Today, we round out our reaction round table with discussions on the Nick Foles trade, Trubisky’s leash, and the perilous purgatory of Chicago quarterback futures.
How do you feel about the Nick Foles trade and contract now that Trubisky has been named the starter?
Lester Wiltfong: I understood the Bears picking Foles over the other QBs that were rumored to be available at the time. With the pandemic going on they needed a guy they could trust to run the offense with limited practice time. I was never on board with giving up a 4th-round pick, and the re-worked contract seemed to give the player more power then a player usually gets, but that’s a big reason I figured the team was ready to go with Foles as the QB1. It’s not an awful contract for a QB2 that has starting experience, but with hindsight it sure seems like the Bears could have saved money and a draft pick by getting a different veteran signal caller.
Patti Curl: I’m okay with it. I get all the criticisms, but I also understand why the Bears felt he was the guy that they wanted. Of course I wish they had paid less in draft capital and salary, but I understand the perspective that you pay what you have to in order to get the player that will be best for your team at the most important position in sports. Odds are, even if for injury, Foles will start at least one game this season, and he’s certainly a huge improvement over Case Keenum.
ECD: It’s whatever. A 4th round pick for a high end, and well paid, backup QB is bad value on paper. There were free agent options available that could have been better. I was even a fan of drafting a QB and seeing what happens. Regardless, not getting competition that your coaching staff demanded was not an option.
It pays to have a dependable “Plan B” at QB. Nick Foles is a complete upgrade over Chase Daniels. If things get tough for Trubisky, then Foles is still available to come off the bench. This isn’t as bad as people make it out to be.
Josh Sunderbruch: Typical Ryan Pace. He tried to cover one of his mistakes by borrowing against the team to make another questionable decision.
Jack R Salo: You’re paying for one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league, and your starter hasn’t played 16 games in a season. They could be worse off.
Robert Schmitz: Suffice to say I like it a whole lot less. The Bears needed every draft pick they could get last year, so when they traded a 4th round pick to take on Nick Foles and his now $24M incentive-laden contract I figured he must at least be the future starter — instead, he’s now on the bench “waiting for his turn” while we trot out the same personnel as last year plus Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, and Germain Ifedi. If the Bears even had the slightest inkling that they’d be playing Trubisky to start 2020, they should’ve signed a cheaper backup option like Case Keenum, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, or Matt Moore. All of these options would’ve been dramatically cheaper than what the Bears paid for Foles and could still offer starting experience from the backup slot without costing your team it’s 3rd highest pick in the 2020 draft, but instead we paid a premium for a player that, while I personally still like his fit in the offense, won’t be starting until Mitch Trubisky loses a game he shouldn’tve. As usual for Ryan Pace, it’s bad process that stems from bad valuation.
Ken Mitchell: I was never a huge fan of the trade but I’m not worried about the contract. Bottom line is we needed a guy like Foles last year, somebody who could have taken over when Mitch needed to be replaced and run with the job.
Sam Householder: The same. I don’t think it was smart to give up a draft pick, but the money just kind of is what it is. I think that Pace didn’t want to replace Trubisky, he just wanted to push him and have an actual competent replacement when it goes awry (which it will). If he had actually been interested in turning the page he’d have pursued Cam Newton or Teddy Bridgewater (which he might have, if you believe the rumors).
WhiskeyRanger: Foles was a little pricey, but after the restructure, it’s not backbreaking for a guy brought in to compete for a starting job. He’s 23rd in yearly salary among QBs not on a rookie contract, right between Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum, and 20th in guaranteed. Less than ideal for a backup, but it is what it is. Was he worth the compensatory 4th rounder they gave up to get him? I don’t know. He was pretty valuable to the Eagles as a back up, so time will tell.
