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Chicago Bears Mailbag: Leonard Floyd, quarterbacks, and more

The Windy City Gridiron mailbag is back in action, just over a week away from the start of the new league year. You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers!

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a disappointing (8-8) finish to close out the 2019 NFL season, the Chicago Bears are among 32 teams that will kick off the new league year in just over a week. On the top of the team’s priority list will be the quarterback position. Whether that’s truly veteran competition for fourth-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky or whether that’s a big move that will land them a long-term starter, has yet to be seen.

Even so, the Bears have plenty of other decisions and moves to make over the next month or two and that all starts (technically) on March 18th, with the start of the new league year. It remains to be seen if the league and NFLPA will agree on a new CBA by that point. While it won’t hold up the new league year, it could impact the Bears in terms of cap space. So that will be something worth monitoring.

With less than a week before the start of the “legal negotiation period”, we are here to answer your questions in this week’s Pre-Free Agency mailbag.

Over the next few weeks, the quarterback position is going to be the talk of the majority of Bears fans and rightfully so.

Not only does the team have a clear need for competition, at the least, but n my personal opinion they should take advantage of the flooded quarterback market and take another swing at their “franchise” starter. That should come via trade or free agency, however it’s not likely through the draft considering their lack of draft capital.

There are a few primary free agent options out there and Teddy Bridgewater is at the top of that list. Along with the soon-to-be former Saint: Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill headline the likely top end free agents. Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum, Nate Sudfeld and Jeff Driskill are lower level names that could be brought in for competition at a cheaper price, if budget becomes an issue.

The reality is simple- Even with Kyle Long’s retirement and a few minor moves, the Bears would only be sitting around $30 million in cap space, barring a new CBA. That means it’s going to be really hard for them to “afford” one of the top names, but Bridgewater would make the most sense in terms of age and likely price.

With that being said, I think the Bears are likely to go in a cost-controlled direction, which likely means a cheaper veteran free agent or (more likely) a trade. I’d keep a closer eye on Andy Dalton and Derek Carr.

I may be in the minority here (at least in the circles that I’ve spoken to), but I don’t see Dalton doing a whole lot for this team. In 2019, the Bears were an (8-8) team with one of the worst quarterbacks in the league (statistically). Dalton’s 2019 wasn’t much better, and while a change of scenery may do him some good, he’s never been more than an average quarterback with good weapons around him.

So let’s just say they trade for or sign Dalton, I’d say a two-win jump in 2020 could be realistic. That likely lands them a Wild Card spot and either a first round exit or a playoff win.

For me the reality is quiet simple, the Bears are a good quarterback and a solid off-season away from being back to a Super Bowl contender. I don’t think Dalton gets them there, regardless of what else they do this off-season.

Ideally, Trubisky would respond to the competition, win the job and turn his career around. In a perfect world, that would happen. In a realistic world, that’s not very likely at all. If Dalton is the move, they’ll call it a competition, but head coach Matt Nagy will go with the better quarterback (Dalton as of 2019) from Week 1 and on.

Keenum looked pretty damn good in his one year under Pat Shurmur. Outside of that, he’s been below average to put it nicely. When comparing him to someone like a Dalton, I feel they are somewhat similar, but even Dalton has more of a track record.

It’s a shame that the Bears couldn’t land Shurmur as their offensive coordinator because I do think this pairing could have made a lot more sense and gave me more comfort in taking that chance.

I wouldn’t exactly rule out Keenum by any means, but much like Dalton, I have doubts Case helps this team enough to truly make a difference. Keenum’s one year of good play also concerns me a little. While I wouldn’t rule him out as an option, I do think the Bears have a few priority targets that will rank over him in the coming weeks.

From everything I’ve read and heard, it appears that Allen Robinson will be a team priority to lock down. Regardless of quarterback, he is the team’s best offensive player and I’m not even sure it’s really close at this point.

Robinson has stated on multiple occasions that he would like to finish out his career in Chicago. Mutual interest obviously helps when trying to hammer out a new deal.

If I had to guess, I would assume Robinson’s extension would be somewhere in the realm of four years and roughly $16 million or so per year. The guarantee will be a little more interesting, but I would guess a final contract would fall in the vicinity of (four years, $64 million with about $40 million guaranteed). Keep in mind, that $40 million in guarantees would fall into this year’s structure as well. So, there would still be a somewhat safe “out” in his contract heading into the final year or two of that new deal.

It’s wild to think about, but he’s still just 26-years-old and appears to be stronger than ever, despite coming off of the ACL tear back in 2017. Either way, keeping Robinson is a must for this team.

The short answer is he would help them in the compensatory pick formula, but when looking at the Leonard Floyd situation, it’s a complex one.

As most know, the Bears picked up his fifth-year option last season. He’s due a whopping $13.22 million and it’s sounding increasingly likely that Pace and the Bears aren’t willing to pay him that. Which I feel is completely justifiable, given his overall production.

Floyd is an above average player that is well-rounded. The issue is that the team traded up two spots at No. 9 overall to take him, yet he has not had one year of over 10 sacks. Last season, at least in that department, was his most disappointing.

With all of that in mind, the likelihood of Floyd playing on the fifth-year option — Which must be decided on before the start of the new league year on the 18th of this month — doesn’t appear overly high.

One way this could play out is that they’ll flat out rescind the option.

If they do that, he would factor into the comp pick formula. As we know, it’s not as cut and dry as allowing a top-end free agent to leave and receiving a comp pick for him (see Bryce Callahan). If they do go this route, my guess is that he’ll sign with another team in a similar price range over a three-to-five year period. That would tremendously help the Bears in their quest for compensatory picks, but would not guarantee them one. It would all come down to the potential of a new CBA and also how the approach free agency. Remember, it’s a checks and balances type of game when it comes to compensatory picks and this is the first time since 2009 the Bears have had a compensatory pick.

The second option is that the Bears could be looking to trade Floyd before March 18th. If they do so, I’m not sure they would see a big return on him, despite what he would get on the open market.

Which ever team that would trade for him would have to weigh a few different things.

  1. Is the cost of a trade on top of a new contract worth the price?
  2. What exactly is Floyd looking for in a new deal?
  3. Does this team feel like Floyd will have a big enough market that it’s worth giving up draft capital to secure their target?

Trades in the NFL are never taken lightly. Floyd’s value probably isn’t sky-high, but I could see a team giving up a fifth or sixth round pick to secure his rights. While that may not help the Bears out a ton, it’s still another pick that Pace could have in his arsenal to wheel and deal in next month’s draft.

The other thing to ask yourself is this- Would the Bears be better off taking a safer approach in free agency, rescinding the tag and seeing a third or fourth round compensatory pick in 2021 for him? While they would have to wait a year and have a clear free agency plan, it could give them better draft capital than what they’d likely get if they traded him within the next week.

I do think that this is probably the less likely of the options, though. Followed up closely by Floyd actually signing a team-friendly extension.