Yesterday we had a WCG round table question asking if we thought the Chicago Bears should have drafted a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft. We were all in agreement that when considering the state of the franchise in 2020, and considering where they were drafting, that taking a QB early wasn’t the best use of their draft capital.
But some of us were wondering why they didn’t bother getting a guy on day three or as an undrafted free agent.
Now I know what some of you guys are thinking, ‘Day three and UDFA QBs are never going to be franchise saviors!’ And for the most part, that’s correct, but the NFL is full of late round and undrafted quarterbacks that serve as back ups. Some teams have even been able to develop these unheralded signal callers and trade them for draft picks, or at the very least, developed them and allowed them to sign away for a shot at a compensatory draft pick.
Chicago general manager Ryan Pace, who once said it’s a good idea to draft a quarterback every year, has only done it once. In fact, he’s only brought in two undrafted rookies during the offseason as well.
Baring an unexpected move, Chicago’s top two quarterbacks are set in stone for the 2020 season, and as of right now they’re seemingly content to roll into the year with 28-year old Tyler Bray as their QB3. The new CBA has granted an opening for Bray — a 7-year veteran — to be on the practice squad again, but at this point in his career his ceiling has been identified.
There’s no reason for the Bears to ignore rookie quarterbacks right now.
Here’s a list of the undrafted or late (5th, 6th, 7th) round quarterbacks that served as their teams QB1 or QB2 in 2019, and yes I get that some of these guys aren’t very good. That’s not the point. Again, it’s not about finding a franchise quarterback, it’s about finding a back up that could turn into something else for your franchise.
Brett Hundley, Cardinals (5th round)
Kyle Allen, Panthers (UDFA)
Chase Daniel, Bears (UDFA)
Tyler Bray, Bears (UDFA)
Garrett Gilbert, Browns (6th round)
Cooper Rush, Cowboys (UDFA)
Brandon Allen, Broncos (6th round)
David Blough, Lions (UDFA)
Tim Boyle, Packers (UDFA)
A.J. McCarron, Texans (5th round)
Brian Hoyer, Colts (UDFA)
Gardner Minshew II, Jaguars (6th round)
Matt Moore, Chiefs (UDFA)
Tyrod Taylor, Chargers (6th round)
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (7th round)
Luke Falk, Jets (6th round)
Trevor Siemian, Jets (7th round)
Tom Brady, Patriots (6th round)
Devlin Hodges, Steelers (UDFA)
Nick Mullens, 49ers (UDFA)
Ryan Griffin, Buccaneers (UDFA)
Case Keenum, Redskins (UDFA)
Again, we’re not talking rocket science, we’re talking Football 101 by drafting (or signing) and developing assets. This is a QB driven league, so if you aren’t consistently putting time and effort into that position then you damn well better have an ELITE quarterback room.
The Bears do not have that.
Look over that list of quarterbacks above. How many of those players have been traded and/or allowed to walk as free agents to benefit the comp pick formula? Why can’t Ryan Pace and the Bears sign and groom a number three QB to benefit them in the same way?
There were several UDFA quarterbacks that the Bears could have pursued after the 2020 draft ended. At last count there were 13 of them signed. Guys like Tyler Huntley from Utah signed with the Ravens, Anthony Gordon from Washington State ended up with Seattle, Steven Montez from Colorado went to Washington, the Rams signed two QBs, Virginia’s Bryce Perkins and Josh Love from San Jose State, the Buccaneers signed Reid Sinnett from San Diego, and the 49ers signed Naperville’s own and North Central College’s Broc Rutter.
If franchises with Tom Brady (The G.O.A.T. QB) and Lamar Jackson (The MVP) at the helm can look for a needle in a haystack, they why can’t one that has had quarterback issues since Sid Luckman do the same?
But who knows, maybe the Bears tried to sign an undrafted free agent and they were out bid or their pitch just wasn’t good enough. Then again, if they didn’t want to compete with the other 31 teams for those players they could have easily used one of their 7th-round picks on a quarterback.
The only reason I could see the Bears stubbornly sticking with their pattern of not getting a rookie quarterback is the COVID-19 pandemic. That situation has already altered the scheduled OTAs and camps for teams, so the Bears may be content with not having to coach up a third or fourth quarterback this year. With three quarterbacks in the fold that already know the offensive terminology, passing on a youngster until 2021 has to be their plan.
That’s assuming that Pace has a viable QB plan.
He threw big money at one quarterback — which was a smokescreen — but that guy couldn’t even make it to week five. He just declined the 5th year option on his first round draft pick, and we have to wait and see how the QB he traded for pans out, so it’s safe to say that for now, his track record on finding a quality starter is poor.
In fact, his track record on quarterbacks in general is pretty poor. Check out all 18 QBs he’s signed in some capacity during his six offseasons on the job.
03/06 - Jimmy Clausen
05/03 - Shane Carden (UDFA)
05/11 - Pat Devlin
09/01 - Zac Dysert
09/17 - David Fales
11/24 - Justin Worley
12/08 - Matt Blanchard
05/02 - Brian Hoyer
06/09 - Dalyn Williams (UDFA)
07/01 - Connor Shaw
09/05 - Matt Barkley
11/15 - Josh Woodrum (UDFA)
03/10 - Mike Glennon
03/24 - Mark Sanchez
07/19 - Mitchell Trubisky (Draft)
03/14 - Chase Daniel
03/16 - Tyler Bray
03/31 - Nick Foles
Not a lot of excitement in that group.
Some of those players were waived and re-signed by him, and others only made it as far as the offseason roster or practice squad, but there’s not a lot upside in that group. Only four (Glennon just signed with the Jaguars today!) of the first 14 guys Pace signed are still even in the NFL.
The 15th QB he picked has the physical skills to thrive in the league, but he’ll be playing on what is essentially a one year prove-it deal in 2020. If it doesn’t click for Trubisky this year he’ll be riding someone else’s bench in 2021.
The 16th guy just signed with the Lions on three year, $13.05 million deal, and according to Over The Cap Daniel’s contract should net the Bears a 6th-round comp pick in 2021.
Bray, Pace’s 17th QB, will likely play as Chicago’s third stringer/practice squader for another year before eventually leaving, and the Bears will have nothing to show for it.
At least the last quarterback that Pace picked up, the 31-year old Foles, has enough experience in a similar offense to give some hope for the next few years. The best case scenario is he’s able to stabilize the offense and run it efficiently enough to get them closer to the 12 win 2018 team. The worst case scenario is him being a backup for a couple years while the team takes another swing at a franchise quarterback in the draft.
Whether or not Pace is the guy taking that next big swing will be predicated on how they play in 2020, but regardless on when they target a franchise QB they damn well better start bringing in young prospects to work with.