INDIANAPOLIS — Fluid is the Bears’ buzzword. It’s how general manager Ryan Pace characterized Jay Cutler’s situation and his team’s quarterback situation.
“There are a lot of scenarios right now, and there are a lot of different things that can happen,” Pace said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “It’s fluid throughout this week and as we approach free agency and even after free agency.”
For Cutler, that means he’s in flux for the first time in his Bears career. Though Pace said keeping him remains an option, it’s thought around the league that the Bears will move on.
“At this point, we pretty much have everything on the table,” Pace said. “For us, to do it the responsible way, that’s necessary.”
Here are five ways for the Bears to replace Cutler:
It seems very unlikely that Cutler returns, but Pace seems intent on keeping him an option for now. At least that’s what he’s saying.
Either way, Cutler’s trade value might have increased with the news that the Patriots aren’t expected to trade Jimmy Garoppolo.
Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin also said his team isn’t actively looking to trade A.J. McCarron.
Cutler is available, and according to a league source, he has some input in the trade process.
Pace made it a point to highlight his communication with Bus Cook, Cutler’s agent.
“We’re close,” Pace said. “In times like these, that relationship is important because we can be honest and transparent. He’s one of the top agents out there. That helps in this process.”
The Bears like Hoyer. Coach John Fox highlighted his efficiency and ball security, and Pace called him a “big part of the equation.”
Hoyer, who is recovering from a broken arm, also has said he’s open to being a mentor should his next team draft a quarterback.
The Bears like Matt Barkley, too. Connor Shaw, a restricted free agent, also is in the mix. Going with Hoyer, Barkley or both would fit the option Pace described as “staying the course.”
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a “perfect scenario” the team would re-sign Glennon. But that would be as Jameis Winston’s backup. So Glennon will enter free agency.
“He’s going to have some other opportunities,” Licht said.
With everything to consider, the Bears will look at Glennon. But price matters, especially when considering a quarterback who last started in 2014.
“You can always recover from the player you didn’t sign; you can’t recover from the player that you signed at the wrong price,” Pace said. “We’ve got to be conscious of that.”
The wild cards
Keep an eye on Tyrod Taylor and Kirk Cousins.
New Bills coach Sean McDermott said the team might keep Taylor, a two-year starter. But Taylor, who reportedly was cleared medically after groin surgery in January, is due a $27.5 million option bonus March 11.
As for Cousins, the Redskins gave him the exclusive franchise tag, which is worth $23.9 million. But it’s believed he could be available in a trade if negotiations for a long-term deal don’t go well.
And don’t forget the Cowboys still have to decide what to do with Tony Romo, though he might want to join a contender.
Pace said there’s no timeline for making a decision on Cutler, but there should be clarity when the draft begins April 27. Free agency starts next Thursday.
It’s considered a down year for quarterbacks in the draft, but the evaluations of Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer and others will evolve over the next several weeks.
It’s important for the Bears not to reach for one.
“You have to get value,” Pace said.
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.