Carson Wentz has been traded to the Colts so what’s the backup plan for the Chicago Bears?
Bears fans are breathing a sigh of relief knowing general manager Ryan Pace didn’t trade a package of draft picks for Carson Wentz. The former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has been traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round pick this year and a conditional second-round pick in 2022 that can be a first-round pick if Wentz plays 75 percent of the snaps or if the Colts make the playoffs and he plays at least 70 percent of the snaps.
It’s a worthwhile gamble for the Colts to see if Frank Reich can recapture the magic Wentz had during his 2017 season when he was on track to potentially win the MVP.
It would not have been a worthwhile gamble for the Bears to attempt the same with a lame-duck general manager and head coach mortgaging the future of the franchise that they may not even be a part of.
So with the Bears not trading for Wentz, what’s the plan at quarterback?
Trade market the Bears can explore
Deshaun Watson – 25 other teams would love to trade for the disgruntled quarterback of the Houston Texans but thus far, there are no signs the organization has any intention of trading him. Even if the Bears offered three first-round picks, Roquan Smith and some extra picks to round out the deal, the Texans would probably decline the offer. The Bears absolutely have to try to trade for Watson and give Houston a legitimate offer, but I don’t think he gets moved, anywhere.
Derek Carr – The Las Vegas Raiders have been rumored to have Derek Carr on the trade block, but that’s likely contingent on them trading for Watson. The Raiders aren’t going to trade Carr unless they get an upgrade at quarterback. Forget about the notion that the Seattle Seahawks are going to trade Russell Wilson. It’s even less likely than the Texans trading Watson. So where’s the upgrade coming from for the Raiders to move Carr? Exactly. That guy doesn’t exist, so while Carr could command a first-round pick and more, and could be a nice fit in Chicago, it’s not going to happen.
Sam Darnold – The former No. 3 pick is likely on the move with the New York Jets expected to take Zach Wilson, Justin Fields or Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft with the No. 2 overall pick. Sam Darnold has not lived up to expectations but he’s still just 23-years-old and the classic change-of-scenery case where he needs to get away from the franchise that didn’t do enough to help him maximize his potential. Sure, some of this is mostly on Darnold who hasn’t been much better than Wentz but could command a lower price tag. Could the Bears trade a pair of third-round picks for Darnold and hope to tap into his unrealized potential? If Darnold struggles in 2021, the Bears will be in a position to use a first-round pick in the 2022 draft or cut bait when he’s a free agent after the 2022 season. There’s an upside to Darnold if the price is right.
Gardner Minshew – With the Jacksonville Jaguars taking Trevor Lawrence in the draft, Gardner Minshew could be on the move. The former starter exceeded expectations since he was taken in the sixth round two years ago and took over as the starter when Nick Foles lost the job. He will be the cheapest option among the realistic trade candidates, but is he a significant enough upgrade for the Bears brass to put their jobs on the line for him? The notion of Minshew competing with Foles isn’t going to inspire anyone.
Free agent quarterbacks the Bears could pursue
Dak Prescott – The Dallas Cowboys are expected to give Dak Prescott the franchise tag if they can’t come to an agreement on a long-term contract. Prescott wants a four-year deal, the Cowboys want six. Either way, the Cowboys aren’t going to let Prescott leave this offseason.
Jacoby Brissett – Could he stay with the Colts as a backup? Could he return to the New England Patriots? Is Jacoby Brissett even a starter in this league? Bears should pass.
Jameis Winston – The former No. 1 pick backed up Drew Brees in his first year with the New Orleans Saints last year but also sat behind Taysom Hill. Sean Payton has maintained he wants to keep Winston, but it could make sense to explore if he wants a clearer path to a starting job.
Cam Newton – That ship has sailed. Cam Newton is cooked.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton – These guys are not the answer for the Bears, but any could make sense as a backup if the Bears draft a signal-caller in the NFL Draft.
Quarterbacks the Bears could take in the 2021 NFL Draft
Mac Jones – The Alabama quarterback had a breakout year in his first year as the starter for the Crimson Tide. Mac Jones helped guide the Crimson Tide to an undefeated season and a national championship. Is he a product of the system that saw DeVonta Smith win the Heisman, Najee Harris run over everyone and an NFL-ready offensive line? He has some tools and traits teams will want from a first-round quarterback, but the one year of results could have some teams shying away from taking him. The Bears picking at No. 20 could be too low to take him though. The run on the top four quarterbacks is expected to conclude in the top 10 picks, so there’s an ocean of picks between that and when the Bears pick when Jones could come off the board. However, if he’s on the board at No. 20, I’d take him.
Kyle Trask – For a large chunk of the season, Kyle Trask was putting up numbers comparable to Joe Burrow during his magical 2019 season that saw him win the Heisman and LSU the national title. The Gators didn’t win at that high clip and Trask trailed off in some big moments, but he could be a worthwhile pick in the second round if the Bears take an offensive tackle in the first.
Davis Mills – The Stanford product was a former five-star recruit but never lived up to the hype for the Cardinal. Injuries and other factors played into that, but he’s got the size and skills to potentially realize his stunted development as a mid-round pick. If he gets the opportunity to sit for a year or two, he could be a quality find. The Bears likely can’t be patient with Pace and Nagy needing to win now. Drafting Mills would be a move a stable organization would be able to do. The Bears aren’t that.
What if the Bears run it back with the incumbents?
Mitchell Trubisky is a free agent and not likely to come back. Both sides need to move on. It was clearly not going to work in Chicago and Trubisky should be happy to move out of the city where quarterbacks go to die. He’ll get a chance to sign elsewhere as a backup and prove he has what it takes to still be a starter in the league. It’s not happening in Chicago though.
Nick Foles is under contract and unlikely to be moved. Foles will be given the opportunity to compete for the starting job whether it’s against a guy like Darnold, a lower-tier free agent or a rookie. If Foles is the starter for 2021, the Bears will miss the playoffs, Pace and Nagy will be fired and the Bears will be looking for their next quarterback of the future in the 2022 NFL Draft where Sam Howell and Spencer Rattler project to be among the top available prospects.