Most of us Chicago Bears fans have been on a roller coaster of emotions this offseason as we’ve watched every available quarterback get linked to our favorite team. Whether it be sourced news, educated rumors, or rampant speculation, it seems we’ve had a new odds-on-favorite to be the opening day starter pop up nearly every week. All of those those players have hit the speculative trifecta by coming in through the NFL Draft, in free agency, or via trade.
We all have a handful of quarterbacks we hope will be donning the Navy and Orange soon, but we also have some realistic options we’re readying ourselves for.
I decided to get the thoughts from some of our staffers on who they feel is the most realistic options, and considering we’re all Bears fans, I’m assuming some hope did creep into some of our answers.
I asked some of our usual WCG suspects, plus I got the thoughts of Danny Mehan and Brandon Robinson, two of the co-hosts of our Rule of 3 podcast, to give me their top 5 “realistic” choices that will be suiting up week one for the Bears. I then tabulated the results* to compile our list of 18 different signal callers that we collectively feel are most likley to be running Matt Nagy’s offense when the 2021 season kicks off.
Here’s our list starting with the QBs that received the least amount of votes on through the leading vote getter with the number of votes each player received in parenthesis.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (1)
- The 49ers don’t want him and it seems that he’s most likely headed to New England, but Pace also is a Jimmy G fan so you can’t rule it out. ~ Bill Zimmerman
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (1)
- Darkhorse candidate but if Watson gets moved, the most likely destination is Miami plus they have the third pick in the draft. I don’t think it’s crazy to think they’ll move on from Tua this off-season. ~ Jeff Berckes
Kyle Trask, Florida Gators (1)
- Trask is a guy that is potentially attainable for the Bears in round two and is a guy who is a sure fire bet to get absolutely everything he can out of his average-ish, God-given abilities. It’s not sexy, but the Bears aren’t within reach of a big swing for a QB this draft and Trask may end up being the best option among the realistically attainable rookie quarterbacks. ~ Danny Meehan
Chase Daniel, Detroit Lions (1)
- Why not run it back with him? Feels like something that could happen when desperation kicks in post draft and free agency. ~ Sam Householder
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans (1)
- Chicago wants him I just don’t know how long they can wait for Houston to actually entertain trade talks. ~ Brandon Robinson
Justin Fields, Ohio State (3)
- If a Russ deal doesn’t materialize, Pace could seek George McCaskey’s approval to trade his first two picks in both of the next two drafts for whoever Jacksonville and New York don’t select. Pace and Nagy seem like the type to go down swinging regardless of cost, so I don’t think an Alex Smith type is getting sold as Chicago’s answer in August. ~ Robert Schmitz
- The NFL seems lower on Fields than expected, so I could see a situation where they move into the top 8 without significant trade compensation. ~ Brandon Robinson
Trey Lance, North Dakota State (4)
- It’s not out of the question for Lance to slip down the board in this draft. His tape is excellent, he’s superbly athletic, and he’s exactly what a coach on the hot seat should be looking for - safe with the football! However, with only 1 full season of experience to reference when evaluating him, I could see teams who are drafting in the top 10 going in favor of more sure options. I don’t think he’s falls all the way down to #20 though, so it still involves a trade up. ~ Jack Salo
- If the Bears decide to trade up, Lance makes the most sense. He’s got the tools you look for in a modern NFL QB, and they wouldn’t have to move up TOO far to potentially grab him. ~ Will Robinson II
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M (4)
- Honestly you could insert a few quarterbacks projected for day 2-3 here and it would probably be the same. Quite a few recent mocks have the top five QBs all off the board by 15, so well out of the Bears’ reach barring a trade-up, and Mond could probably be taken late in the third round. ~ Jack Salo
Sam Darnold, New York Jets (4)
- I would assume the Bears would love a chance at getting a cheap, high upside QB. ~ Brandon Robinson
Zach Wilson, BYU (5)
- Believe it or not, the Bears aren’t in a bad position to select a quality quarterback in round one. In 2017, Chicago wasn’t the only team to trade up for their shot at securing “their guy” at QB. Kansas City traded up from 27th to 10th overall for Patrick Mahomes. Houston, shortly thereafter, traded up from 25th to 12th for Deshaun Watson, so the framework for such deals already exists. If Chicago wants to move up into the top ten, then it’ll be two firsts, a third, and maybe an additional 2022 pick. If they want to move up to 2nd overall, it’ll likely be three first rounders at a minimum. Ryan Pace’s butt is firmly on the hot seat, so he either gets his answer at QB, or he’s fired. ~ Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Free agent (5)
