Suffice to say, being in the QB market less than three years after trading up to select one with the second overall pick in the draft isn’t ideal.
Yet that’s where Ryan Pace’s Bears find themselves this spring, and although it’ll be another month or so until we know how ambitiously they'll search, there’s at least some silver lining.
In a league without 32 solid starting quarterbacks, rarely if ever does supply exceed demand — the situation in which the Bears fortuitously also find themselves this offseason. Forgive us momentarily as we rehash another Bears QB disaster to emphasize our point: Mike Glennon — who signed a three-year, $45 million contract with $18 million guaranteed six weeks prior to Mitch Trubisky’s 2017 arrival — wouldn’t even be on the potential starter periphery if this offseason were his first free-agent foray.
From future Hall of Famers to former first-rounders looking for fresh starts, this QB market appears to have something for everyone, especially considering the majority of teams with a bunch of cap room are already established behind center. To wit: Of the top 12 leaders in cap space, eight of them are smitten with their recent first-round quarterbacks, two more could re-up with their impending free agent and the last two already appear dialed in on clear targets atop the free-agent and draft lists.
Teddy Bridgewater reportedly seeking $30M? Adorable, and given his remarkable comeback from a catastrophic knee injury, we’d love to see him get every penny. It simply isn’t happening, not in this market, where Philip Rivers (future Colt?) and Tom Brady (Foxboro or Vegas?) could command similar salaries.
Moreover, Pace — who obviously hasn’t had any luck backing up the Brinks Truck to solve the franchise’s perpetual QB riddle — won't come close to that kind of offer for Bridgewater or anyone else if for no other reason because it's not financially feasible.
Of course, the rare opportunity facing him to save a few bucks while shopping at the game's preeminent earning position means nothing if his Bears again make the wrong choice. But with the tier below the Hall of Famers including in free agency not only Bridgewater but Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, in addition to potential trade candidates like Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Derek Carr, Pace figures to have options available at a variety of price points.
Which target makes the most sense for the Bears? Beyond being a matter of preference, it’s a tough question to answer without knowing how valuable of a Trubisky insurance policy Pace has in mind. A decision on the embattled quarterback's fifth-year option for 2021 is due by the first week in May, and that fact has to be part of Pace's thinking as he potentially shops for passers with short- and long-term starting upside.
But Bears fans know as well as anyone that QB evaluation and acquisition is a tough business to begin, and perhaps they’ll find a bit of solace in knowing that their team's need to return to buyer mode sooner than expected hardly comes in a normal NFL offseason of slim QB pickings.
Most know the aforementioned heavy hitters, but there's no shortage of additional options with Bears ties either from a previous player-coach relationship standpoint (Alex Smith, Nick Foles, AJ McCarron, Jeff Driskel, Nate Sudfeld) or solid schematic fits (Case Keenum, Josh Rosen, Brett Hundley). And it's possible that Pace's Bears, with only the embattled Trubisky currently under contract in the QB corps, are focusing on a quarterback we haven't even mentioned. It certainly wouldn't be the first time.
But this offseason certainly could mark Pace's last time to get the QB position solved, and after missing on his only two previous swings in five years, his chances of connecting this time around, ironically, might be a bit better because of timing.