It’s no secret that the Bears are in the market for a quarterback. There’s already reports that the Bears will be adding competition (or a veteran presence who can make Mitchell Trubisky sweat at the least).
And unlike most years, it would appear that there are a load of quarterbacks that are going to hit the market. But everyone knows what the trade and free agency market is like: overpaying for something that very often doesn’t work out.
Last year the Bears’ comp was the Rams: That in the second year of the system their young quarterback would take the next step with their young playcaller and make a deep run in the postseason.
When that didn’t happen, the comp has become the Titans instead: In a do-or-die season for a first round quarterback with a killer defense, the Bears should find their Ryan Tannehill, the veteran that ultimately came in, relieved Marcus Mariota and led the team to the AFC Championship game.
So how do the Bears find their Tannehill and avoid landing a Nick Foles?
My colleague Robert Schmitz decided to appeal to one of my other hobbies, cars, for help in this way — Robert challenged me to come up with used car comparisons for each quarterback that the Bears are most likely to be interested in, or that fans are interested in.
Robert is chiming in with his take and a little breakdown on each quarterback and I’m providing the car comparison. We’re also adding a value: what we think it would take, both in draft capital (for trades) and contract ballpark to get each quarterback. Shoutout to our colleague and fellow car geek EJ Snyder for helping solidify a couple of the comparisons.
So this is the Schmitz-Householder Kelley Blue Book Used Quarterbacks Guide. Remember, buyer beware and always get a pre-purchase inspection.
- Derek Carr
The Car: A Toyota 86 (also known as the Subraru BRZ and Scion FR-S) - an entry level sports car most everyone agrees is good. But it’s not as good as it could be and car fans have been begging for more power upgrades for years.
The Player: If you evaluated Carr on his physical tools alone, you’d think he’s a much better QB than he is – with one of the fastest releases in football, an arm that throws 60+ yards with ease, and more mobility than meets the eye, Carr’s physical ceiling is that of a bona-fide stud. But mental issues hold him back, namely his post-2016 aversion to getting hit, his hit-and-miss pocket sense, and his inability to read the whole field (more detail coming in an upcoming breakdown). Carr is a good quarterback, and he’ll captain your team well, but the imbalance between his physical tools (“what he could be”) and his production (“what he is”) will doubtlessly frustrate his fans.
Price: As high as a second round pick, but if the Raiders bring in someone else, it’s going to lose its negotiating ground.
- Andy Dalton
The Car: Mazda 6 Touring - Looks and feels sporty, it’s done the canyon carving in the twisties but now it’s settled into its true self: a family sedan that looks just a bit flashier than the neighbor’s car.
The Player: It’s easy to forget that a 27-year-old Andy Dalton led the 2015 Bengals to an emphatic 10-2 record before an untimely injury derailed his MVP-hopeful season. The guy is not the awful QB he’s made out to be lately, and his play became the NFL quarterbacking benchmark for a reason – Andy Dalton is good when his team is good, and bad when his team is bad. He doesn’t elevate his teammates beyond their usual level of play, but he doesn’t hold them back either. He doesn’t handle pressure well, but he also won’t miss open layups. If your team is talented, Dalton can help you. If not, pick someone else.
Price: A late round pick
The Car: Well-worn BMW M3 - great performance car when it was new and sure, you can still get that top flight performance out of it, but the maintenance is going to be a real headache and keep it in the garage more than you’d like.
The Player: SuperCam is a superstar, there’s no questioning that, but after two major surgeries in recent years and an NFL career that has subjected his body to over 1,200 extra hits via rushing carries, it’s fair to wonder if Newton will ever return to his former glory. If he does, you’ve got a great quarterback on your hands at a relatively affordable price. If he doesn’t, you may have moved money and draft capital for a clunker. Newton’s situation gets especially interesting if his new team tries to wean him off of his hyper-physical brand of play, but with only $2 million guaranteed left on his contract his trade value is likely lower than you’d think.
Price: This depends largely on when he’s traded – if a team wants him before or during Free Agency, the Panthers could get as much as a Day 2 pick. But as the draft comes and goes, Cam’s trade value could slip into Day 3 or force an outright cut. If cut, expect him to sign for $24 million APY, likely unguaranteed.
