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Chicago Bears 2021 Position Battles: The quarterback pecking order is set

Next up in our eleven-part Chicago Bears training camp preview series are the quarterbacks.

NFL: Chicago Bears Minicamp Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Matt Nagy has been extremely adamant on their plan at quarterback, and barring some drastic turn of events the Chicago Bears are going to head into training camp, the preseason, and the regular season with their first, second, and third string quarterbacks set in stone.

Roster Locks

Andy Dalton and Justin Fields, the QB1 and QB2 respectively, are likely going to get enough work in the preseason to whet our appetites for what this offense could be. It’ll be vanilla to a point, but these two QBs are still trying to get up to speed on the concepts Nagy wants to incorporate, and Nagy may want to get in a rhythm as a play caller for a few quarters at least. Nagy has also said he plans to play his starters more than he has in years past, so we may even get some Fields with the ones.

Dalton may not be the same guy that went to three Pro Bowls from 2011 to 2016, but he’s a competent quarterback that will be able to stay on time with the offense. The only way he doesn’t maintain his QB1 status before week one is if he’s injured or shows Jonathan Quinn levels of incompetence.

Fields is going to flash in camp and in the preseason games too, but even if he looks like the second coming of Sid Luckman there’s no way he beats out Dalton unless something disastrous happens.

A good bet to make it

Nick Foles wasn’t very good last year. He came in as the cerebral professional that would be able to run Nagy’s offense, but we never saw more than some flashes of that. Our guy Robert Schmitz described Foles perfectly when he said that Foles is a mirror that will show the level of skill around him.

If he has talent around him, he can mirror their productivity and play efficient football, but if his offense is bad, he simply doesn’t have the athleticism or moxie to elevate them.

Foles was saddled with a patchwork offensive line during most of his seven starts, and he just never looked comfortable.

I think there’s a good possibility that Foles sticks around as the number three this season for two reasons. One, the money— his cap hit means there’s no financial benefit to cut him, and that also makes a trade unlikely. And two, because he’s a likeable guy. Nagy likes him, he’s a good teammate, and it’s seems the rookie QB likes him too. Foles, like Dalton, has taken on a mentorship role with Fields.

“Nick is a true pro and understands it,” Nagy said about Foles’ job as the number three. “(He) is still very competitive and that’s why I say like in all these meetings, it’s just really special to see how they’re trying to help Justin out and teach him how to play quarterback and how to watch film and study this offense but also Justin helping them, too, with what he sees, so it’s been really good.”

Foles was one of the first players to reach out to Fields after he was drafted, and Fields has mentioned his positive relationship with Foles.

Some fans scoff at the notion an active player can act like an extra QB coach, but think about it; there are certain things a player can say to a fellow player that resonates more coming from a peer. Think of like a good cop/bad cop situation.

If there’s wasn’t the slightest of chances that he could be traded I’d have him in the roster lock category.

On the bubble

But Foles is still one of the few veteran QBs that a desperate team could come for if there’s an injury. If that happens the Bears could get an offer of a conditional pick for him, or do a swap of picks to help get his salary off the books.

If he’s traded, look for the Bears to add a number three to hang out on the practice squad. Free agent Kyle Sloter, who was at Halas Hall a bit the last few months, could be an option if the Bears need a guy. And don't forget Tyler Bray is still out there somewhere...