Jacob Infante: I admittedly didn’t like the Foles trade when it first happened, simply because I thought it was an overpay to trade a fourth-round pick for a mediocre quarterback with limited upside, especially in a year where the Bears had little draft capital. The contract restructuring made me feel a little bit better, considering they weren’t taking on his entire massive contract from Jacksonville. Now that he’s on the bench, though, it makes me question why they even paid that steep of a price for somebody who wasn’t going to win the job anyway. Cam Newton and Andy Dalton are both currently on cheaper deals than Foles and wouldn’t have cost the Bears a draft pick - and since both players were cut, they wouldn’t have counted against the compensatory pick formula. Both of those quarterbacks likely would have given Trubisky more of a fight than Foles ended up giving. While I guess it would feel a little bit better if Trubisky truly does improve and the Bears see better quarterback play after undergoing a battle at the position, I’m not sure if that happens, meaning the Bears would have given up a decent amount for a backup to a bad quarterback.
Jeff Berckes: I was vocal in the moment about my displeasure for the move. It never made sense to surrender an asset to a team desperate to move on from Foles and his contract. The Bears gave Jacksonville a gift. If Pace was willing to sit back, he could have had his choice of Newton, Dalton, or, I’m convinced, Foles on the open market. I thought the move was desperate and will have consequences down the road.
How long is Biscuit’s leash and (when) do you expect him to get yanked for Foles?
Lester Wiltfong: Considering the Bears open up with two teams he’s looked decent against (Lions and Giants), he may get the confidence he needs to get him over the hump. But if we see him taking unnecessary sacks, or misreading RPOs, or locking onto his primary receiver, or failing to run when he has a lane to get yards, or just playing tentatively, then Nagy will make a move.
Patti Curl: I’d say it’s a medium length leash but there’s also an electric collar. In this metaphor, the leash is the patience the Bears will have for bad throws or failed execution. The electric collar is what will shock Trubisky right to the sideline if he makes too many bad decisions or fails to run the plays as designed.
ECD: Mr. Biscuit’s leash will not only be Incredibly short. It’ll be held firmly by the coaching staff; moreover, they will pull it once Trubisky starts placing the team in a position to lose. This won’t be like last year when the team kept digging its own hole deeper before halftime even arrived.
Since Trubisky has won the competition, I do not expect him to be benched. I do; however, expect a very tense “don’t eff this up” vibe on offense all season. Once he does, he’s been warned. And he’ll be replaced swiftly.
Josh Sunderbruch: Not very long, and I expect him to get yanked as soon as Nagy and Pace think doing so will help save their jobs.
Jack R Salo: The Bears start the season against the Lions, Giants, and Falcons, units ranked 26, 30, and 23 in 2019 in terms of points allowed, respectively (according to Pro Football Reference). The “eye test” will be more important than the stat line, but I don’t see how the Biscuit gets away with anything worse than a 1:1 TD-INT ratio and close to 1000 all-purpose yards in those winnable games. Otherwise, let Foles get a chance against Indianapolis before he has to try to outduel Tom Brady in week 5.
Robert Schmitz: I may be in the minority here, but I actually think Trubisky’s “leash” could be as long as 8-9 games — I have NO idea how they’re going to grade their young signal-caller, but going by last year’s example in Tennessee Marcus Mariota had to play about 3.5 “bad games” before he got pulled in favor of Ryan Tannehill. The Bears’ 2020 schedule is easiest up front, so there’s a decent chance that Trubisky could string together good enough performances against Detroit, New York, Atlanta, and Indianapolis to justify a bad day against Tampa Bay and a middling day against Carolina (which they could win anyways). If this happens, I think the QB change happens after bad days against the Rams and Saints, but that assumes he performs well against the early slate of games. If he doesn’t, the change will come earlier and the Bears will have to fight to make up lost ground.
Ken Mitchell: I’d say immediately it’s a very short leash (because if he sucks against Detroit, a team he has absolutely owned, then that’s just that). If he makes it through the first two games OK then the leash will be much longer. I’m not saying either of those games will be easy, there are no easy teams in the NFL, I’m just saying they don’t have the worlds strongest defenses.
Sam Householder: Short, like real short. I think he gets at maximum four games to show he’s taken another step, but if the offense remains stagnant, they’ll go to the bench.
