When the Bears traded four draft picks to move up one spot to select Mitch Trubisky No. 2 overall in 2017, they were confident they had solved their quarterback problems for the next decade or so.
Less than four years after the trade, Trubisky’s time with the Bears is over.
Trubisky agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal Thursday with the Bills, ending his tenure with the Bears with two playoff appearances, one Pro Bowl berth as an injury replacement and 29 victories in 50 starts.
It’s telling that Trubisky couldn’t land a starting job this offseason. His new home won’t offer that opportunity — quarterback Josh Allen earned a Pro Bowl nod last season — but it’s a soft landing spot nonetheless. He’ll learn under Allen and up-and-coming coordinator Brian Daboll, who is expected to be a head-coaching candidate next offseason, and hit the free-agent market again in a year.
‘‘I don’t know what went on in Chicago, but [Trubisky] started 50 games,’’ Bills general manager Brandon Beane told reporters. ‘‘The label has been put on Mitchell from afar that maybe he doesn’t deserve it. This is a reset for him. We don’t expect him to be here [for the] long term.’’
The Bears agreeing to terms Tuesday with quarterback Andy Dalton on a one-year contract unofficially snuffed out any chance Trubisky, 26, would return.
Trubisky showed some willingness to play for the Bears in 2021 immediately after their playoff loss to the Saints, insisting that he had ‘‘unfinished business’’ but that ‘‘a lot of that is out of my control.’’
A reunion, however, wouldn’t have benefitted either the Bears or Trubisky, who has spent his career under the microscope after GM Ryan Pace traded up to draft him instead of selecting Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson in 2017. Watson has maintained ever since that the Bears, who attended his pro day at Clemson, never even interviewed him.
Arguably the two most dynamic young quarterbacks in the NFL, Mahomes and Watson signed big-money contract extensions last offseason.
As a rookie, Trubisky won four of 12 starts after replacing Mike Glennon in Week 5. Pace fired coach John Fox at the end of that season and hired Matt Nagy, the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator who had spent one season preparing Mahomes to start, to develop Trubisky.
In Nagy’s first season, the pairing looked promising. Trubisky and the Bears went 12-4, won the NFC North and were a double-doinked field goal by Cody Parkey away from winning their first playoff game.
But Trubisky cratered enough in his third season, showing questionable decision-making and not running as often as he had earlier in his career, that the Bears decided not to pick up his fifth-year option last May.
His final season with the team was a roller coaster. Trubisky lost his starting job in the third quarter of the third game last fall and returned only after struggling Nick Foles hurt his hip in a loss to the Vikings in Week 10.
The Bears put Trubisky under center and switched to a tempo-driven, run-based offensive attack — with improved results. Trubisky lost to the Packers and Lions before winning three consecutive games to give the Bears a win-and-we’re-in finale against the Packers at Soldier Field.
The Bears lost that game, but a loss by the Cardinals enabled them to sneak into the playoffs as the NFC’s first No. 7 seed. They lost to the Saints easily the next week.
While the Bears wouldn’t rule out Trubisky’s return publicly, Pace sounded ready to move on three days after the end of the season.
‘‘To get where we want to go, we definitely need more out of that position,’’ he said in January. ‘‘We know that.’’