Who Will Start Under Center For The Bears in 2021?
By: Rich Maletto @bodaciousbeer
Mitch Trubisky is on his way out of Chicago, he’s currently an unrestricted free agent, and the Chicago Bears have not openly said they would not bring Trubisky back, but the writing is on the wall.
A recent report reported that the Bears are the front runners for obtaining Carson Wentz, but currently, the Philadelphia Eagles’ trade demands are outlandish at best. I am not ruling out a Wentz trade because, honestly, it makes the most sense, but at the time of writing this, it is looking improbable. Bearing that in mind, let’s look at some other options if the Eagles hold firm on their demands.
Bears Trading for Quarterback
The 2021 college class of football players is relatively deep, and frankly, there are some attractive options at the quarterback spot. The Bears problem, none of those options look like they will be available at the 20th pick in the draft, which is where they currently sit. Does that mean that no rookies will be available for the Chicago Bears? Not necessarily, but if they aren’t going to trade for Wentz, they should strongly consider trading up in the draft.
The latest report stated the Bears said they are not interested in Wentz unless he’s 100% in for Chicago. If I were Wentz, since Indianapolis is still in play, I would nix the Bears deal and find a way to get to Indy. Does it make sense for the Bears to count on the rookie draft for the starter at quarterback? That seems like a horrible idea to me. (As I finished this the report came out that Wentz went to the Indianapolis Colts)
I reached out to a good friend who is a knowledgeable Chicago Bears fan I know and asked him, “with the mess at quarterback, what do you wish the Bears did this year to address the position?” The reason for my question, I was perplexed about what a fan would want. If I was a GM, I have to worry about selling tickets and winning, and frankly, what Chicago did with Mitch Trubisky created a disaster, in my opinion.
Bears Sign a Savvy Veteran
They “mortgaged the farm,” so to speak, to move up in the draft to get Trubisky, and it’s created a snowball effect of negativity. They haven’t been able to surround Mitch with better receivers or an offensive line. And now they aren’t bringing back the guy they traded up to get. It’s a mess, and the salary cap decreasing to $180 – $190 million probably won’t help the cause.
The funny part about my buddy’s conversation was that he pointed out an obvious and brilliant play the Bears should do. They should sign a savvy vet AND still draft a quarterback. As I mentioned earlier, the only challenge with this is that there will not be many Chicago options regarding the 20th pick. In the best-case scenario, Mac Jones would be available to them.
I see two potential options for Chicago landing a veteran quarterback. They could make a run at Jameis Winston, I know not everyone loves Winston as a player, but he would be a significant upgrade over what the Bears have been using. Truthfully, I am not sure that’s the best play. Winston has had some of his challenges, and while I think he’s up to the task, I believe there is a better option.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a free agent, and it doesn’t look like he wants to go back to the Miami Dolphins. Frankly, after the way the Dolphins treated Fitzpatrick, I don’t blame him. He is more than capable of starting for an NFL team. He’s a perfect “bridge quarterback” because he is well versed in multiple offensive schemes. Fitzpatrick has played so long, and he’s like Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers. There isn’t much a defense can throw at Fitzpatrick that he hasn’t seen before.
The Chicago Bears need to make a play at Ryan Fitzpatrick, sign him to a two-year contract. Put a plan in place to either trade up for a quarterback they want or even trade up to make sure they get Mac Jones. Trying to trade up to get Trey Lance or Zach Wilson would be problematic and quite costly. The concern would be repeating the mistake from the Mitch Trubisky trade. If the Bears sign Fitzpatrick, they have options and don’t have to force a quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft.
One of the concerns I would have with taking a quarterback with the 20th overall pick is that there is still a lot of talent available at positions the Bears need help. For example, both offensive line and wide receiver are areas that Chicago needs help. With the 20th pick, there will be plenty of talented offensive lineman and wide receivers on the board, and it would be prudent, in my opinion, for them to go that route.
The Best Approach for The Bears
Here is what the Chicago Bears need to do. Priority should be to sign Ryan Fitzpatrick. Next, the Bears need to form a draft plan for the quarterback position. If they sign Fitzpatrick, they could gamble on a prospect like Kellen Mond. Still, use that first-round pick for the talent they need at other places. Gambling on a prospect in the third or fourth round RARELY pays off. There is a some risk with this approach.
Another option is to sign Fitzpatrick and hope that Mac Jones is available at pick 20. I am not sold on Jones, but he’s worth a shot for the Bears. He has the best tools from the neck up, but Jones is limited athletically. Mac is a natural-born leader, knows how to win, and understands that the quarterback’s role is to get the ball into your playmaker’s hands. In my opinion, this is the least risky option for Bears, regarding the quarterback position. They wouldn’t be overpaying financially or with draft capital trying to sure up that roster spot, but it’s not going to help the Bears in the other areas they need help with.
The last option is one that is going to required the Chicago front office to be willing to gamble. While all four of the top quarterback options are getting a lot of love in NFL circles, we have seen in the past drafting a quarterback is no sure thing. The going rate for the top two to four overall picks is pretty steep. I would assume the Bears would have to give up multiple first-round selections and probably a second-round pick or more to move up to the top four spots.
The reason I suggest the top four spots, they have a better opportunity to get one of the higher valued prospects. That’s a high price to pay for an unknown commodity, and with what happened with Trubisky, some might find it foolish. If you try to wait and land a golden nugget like Tom Brady in the fifth round or Dak Prescott in the fourth round, you might as well be wishing with a genie in a bottle. These players are rare, but neither team risked much and found gold at the quarterback spot in both examples.
Overall, my suggestion is to sign Fitzpatrick and take a chance on Kellen Mond later in the draft. Bulk up that offensive line, get a high upside wide receiver prospect, and draft Mond in the third round or later. Rayn Fitzpatrick is more than capable of running the offense for the next year or two. You can see if Mond can develop, and if not, you didn’t risk much on a quarterback to be wrong. The bottom line, the Bears are going to have to get creative, or they are going to waste a very talented team lead by their defense.