WhiskeyRanger: Uh, medium length I guess? I don’t expect him to get pulled at the first sign of trouble, but if he plays poorly a few games in a row, Foles will get the call. As far as if I expect him to get pulled, I honestly have no expectation whatsoever. I truly do not know what 2020 has in store for Trubisky, and I don’t even have a prediction. I just don’t know with him at this point.
Jacob Infante: I expect Trubisky’s leash to be similar to that of Mike Glennon back in 2017. If he plays at a decent level and wins two, maybe three of the first four games of the season, then I would expect the Bears to keep him under center for however long they stay competitive. If they start off the year below .500 through the first four through six games, then Foles could get the nod.
Jeff Berckes: Two bad performances in a row? Three? I don’t know to be honest but I would have to think there’s a sense of urgency now with this coaching staff to stack wins. If Trubisky doesn’t play well and you believe Foles gives you the better chance to win as he gets more comfortable with the system, make the move, but at this point, you have to have the mentality that Trubisky is the guy going forward.
If Trubisky isn’t the answer, what do you think is the best path to getting a Bears quarterback Chicago can be proud of?
Lester Wiltfong: It’s best for the franchise if he balls out in 2020 and proves he’s The Man, but if he falters, then I’m afraid this team is too good to be in the range for a top draft pick in 2021. If Foles gets a shot and can’t do it either, then this team will hover near .500 and be forced to either swing a big trade for an established franchise guy, or pony up some big cash in free agency. This defense is simply too good to keep sending out crap offenses.
Patti Curl: Oof. This is the probably biggest reason why I am rooting for Trubisky to pull it together. The Bears defense will keep them in the second half of the draft, and it’s rare to find quality quarterbacks past the first few picks. Please nobody point out that Mahomes and Watson were both drafted after the first few picks. It will always be too soon.
I think realistic options are a veteran with a high floor and low ceiling (e,g, like Derek Carr when the Raiders give up on him) or a low-probability dice roll in the draft. The one fantasy I’ve had is that Trey Lance lasts late enough for the Bears because he doesn’t have a chance to build on his great 2019 season and the Bears bet on him and he works out, but his draft stock seems to be steadily rising out of the Bears’ expected reach.
ECD: Okay, I know people will disagree with me here. But the decision to trade up for “their guy” at QB in 2017 was the right decision in theory. They just picked the wrong guy, on paper and results-wise at least. The Bears had previously been a franchise reluctant to trade up and develop their own guy from scratch. They needed — and still need — to swing at a guy they believed in as THE answer at QB.
That’s why I would suggest the Bears prepare themselves to draft a QB they believe in. If it means mortgaging future picks to get that guy, do it. At the same time, do not tear the team apart just to take a guess at who’ll be the best QB available. To do a rebuild just so a rebuild happens is the worst mistake sport teams make.
The trade market is always a possibility, too. Keep bugging the Raiders about Derek Carr, for example. Free agency, on the other hand, doesn’t look great next year. Bridge QBs are the biggest waste of time and resources in my opinion. If you bring in a veteran, do so with the intent on surrounding them with the best talent available.
Josh Sunderbruch: Having a competent quarterback evaluator be in charge of drafting for the Bears and having that person be in a position to draft in the top 12. So I think it’s at least two years out.
Jack R Salo: It’s always going to be the draft. Teams very rarely let quarterbacks “to be proud of” go play for another team, at least until the quarterback is past his prime. Specifically this year? Try not to suck. If you suck, suck hard and maybe Justin Fields falls to you (Trevor Lawrence is off the table, folks). If you don’t suck, but yet Trubisky isn’t the answer, then draft a quarterback anyway and hold another competition between Foles and the new guy.
