As Chicago Bears fans, we are way too familiar with training camp battles at quarterback. Most NFL teams know who their starting quarterback is going to be heading into the year, but the Bears seem to have a question there far too often.
Fortunately, this year is quite different. Not only is Justin Fields locked into QB1, but PJ Walker is locked into QB2. That means the QB battle is going to be for the third quarterback on the roster and with the new NFL rules regarding that position, it makes things a little interesting.
Let’s take a quick minute to discuss the new rule. The NFL is allowing a third QB to be inactive on game day, but can be elevated to the active roster in an emergency situation if both QBs are injured. This, of course, was sparked by the situation with the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs last season. But here’s the key point: the third QB has to be on the 53-man roster, he cannot be a game day practice squad elevation. If the Bears are going to take advantage of the rule, either Nathan Peterman or rookie Tyson Bagent will have to make the 53-man roster.
It’ll be interesting how the Bears choose to construct their roster at quarterback. Will they carry four QBs with three on the active roster and one on the practice squad? It seems like many teams will want to carry the third quarterback because, in essence, it gives you a bonus active roster spot on Sundays. Some teams may not want to take advantage of the rule because they’d rather have a potential contributor with that last roster spot.
If the Bears carry three QBs on the active roster, I think this battle becomes non-existent. I think the Bears will carry Peterman as their third QB due to his experience (at throwing interceptions. Just kidding! Not really). And I think the Bears put Bagent on the practice squad.
If the Bears decide that Peterman isn’t worth a spot on the 53-man roster, that means they’ll almost certainly keep just one additional QB on the practice squad and one of these guys will be out on the street looking for a new job.
If that’s the case, Peterman’s performance probably won’t dictate too much. NFL teams know who Peterman is at this point. It’s Bagent’s performance that will dictate who’s QB3. If Bagent has an electric training camp and preseason (for a third QB), the Bears may be prompted to keep him as the last QB and let Peterman walk, who will almost certainly remain on his sofa the rest of the season.
Bagent was signed as an undrafted free agent. There’s plenty of reasons to think Bagent won’t succeed. His arm angle isn’t great, he stares down his first read and rarely moves through his progressions and he doesn’t do well when he’s under pressure. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to consider what Bagent could be. He was a DII QB out of Shepherd and threw for 5000 yards and 53 touchdowns in 15 games last season.
Bagent can obviously play the position, but going from DII competition to NFL competition is going to be a startling jump for him no question. If Bagent shows enough promise this summer, the Bears will want to keep him around either as the third QB on the 53 or on the practice squad, but if he struggles, the Bears may just stick with Peterman knowing that developing a QB isn’t too high of a priority with Justin Fields already on the roster.
Either way, watching Bagent this summer will be fun. Watching Nathan Peterman never is. Bears fans will be hoping Bagent wins this training camp battle this year, but there’s a chance both these players remain part of the Bears’ roster this season.