While other teams land QBs, Bears still playing musical chairs

General manager Ryan Pace prides himself on secrecy and surprise. But given the opportunity to fix his biggest mistake outright — a move that will define his tenure with the Bears — Pace appears limited to half-measures.

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In what looks like a win-or-get-fired season for Bears GM Ryan Pace, the draft has more pressure than ever.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s move to select Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft came under increasing fire during the 2019 season.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The music started Monday, the metaphorical chairs spread six feet apart for safety purposes.

The NFL’s quarterback-hungry teams spent the next two days plopping into a seat and overpaying potential answers at the most important position in sports during the legal tampering period.

Teams can’t officially sign players until 3 p.m. Wednesday, but many already have made their intentions clear. Chief among them are the Buccaneers, who reportedly agreed to sign Tom Brady for about $30 million a year Tuesday, hours after he announced he was leaving the Patriots after 20 seasons.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace, meanwhile, continues circling his candidates as though he were playing musical chairs, waiting for the appropriate — and cost-effective — answer as to who can push or supplant starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Pace prides himself on secrecy and surprise. But given the opportunity to fix his biggest mistake outright — a move that will define his tenure with the Bears — Pace appears limited to half-measures.

Trading for the Bengals’ Andy Dalton or the Jaguars’ Nick Foles seems the most realistic option for a team whose financial limitations have been exacerbated by their signings of veterans Robert Quinn, Danny Trevathan and Jimmy Graham in the last week.

There’s no time crunch with Foles or Dalton; neither is due a significant payment when the league year starts Wednesday. But the Bears must fear competition for their services, even though neither would be considered a sure-fire starter on the first day of training camp.

In fact, Trubisky actually might have an advantage over them if, as expected, players are limited in how much they can practice during the offseason because of the NFL’s coronavirus containment strategy.

Pace’s other options are dwindling. Two others big names agreed to deals Tuesday. While Drew Brees agreed to stay with the Saints, Philip Rivers is leaving the Chargers after 16 seasons. He agreed to a reported one-year, $25 million deal with the Colts.

On Monday, Marcus Mariota (Raiders) and Case Keenum (Browns) reportedly agreed to become backups. Dak Prescott got the Cowboys’ franchise tag, and Ryan Tannehill received a lucrative extension from the Titans.

Two former No. 1 overall picks remain on the market, but each comes with questions.

Jameis Winston led the NFL in passing yards — and interceptions — with the Buccaneers last season. He’s also less than two years removed from being suspended by the NFL after an Uber driver accused him of groping her.

Cam Newton seems headed for a nasty divorce with the Panthers. On Tuesday, both sides offered their spins on the breakup. After the Panthers put out a news release saying they allowed him to seek a trade, Newton wrote on social media that he didn’t want to leave.

‘‘Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this,’’ he wrote.

Within hours, the Panthers had agreed to a three-year, $63 million deal with former Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater, according to ESPN. Bridgewater, who interested the Bears, will be their starter. Newton figures not to play for them again.

Newton is a former NFL MVP and, if healthy, a tremendous talent. But he soon will be 31, and acquiring him would be fraught with complications.

He has had multiple surgeries on his right shoulder and suffered a Lisfranc break in his left foot last season. Any team that would want to add Newton undoubtedly would want to give him a thorough physical, and player visits are banned because of coronavirus measures.

Any team would be nervous about trading for him until the NFL’s policies change. By that time, if not sooner, Newton figures to be given his outright release.

Would the Bears be interested? Would they dare wait that long?

The music continues to play. Where is that chair, anyway?

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