- Outside of Russell Wilson there may not be a potentially more entertaining outcome than the Fitzmagic/Fitztragic saga for a season while they look for a long-term answer. He’s an established signal caller who is obviously smart (being Harvard educated), but he plays the position with an “eff it” attitude. He also doesn’t cost the organization anything aside from salary cap space. ~ Danny Meehan
- The dude is destined to be a Bears quarterback; journeyman, throws the most beautifully bad interceptions, good enough to lead an 8-9 or 9-8 season (17 games coming), but fun enough to make it interesting for a couple weeks. ~ Sam Householder
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (9)
- Going with the theme that ‘Ryan Pace would rather give a lot up than go into the season with someone like Gardner Minshew,’ I think Matt Ryan getting traded to the Bears after the Falcons select someone like Trey Lance at 4 makes a whole lot of sense. I’m not sure what the trade’s cost would be, but if Pace keeps it to 2022 picks, then the Bears could reset at tackle, add a wide out, and have Ryan in town by week one. ~ Robert Schmitz
- It’s a complete unknown what the Atlanta Falcons are planning to do with their 4th overall pick. They could pull the trigger on a new QB, and if that’s the case, they’ll ship Ryan away. Truly, I see the 49ers being a real option for him in a reunion with Kyle Shannahan, but knowing the situation the Bears are in, they may look into this possibility if nothing else substantial develops. ~ Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
- This has been my theory for a while. I think Atlanta is taking Wilson or Fields in the draft and I think the Falcons will handle Matt Ryan’s departure with class. They’ll give him an opportunity to play elsewhere rather than get benched for the rookie in week 5. I see a draft day trade happening. ~ Bill Zimmerman
Mac Jones, Alabama (11)
- Feels like to me he has the biggest chance, along with Trey Lance, to fall down to an area where the Bears could grab him. ~ Sam Householder
- Mac has been moving up some folk’s draft boards lately, but I still think he’s the most likely QB to be there when the Bears pick at 20. And while he’s not flashy, he is polished enough that you could see him starting immediately. ~ Will Robinson II
- If they go rookie, this appears to be the most likely option that they can land. I don’t think Trey Lance garners much consideration because he is more of a project and may not be in a place to help the team in 2021. ~ Bill Zimmerman
- Jones just seems like a guy Nagy will fall in love with during the pre-draft process, and if all their tries for a veteran via trade are rebuffed, I could see Pace moving up to ensure they get Jones. ~ Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
Marcus Mariota, Las Vegas Raiders (12)
- I know, I know, this isn’t sexy and it’s definitely not a home run swing. But, I feel as though he’s the most likely, attainable option given Pace’s pre-draft affection for him. He’s also known for being a tireless worker and being very intelligent. The talent has never been deniable. ~ Danny Meehan
- The contract he signed with the Raiders would need to be renegotiated, but the past connections to Pace make this a real possibility. ~ Jeff Berckes
- Ryan Pace absolutely loved Mariota during the 2015 draft. It was suggested he attempted to trade up for the former Oregon Duck with a package of Jay Cutler and some picks. ~ Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
- Nick Foles is not going to be starting, no chance. If everything fails, maybe they give Mariota a shot, we know Pace likes him. ~ Bill Zimmerman
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars (13)
- While I’ve been hoping for a home run, I’m resigned to the likelihood of nothing better than a single this offseason, While Minshew may only have one advantage over Trubisky, it’s an advantage Nagy values. ~ Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
- He has familiarity with QB Coach and Passing Game Coordinator John DeFilippo, and he has had moderate success as a former 6th-round pick is the real reasoning behind this. He’s an insanely smart QB whom is the baseline of the ‘he’s not bad, but he’s also not that good’ variety ~ Danny Meehan
- The Jags could absolutely keep him behind the expected #1 pick Trevor Lawrence but if they wanted to move him, they’ve already traded one QB to the Bears. ~ Jeff Berckes
- Minshew is a great backup QB (very similar skill level to Foles overall) with deep connections to DeFilippo, youth on his side, and some starting experience to boot. If all else fails, he may be the move. ~ Robert Schmitz
Alex Smith, Free Agent
- The only way I see Smith in Chicago is if they find a team willing to take Foles. Smith would be signed as QB2, and if no legit QB1 veteran can be had, Smith’s experience wins out over a rookie for a few weeks at least. ~ Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
