Coach Matt Nagy understands why speculation turns to the Bears trading third-stringer Nick Foles every time an NFL team has a sudden need at quarterback.
‘‘Absolutely,’’ Nagy said Saturday. ‘‘You’re talking about a Super Bowl MVP and a guy that’s started a lot of games. He’s had a really interesting career in so many ways that I just think that he deserves that.
‘‘I mean, anybody that’s had the career he has is somebody that’s always going to be — for all teams, as a third-string guy — teams are going to look at guys like him.’’
Foles is wildly overqualified as a third-string quarterback. On a team with Andy Dalton as the starter and Justin Fields as the future, he’s in limbo.
He also carries a $6.6 million salary-cap number this year and is more expensive for the Bears to cut than to keep. He’s owed $4 million in guarantees this year and $1 million in 2022.
That price tag, which compounds the expensive mistake the Bears made when trading for him 16 months ago, makes Foles hard for them to deal, even for third-day draft compensation. They’ve tried to, however, and they will try again, targeting teams with quarterback injuries this preseason.
An obvious target emerged Friday, when Colts quarterback Carson Wentz was ruled out indefinitely with a foot injury. Colts coach Frank Reich was Foles’ offensive coordinator on the Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning team. On Saturday, the Colts signed journeyman quarterback Brett Hundley. He’s unlikely to be the answer, however, having thrown only 11 passes since the end of 2017.
Nagy said he and Foles, who hasn’t spoken with Chicago media since November, never have discussed trade chatter.
‘‘I don’t talk to him about that, he doesn’t talk to me about it,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘That’s out of our control. He’s worrying about doing everything he can to just be great for us, and that’s what I like about our relationship. He’s happy with where he’s at here, and he’s in a good place.’’
The Bears signed Dalton one year after trading a fourth-round pick for Foles. Six weeks later, they traded up to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Nagy demoted Foles, who was 2-5 as the starter last season, to third string.
‘‘I would say probably 95% of people in his situation would handle it completely opposite of the way he’s handled it,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘And I have to give so much credit to him because he accepted it. He understood it. Was he happy about it? No. But he understood it.’’
Foles still arrives at Halas Hall around dawn for workouts and stays late for conditioning.
‘‘He told me that he’s in the best shape physically and mentally that he’s been in his career,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Honestly, that was shocking to me because you never know where a guy’s gonna come into the summer or after the summer, and he’s done everything in his power. It’s been really neat, and he’s been great for Justin and Andy.’’
What could sound like posturing — the Bears want potential trade partners to think Foles is valuable — is rooted in friendship. In 2016, Nagy helped persuade Foles, then with the Chiefs, to stick with the sport instead of retiring.
During training camp, it has been strange to see someone with Foles’ pedigree playing alongside third-stringers who might not have jobs in six weeks.
‘‘Every rep he gets — which isn’t a lot — but every rep he gets, he acts like he’s the first-string quarterback,’’ Nagy said.
Time will tell whether anyone else in the league sees him as a potential second-stringer.
‘‘For us, we feel like with Andy, Justin and Nick, our quarterback room right now is pretty good,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘And you need to have a quarterback in this league to win games.’’