although I can’t personally vouch for all of them being the offensive line’s fault, it obviously shows that there was some sort of an issue up front. Gabbert has a strong arm and is accurate on short passes, which Nagy will likely run quite a bit of. He would be a solid insurance option if Trubisky were to go down.
Kurt Benkert, Virginia
The 2018 NFL Draft’s quarterback class took a hit by the declarations deadline, as players like Jarrett Stidham, Ryan Finley, Drew Lock and Will Grier all decided to stay in school for another year. Those players were mid-round picks on my board, so that left a big gap in between the early-round picks and the late-round picks. While that’s bad news for teams look to snag a quarterback in late Day 2 or early Day 3, it’s great news for players like Kurt Benkert.
Benkert stands in at 6’3” and 214 pounds. He has a strong arm: his throws are delivered with a lot of zip, and he’s capable of making deep passes. He’s a good athlete and can throw on the run quite well. His throwing mechanics are solid, although his footwork could use some fine tuning. Benkert’s biggest flaw, though, is his decision making. He forces throws and stares down his target too much, making it easier for defenses to read him and break up a pass. He’s not the type of player who will start right away, but the Bears wouldn’t need him to. He has the physical tools to develop into a potential starter - or at least a high-end backup - down the line.
Mike White, Western Kentucky
Mike White has been deemed by many as one of the biggest sleepers in this year’s draft class. And for good reason, too: he has a lot of tools to be solid quarterback in the NFL.
White is probably the most physically developed soon-to-be rookie on this list. At 6’4” and 221 pounds, he has a very good frame for the pros. He has a strong arm, is poised in the pocket and has good touch on his deep throws. However, like some of the other draft prospects on this list, White has an issue with staring his targets down and forcing throws. He also isn’t a great athlete by any means. At the Senior Bowl, though, he displayed anticipation and the ability to read defenses that wasn’t completely on his college tape. The Bears could be able to snag White in Round 6 or 7 and develop him into a top-tier backup with time.
Luke Falk, Washington State
At the start of the 2017 season, many considered Luke Falk to be a candidate to sneak into the first round. Although he failed to build upon his solid 2016 campaign, there’s still room to believe that he could develop into a potential starter.
Falk is a tall, lanky quarterback at 6’4” and 211 pounds. He has a quick release and has good touch on a lot of his throws. For the most part, he makes good decisions and is a decent athlete. Falk leaves Washington State having thrown for 14,481 passing yards, 119 touchdowns, 39 interceptions and a 68.3 completion percentage in three full seasons as the starter. He isn’t great at noticing pressure in the pocket, and he doesn’t have a fantastic arm. In fact, NFL Network compared him to current Bears quarterback Mike Glennon, which is a comparison that I wholeheartedly agree with. I know that that sounds like an instant “nope” for most Bears fans, but Falk has a decent enough ceiling that he might be worth a shot on Day 3.
Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
Kyle Lauletta absolutely tore it up at the Senior Bowl, completing 66 percent of his passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. The Richmond quarterback won the Senior Bowl MVP for his efforts, proving that he can succeed against top-level competition.
At 6’3” and 217 pounds, Lauletta has a decent frame for the pros. He has a strong arm, has polished throwing mechanics and is elusive in the pocket. His ball placement is overall solid, and he’s able to run for a few yards with his feet if need be. He threw for 3,737 yards, 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2017 while completing 64.9 percent of his passes. Lauletta does occasionally lock in on his target, which causes him to make a bad throw. However, that’s a flaw that appears in a lot of incoming rookies. With good coaching, he could develop into a solid backup and a potential trade bait for the Bears down the line.