Let’s check in on how our old buddy Mitch Trubisky is doing during free agency.
There was some slight nervousness that the Bears might make a covert run at future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. Dodged that nightmare.
Then the conversation turned to a more long-term solution in Teddy Bridgewater, but fortunately for Trubisky the flirtation was fleeting. His shoulders tensed at the mention of Cam Newton trade rumors, followed by an ambivalent reading of Andy Dalton’s Wikipedia page.
Then, finally, it popped up on his Twitter timeline Wednesday.
Oh, thank goodness. It’s just Nick Foles.
Foles is an NFL starter who has a Super Bowl MVP, but there’s nothing scary about him for Trubisky.
The Bears’ search for someone to replace Trubisky worked out great for the man himself. Someone like Newton would’ve automatically bumped him down the depth chart, and a Bridgewater signing might’ve even put him on the trading block. Instead, Trubisky’s challenge is simply to keep his job, not wrest it back from someone else.
He’s the real winner of this trade. Second prize goes to the Jaguars for escaping the four-year $88 million contract they gave Foles a year ago — a deal they regretted roughly four minutes later — and collecting a fourth-round draft pick in return.
We’ll find out in the next few months — it might take that long due to coronavirus-related delays — whether the Bears declare it an open competition between Trubisky and Foles or phrase it as Foles being there to “push” Trubisky. If it is a position battle, the burden of proof will be much more so on Foles than the incumbent.
Either way, this is the least scary situation for which Trubisky could’ve hoped. He remains in a situation where everyone in the organization’s preference is that he emerges as the starter.
It seems highly likely now, as opposed to when bigger names were in play, that Bears general manager Ryan Pace will pick up Trubisky’s fifth-year option in case he makes progress this season. Triggering that would pay him close to $25 million in 2021 but can be rescinded as long as he’s healthy.
Pace has been insistent that Trubisky just needs more time, but everyone else has seen enough. The Bears’ short-lived pursuit of Bridgewater hinted that Pace was ready to accept reality as well, but here we are. Trubisky’s ceiling remains league-average, and it’s sad that any team would be content with that as the best-case scenario at the most important position on the field.
No matter how bad it got for Trubisky last season, coach Matt Nagy was adamant that he was his guy if healthy. It never takes much for the Bears to convince themselves that Trubisky is better than he looks, and that’ll help him in the race against Foles.
Last season, Trubisky was miles away from league-average. His numbers dipped in every category except for interceptions, and he finished 28th in passer rating at 83.0. He was dead last in yards per attempt with 6.1, making him the least productive quarterback in the NFL.
Foles’ career passer rating is 88.2, and the Jaguars are more than happy to proceed with sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew as their starter. After returning from a broken clavicle late in the season, Foles sustained a strictly performance-based benching in favor of Minshew.
The Bears looked like an ideal landing spot for any veteran quarterback given that they have an elite defense and an enticing crew of skill players — and all the new guy would need to do is be better than Trubisky. Instead, it’s a favorable situation for Trubisky and it’s far short of the upgrade the Bears needed.