Inside the Chicago Bears QB Dilemma
The Chicago Bears have been searching for a quarterback ever since Sid Luckman retired in 1950. And it hasn’t been for lack of trying. From trading for Jay Cutler in 2009 to trading up to draft Mitch Trubisky in 2017, the team has been searching for the answer at the NFL’s most coveted position, and yet, the team once again finds themselves wondering seeking a solution. The 2020 season is another example of this — as 12 quarterbacks threw for over 4000 yards this season. In the entire history of the Bears franchise, they have yet to have a single 4000-yard passer. Entering the 2021 offseason, the quarterback market has never been as volatile, but at the same time, there is no clear path for what the Bears should be doing.
The rumors about the Bears trading for Wentz have gone on for weeks now. However, despite reports that Wentz will be traded soon, no move has been made yet. It is likely that the asking price, reportedly having been at least one first-round pick, was enough to turn teams away from trading for the former MVP-Candidate. The question is which Carson Wentz will a team be getting. We have seen him play at an MVP level during his career, but recently we have also seen an erratic, turnover-prone player, which is the dilemma teams face when they consider trading for Wentz.
Looking back at the 2017 season, it’s not hard to see why it may have been an outlier. That season, Wentz was absurdly good on 3rd downs, an unstable metric. Using RBSDM.com’s Quarterback Efficiency Charts, we can see how Wentz has regressed on 3rd downs since 2017, which should have been expected.
While this may not be the sole cause of Wentz’s regression since 2017, it’s worth noting that Wentz’s EPA per play on 1st and 2nd downs has stayed remarkably consistent, with a 0.085 EPA/play in 2017, and 0.087 EPA/play from 2018-2020. So it’s quite unlikely that we will ever see 2017 Wentz again, and while we may not be seeing his play from 2020 either, we’ll likely see something in between, and that is not worth the price the Eagles have been asking for Wentz.
Unfortunately for the Bears, having made a late-season playoff push, they seemingly won themselves out of a high enough draft pick to get one of the top 4 quarterbacks. The Bears could consider Mac Jones or Kyle Trask with the 20th overall pick. The consensus opinion seems to be that those players would be a reach for where the Bears are picking, and so, probably not what they should do. Trading up may be an option if the Bears fall in love with a prospect pre-draft, but with an aging roster, giving up more draft capital for a quarterback may not be the best move.
The Bears also have many other needs that they could use their first-round pick on, such as helping out the offensive line or taking advantage of a deep WR class to replace Allen Robinson if he leaves in Free Agency. With the state of the Bears roster at the current moment, trading up for one of the top 4 quarterbacks only to surround him with minimal talent is setting them up for more years of being a .500 or below team.
There is no clear path for the Bears to get their franchise quarterback. They are unlikely to trade for Deshaun Watson, and while other options via trade may be appealing, such as Derek Carr, the Bears may be more inclined to find a Free Agent option as well. As much as it may pain Bears fans, resigning Trubisky to a short 1-2 year deal might be one of their best options. Trubisky has shown throughout his career an ability to feast on bad teams, which was showcased late in the season when the Bears’ offense was lighting things up against the Lions, Texans, Vikings, and Jaguars. If they do so, they would also need to bring in another free agent, such as Jameis Winston, and have a full-on QB competition.
The Bears can then focus on their other issues, such as the offensive line, and bringing in young talent for their defense. That would be the way to go if they want to try competing over the next 1-2 years. The other option would be to punt on 2021. Without a quarterback who can hide his team’s flaws, the Bears would not be serious contenders next year. So trading some of their older players for some future draft capital, and going into a full-on rebuild, hoping to find their future at the top of the 2022 draft, might be their best solution. They could look at what the Dolphins did and use that as a blueprint to having them back competing for a Super Bowl in only a couple of years.