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Reports: Bears to Pursue Austin Hooper, Competition at Quarterback in Free Agency

Ryan Pace knows the tight ends position is a mess, and he intends on striking quickly with a 2-time Pro Bowl selection.

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NFL Pro Bowl
Will he be wearing orange and navy in 2020?
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Many people, critics, and members of the media have discussed the Chicago Bears’ quarterback position ad-nauseam. That sentiment remains true as teams and perspective free agents begin to have informal discussions during the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis, IN.

What if I told you that there is an equally large problem at another skill position on offense?

The production at their tight end position in Chicago has been underwhelming for several seasons now. With free agency set to begin shortly, Ryan Pace reportedly has his eyes set on arguably the best veteran expected to be available.

Per Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Bears are expected to make a run at Austin Hooper once negotiations can start.

For the offense to work within Matt Nagy’s vision, a productive player at tight end must be present. In all, the Bears’ tight ends mustered 416 receiving yards combined, and not a single player even touched 100 yards for the season. That production isn’t acceptable in today’s pass happy league.

Matt Nagy’s statements regarding his squad at tight end reflects some of those thoughts.

“This offense, a lot of it goes through the tight end,” coach Matt Nagy said. “We’re exploring every avenue.” - Matt Nagy, via Jason Lieser

Enter Austin Hooper, who’s individual production was nearly double in comparison to the entire depth chart in Chicago. Think I’m kidding? He recorded 75 receptions on 97 targets for 757 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Plus he’s dependable, only 25 years old, and has been relatively healthy for a majority of his career.

The Atlanta Falcons have already announced they plan on letting Austin test the free agent market. He also commented on his personal instagram account that he was told by management to, “hit the road.”

Signing the two-time pro bowl selection will cost the Bears a sizable fortune. This comes at a time where competition is expected/prayed for at quarterback by most fans, along with concerns at outside linebacker with players not named Khalil Mack.

Speaking about quarterbacks:

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have stated repeatedly that Mitchell Trubisky is their starting quarterback heading into the 2020 regular season. They’re not lying; Trubisky just so happens to be the only quarterback currently on their roster. By default he’s their starting quarterback.

At least until they add another one.

I’ve been a Mitchell Trubisky stan for quite some time. Even I realize it’s likely that competition is being considered. The Bears’ decision to wait until May to address Trubisky’s contract is a pretty strong suggestion that they’re not happy with his performance.

For context, free agency and the draft are wrapped up well before the month of May.

If there’s been one veteran QB to keep an eye on, here’s one from a well connected individual in the NFL media.

Derek Carr-to-the-Bears may no longer be as far fetched as some initially thought. The Oakland Raiders are rumored to be involved as major players in the Tom Brady sweepstakes. If they’re willing to go that far at quarterback, they’ll need to move on from Carr quickly.

Other names that are likely to be listed include Andy Dalton — Bill Lazor knows him quite well — and Nick Foles.

But wait, won’t that kill the Bears’ limited cap space? Premium additions at tight end and quarterback will be extremely expensive. However, a new development involving the ongoing CBA negotiations might be the catalyst behind Pace’s sudden aggression.

According to Brad Biggs the new CBA will provide all 32 teams with an additional $20+ million to spend towards their hard cap space. Currently the Bears project to have around $26 million after their latest slew of cuts. The new CBA will boost that figure to over $46 million.

The Bears are looking to revamp their talent level on offense. Landing Hooper and possibly an experienced quarterback would go a long ways to fixing their biggest problems.