This is not the time for Bears general manager Ryan Pace to slap his palms together and declare his quarterback predicament resolved. The acquisition of Nick Foles clarifies plans for the upcoming season, but neither he nor Mitch Trubisky is the solution beyond that.
As is their tradition, the Bears don’t have a long-term quarterback. And that glaring need will test Pace’s stewardship in the upcoming draft — typically the only place to get one. Pace needs to make the right moves to save his job this season, but he also is charged with looking out for the Bears’ future, whether he’s a part of it or not.
It’s his absolute responsibility to prioritize quarterback in this draft, putting aside that the rookie probably won’t play much this season.
Trubisky, however, is likely on his way out, and Foles is a 31-year-old journeyman.
Pace is entering his second consecutive draft without a first-round pick, which is fine because he used those assets to land Khalil Mack. So the Bears’ top choices are in the second round at Nos. 43 and 50 overall.
Those aren’t just their highest selections. They’re the only ones they can realistically bet on to yield NFL talent. Their remaining picks are in the fifth round or later, where it’s far more of a gamble. Taking a quarterback at that stage doesn’t count as trying to correct this issue.
Assuming the Bears don’t package the two picks to move up, the options at No. 43 likely will be Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Washington’s Jacob Eason. They aren’t elite — the top four in this class are near-certain first-rounders — but there’s a lot to like.
All three were multiyear starters for major programs, and Hurts and Fromm had their programs in the mix for the national championship last season.
Coach Matt Nagy should get at least a 51 percent say in the pick. He’s the one who will supervise the next quarterback’s development, and his track record at the position is better than Pace’s. As Pace and the Bears went all in on Trubisky at No. 2 overall in 2017, Nagy was part of a Chiefs staff that labeled Patrick Mahomes can’t-miss.
When Pace took the job in 2015, he floated the wisdom of taking a quarterback in every draft.
They’re so difficult to find, and so valuable, that smart teams are always on the hunt. The Patriots drafted 10 during the 20 years Tom Brady was on the team, including six in the fourth round or higher. As Brady extended his career, Bill Belichick used Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett and Matt Cassel as trade pieces.
“It’s a good idea to add a quarterback every year,” Pace said. “It’s a critical position. Because of that, you can take a swing every year at it [and] increase your odds.”
Instead, he has picked one in five drafts: Trubisky.
Pace probably regretted saying that out loud in 2015 because the media would hold him to it, but he should’ve been holding himself to it all along. When pressed in December on why he hasn’t followed through, he had this explanation: “It’s something we talk about, [but] it just hasn’t been something that’s lined up in recent drafts.”
Trotting out that line again would be a big mistake.