- Josh Rosen
The Car: New Acura NSX - Was hyped, supposed to be the next great sports car, but once it came out hardly anyone wanted one and is now forgotten about. Might be great, but no one ever really sees one.
The Player: Josh Rosen flits between talent and turmoil on a snap-to-snap basis. Sometimes he shows off above-average pocket play and gorgeous touch passing, and sometimes he has no idea what he’s doing. Is he just another bad, overdrafted top 10 QB that will soon bust out of the league? Or is he a misused talent that hasn’t been able to overcome horrific environments around him? I personally think it’s the latter, but his trade value is likely in the cellar either way.
Price: It’s been hit with depreciation, hard and it’s likely that the dealer just wants to move it’s current stock, so a late round pick (5th-6th)
- Case Keenum
The Car: Dodge Charger - It’s long in the tooth, but it can still turn in a decent performance in the right situation but in its base form, it’s just another car
The Player: Case Keenum has had an up-and-down journey in the NFL, to say the least. He’s gone from playing terribly on a bad 2013 Texans team to playing well on the 2017 Division Champ Vikings to now playing better-than-you-probably-thought-he-did for backup money in Washington, and that list leaves out three of his other stops! Keenum is a pocket-warrior QB that lacks the arm talent to make high-velocity throws, thus necessitating solid offensive line play around him and receivers willing to either get themselves wide open or make plays on contested balls in the air. He’s comfortable in noisy pockets and, for better or for worse, will throw the ball downfield – from there, it’s up to his offensive line and receiving targets to determine how those throws shake out.
Price: Cheap. $5 Million or less.
- Tom Brady
The Car: Vintage Ferrari - It’s a one-owner, it’s been babied and well-cared for but now, you’re inheriting a car that will cost a ton to buy, a ton to maintain and there’s a risk of very expensive engine-out repairs that could end the whole deal.
The Player: Do you really need a scouting report for Tom Brady? Touchdown Tom is an NFL icon and the winner of not one, not two, but SIX Super Bowl titles. While flashier quarterbacks have come and gone, Tom has been a consistent reminder that pairing a lightning quick release with impeccable defensive understanding wins games and scores points in the NFL. Even at 43, Brady didn’t look like he slowed down in 2019 – instead, it seemed as if the receiving weapons around him couldn’t fill the game-breaking defensive gap that Gronkowski left when he retired. Even so, Father Time is inevitably going to knock on Brady’s door… the question, of course, is when.
Price: Two-to-three years, $30 million APY, half guaranteed.
- Teddy Bridgewater
The Car: Honda Accord - It’s not flashy but it gets results. Low-key one of the better cars out there but it just doesn’t blow anyone away with it’s numbers. It just gets the results.
The Player: Teddy Bridgewater, from what I can tell, is the best game manager currently on the market. A lot of people view that moniker as an intrinsic negative, but I don’t think you should – Teddy is athletic, smart, and accurate with the football when operating within the bounds of his offense. He’s not going to blow the doors off anyone’s record books, and he’s likely not going to do a ton of creating on his own, but in the right system and with the right talent around him (like Sean Payton’s offense with Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas) he can make the throws his offense needs to put points on the board. He’ll be expensive, but in the right fit he could be worth it.
Price: 3-4 years, $26 APY, minimum 2.5 years guaranteed.
- Nick Foles
The Car: Alfa Romeo Guilia - When it works, it works well, some might even say, at an elite level, but it’s inconsistent and was in the shop recently.
The Player: Like Keenum above, Nick Foles is a journeyman quarterback that fits well inside very specific offensive parameters – Foles actually has a very quick release and reads defenses well, but isn’t particularly mobile and lacks the velocity to throw low-trajectory passes downfield with success. As we saw in the Eagles’ magical run to the Super Bowl, this skillset fits well in a west-coast Reid-like offense, but as we also saw in Jacksonville, it’s not a fit for everyone and didn’t work well in a play-action passing attack. This means that Foles has a fairly niche skillset, and when you combine that with the fact that he’s a QB over 30 that just suffered a broken collarbone and has about $40 million stretched out over three remaining years on his contract, his value should be quite low. We could be looking at the next Brock Osweiler situation
Price: Anywhere between a 6th round pick sent away to JAX sending a 3rd or 4th rounder along with Foles
- Philip Rivers
The Car: Third owner Corvette - It’s been absolutely beat on, but it keeps going. You might have to rebuild the whole thing or you might get one or two more fun years out of it.