Robert Schmitz: This is a funny question, if only because getting a “quarterback Chicago can be proud of” shouldn’t be near as hard as we’ve seemed to make it — the Chicago Bears, as most know, have never even had a 4,000 yard passer in their history as a franchise and are the only franchise in the NFL to have not had one yet. In this vein, there are a lot of options that could bring pride to Chicago from under center: an aging Aaron Rodgers, an overpriced Dak Prescott, or an underwhelming Derek Carr could all fit the bill, but a newly-drafted 1st round pick could do so as well. I think the best path forward is to draft a QB in 2021 that fits Nagy’s offensive identity and to do the best you can from there, but we’ll have to see how the 2020 season plays out before we make any assumptions about who will be doing the drafting.
Ken Mitchell: You can order a Sid Luckman jersey from the Bears Pro Shop. Or wait a few years and hope the guy we draft next year in the first round pans out.
Sam Householder: Well we’re all going to die some day and none of this will have mattered. As long as we’re still alive though, the Chicago Bears will never have a competent quarterback, I’m convinced. Can’t happen, will never happen.
Now that I got that out of my system: Outside of a disaster season that lands them another top three pick to get a crack at a top prospect it will take another future-mortgaging trade up, ideally, in a situation where a top prospect slips, like how KC got Patrick Mahomes. If it’s the former scenario, it means that Pace and/or Nagy will be fired, which is a shame because this franchise will be going through another reset and that’s just bad organizationally and if it’s the latter scenario, then Pace is once again on the hook for a desperate move up to make up for past mistakes and at some point don’t we have to say that we’ve seen enough of that show?
WhiskeyRanger: With the defense likely being a top 10 unit yet again, the Bears are unlikely to see anything resembling a top pick in the 2021 draft regardless of how Trubisky plays, so Trevor Lawrence is out. Taking a bet on a mid-first round QB is always risky, especially in a class that seems to have so many question marks. Trey Lance is interesting and could be available, but he also carries some of the same lack of experience that Trubisky brought with only 1 year as a starter, plus whatever winds up being played in 2020. So I’d say finding someone in the 2021 draft isn’t super likely (but obviously not impossible). Looking past the draft, I don’t know, maybe a trade for Derrek Carr? Chucky doesn’t seem enamored with him, and he could make for a solid starter with upside in Chicago. At 29 he’s unlikely to ever be the top 5 guy he looked destined to be early in his career, but the change of scenery could see him finally move beyond simply being dependable. Or not. Either way, he’s a guy Chicago could probably win with for the next few years at least, which is good as it would likely cost a pretty penny in draft capital to get him here. Beyond that, it’s pretty much just hoping that Dallas lets Dak walk at some point. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Jacob Infante: I don’t think the Bears are bad enough to draft high enough to land Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, but they’re also not good enough to be a legitimate title contender. As of now, they’re stuck in football purgatory. That said, I feel like the most realistic scenario in which the Bears could grab their franchise quarterback would be a trade up in the first round. It doesn’t have to be a massive trade up, just one that could move them up 6-7 spots to secure a top talent. If they do that this year, that quarterback they trade up for should be Trey Lance. If they punt on drafting a quarterback in 2021, then they could possibly look to bring in another veteran quarterback in free agency or through trade to compete with Foles for a starting job, assuming Trubisky ends up elsewhere after 2020. Generally, though, the best way to secure a franchise quarterback is to take one in the first round, and as worrisome as that may be given what happened last time, it’s a gamble the Bears are going to have to take again sooner rather than later.
Jeff Berckes: I think Ryan Pace decided to push all of his chips into the middle of the table with one out. If that Ace of Spades flips over on the river and his gamble pays off, again, it’s one of the greatest stories in Bears history. If not, I believe the Bears have to seriously consider moving on from Ryan Pace. Between Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky, and Nick Foles, it’s enough evidence to earn termination. A new GM would likely bring a year or two of resetting the roster, fixing the cap, and looking to the rookie draft for the answer. Many fans are convinced that will be in 2021, but remember, this Bears defense is too good for the Bears to finish with a top 10 pick. It might take a Dolphins-like reset by selling assets and starting fresh, looking for the 2022 draft.
So that about wraps up our thoughts on the thrilling conclusion to the Bears summer quarterback competition. As always, please share yours in the comments!