- Smith is very familiar with Nagy, and if the Bears brass got their heads out of their butts then they would see that having 3 viable quarterback options is the best strategy when you don’t have a true QB1. I could see them bringing Smith in, keeping Foles as his backup, and protecting a rookie quarterback on the practice squad. Tyler Bray is likely out anyway. ~ Jack Salo
- With him being a free agent, and his history with Nagy and the basics of his offensive system, there is a very real chance the Bears go in that direction. Possibly as a bridge for a rookie, or as a 1 year placeholder over Foles, while they beef up the rest of the offense and go after a QB next year. ~ Will Robinson II
- He’s already a free agent, which is more than you can say for a lot of the guys out there. Pair that with his history with Nagy and this one makes sense. ~ Sam Householder
- Alex Smith is a QB who Matt Nagy sees as family. Those two have as close of a bond as you could imagine between a coach and a QB. Plus, Smith is the best kind of mentor you’d like to see if the Bears invest in a young QB during the upcoming draft. ~ Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (28)
- With so much smoke around Wilson to the Bears, it’ll seem like a let down if it doesn’t happen. He clearly wants out and of the two teams remaining on his list the Bears make the most sense. ~ Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
- Maybe this is wishful thinking, but if there’s a real fire in Seattle, then Chicago is a great destination for him. And the Bears are rumored to be aggressive in their pursuit. ~ Jeff Berckes
- This might be a pipe dream, but I doubt there’s a more motivated team in the league than Chicago when it comes to landing Wilson, and they are on his short list of teams he’d accept a trade to. Add to that Dallas just signed Dak and the Raiders don’t seem interested, and the Bears suddenly seem to be the favorite landing spot should a Russ trade materialize. Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy need to make a splash this off-season, and this would be a Tsunami. So don’t sleep on the possibility. ~ Will Robinson II
- There are obvious hurdles to go through but this is by far where I’d put my money at the moment. ~ Brandon Robinson
- It might be a dream, but of Wilson’s 4 teams, Dallas is out, New Orleans doesn’t seem feasible, and Las Vegas doesn’t seem likely to pay multiple first round picks when they have Derek Carr. It’s probably around 50-50 that Wilson is playing for either Chicago or Seattle at this point. ~ Bill Zimmerman
- Okay, I’ve bought in. I’m here for the hype and the eventual (potential) let down of getting my hopes up. One of the premier QBs in the league, and he’s clearly at odds with the Seahawks management and coaching staff. The Bears should, and I believe they are, making a serious run at Wilson to be calling plays in the Windy City. ~ Danny Meehan
- Ryan Pace won’t screw around and wait to make his move when a golden opportunity presents itself, and depending on which sources/writers you take stock with, Chicago has been persistent in pursuing Russell WIlson. It’s also reached a point in Seattle where a trade is no longer an unrealistic scenario. Wilson has, allegedly, marked the Bears as one of his four preferred teams. Chicago, clearly, wants this Super Bowl quality QB. A deal will happen if they continue their dialogue with Seattle. Remember, the Raiders weren’t trading Khalil Mack and Denver wasn’t trading Jay Cutler, until both teams did just that in 2018 and 2009, respectively. ~ Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
- I don’t think this is a pipe dream, I really do think Russell Wilson wants out of Seattle and that Ryan Pace is desperate enough to offer whatever it takes to get this move done. I’d love it if this happened, and I really think this has legs. ~ Robert Schmitz
Nick Foles, Chicago Bears (33)
- Please let me be wrong, but I can see the Bears missing all their big swings and settling for a rookie or another low level QB1 via trade or free agency, which leaves the experienced Foles as the de facto week one starter. ~ Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
- He’s on the roster and is the fallback option for this team. Plus, he’d still be favored to start Week 1 in the event the Bears go the draft route. ~ Jeff Berckes
- His contract almost guarantees he’ll be here in 2021; with the Bears tight against the cap already, they really can’t afford $10.3 million in dead money. Ideally he’s an overpaid backup to a stud young quarterback, but at #20 the Bears aren’t in a position to get one of those. I truly believe he’ll “win” a fake quarterback competition to start day one and then get pulled very quickly in favor of the rookie. ~ Jack Salo
- Rookie QB sits with Foles starting week one. ~ Brandon Robinson
- Hey, I don’t like it any more than you do, but he’s already paid, on the roster, and should they strike out on a trade or in the draft, he’s the most likely day 1 starter. ~ Will Robinson
- He’s on the roster and carries a $10M cap hit if moved, so of all the QBs to start the year in Chicago, Foles is as safe a bet as it gets. ~ Robert Schmitz
Foles as our most likely with Wilson as our number two was not how I saw this exercise panning out. Who do you think are the most likely options for Ryan Pace and the Bears?