The Player: Since 2006, Philip Rivers has started an outstanding 224 games for the San Di-Los Angeles Chargers. He’s had an incredible career that’s seen him throw for over 4,000 yards in an outstanding 11 of his 16 total seasons, but in his 2019 campaign specifically he showed more signs of age than ever before. Rivers’ never-say-die attitude was still everything it used to be, but his big arm was not — passes that he used to be able to easily place over defenders’ heads became nasty interceptions throughout last year, and both his INT total and INT% suffered because of it. But while his arm and physical skills may be fading, he’s still a future hall of famer, and some team will likely bet that Rivers can summon his former glory for one final, magical year.
Price: 1 year, $22 million
- Alex Smith
The Car: Rebuilt-titled Jeep - It has its legions of faithful fans and it’s been around a long time and been a reliable, but unspectacular ride. But now, you don’t know what you’re getting because it was a flood car: it could be a really good deal if it’s been sorted or it could break down before you get off the lot.
The Player: Due to the horrific injury that Alex Smith suffered in 2018, Smith has gone from being one of the biggest “knowns” in football to a total unknown just two years later. Having undergone an incredible 17 surgeries to repair his leg, it’s fair to wonder what the 35-year-old Smith’s pocket presence, field vision, and accuracy are going to look like after a full two years away from football. If he somehow returns to his 2017/2018 level, he could certainly help a team out. If not, however, the $32.2 million guaranteed dollars remaining in his contract will hang heavy on his future team’s cap. If he comes back to football, even takes one snap under center, his comeback story will be truly incredible. His trade value will not be.
Price: WAS would likely give up a 4th-6th rounder to offload Smith’s contract
- Jameis Winston
The Car: Dodge Viper - Powerful, fast but unrefined and a brute force. You can have a lot of fun with it, but if you don’t know how to reign it in, you’re both going to end up wrapped around a telephone pole.
The Player: Jameis Winston is…. well, the guy’s a wild ride. I mean, we’re all aware he threw both 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions last year, right? If all you did was watch his season highlight tapes, you’d probably think the guy was a top four QB in the league – he’ll make incredible plays where he breaks as many as 3-5 tackles from the pocket before launching a gorgeous ball downfield for yardage that leaves you asking “how could this guy be bad?” But almost as soon as you think that, he’ll make some cataclysmic reading or throwing error that usually ends in a turnover and sets his team back. Add in his off-field antics, and the 25-year-old former 1st overall pick is a bit of an enigma – is he a star talent that just needs Lasik surgery and a bit more coaching? Or will he always be the guy throwing as many picks as he does touchdowns? I lean towards the latter, but I’d be lying if I said I was sure.
Price: Honestly, anywhere from $22-$24 million APY (if he starts) to $7-$10 million APY (if he’s backing someone up).
- Marcus Mariota
The Car: BMW i8 - Highly rated when it came out but all its done is disappoint. The performance wasn’t where anyone wanted it but now it’s cheap from depreciation and maybe the new owner can unlock some of its potential or at least enjoy it for what it is.
The Player: As a quarterback, Marcus Mariota leaves a lot to be desired. Though many were originally excited about the former Oregon Duck’s potential, his four years in the league have seen him fail to clearly progress as a defense-reader and ultimately lose his starting job to Ryan Tannehill, who immediately took Mariota’s struggling 1-3 Titans on an 10-5 run that culminated in two massive playoff wins. Considering the struggles Mariota had throwing deep, his penchant for taking sacks, and the success his team enjoyed without him, I think the former #2 overall pick will find himself valued as a backup this offseason.
Price: 1-2 years, $7-$10 million dollars APY