Can Mitch Trubisky land a starting job this time around?
One year after Trubisky left the Bears and signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal to back up Josh Allen, the Bills fully expect him to get a bigger deal — and a better opportunity — when the legal tampering period opens March 14.
INDIANAPOLIS — Bills coach Sean McDermott said he couldn’t say enough positive things about former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky, then tried to do just that.
McDermott called his backup quarterback a ‘‘class act’’ and a ‘‘consummate professional’’ who did a ‘‘phenomenal job’’ in 2021.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane went one step further.
‘‘He’s just a marry-your-daughter type of guy,’’ Beane said this week at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Before either nominates Trubisky for canonization, it’s worth pointing out that he threw eight regular-season passes this past season. All were in garbage time: He entered games with the Bills leading by 22, 33 and 17 points and once when they were trailing by 26. His preseason homecoming at Soldier Field, in which Trubisky posted a 106.4 passer rating, was the highlight of his season.
Still, there’s buzz at the combine that Trubisky might be the answer to a team’s quarterback problem. Perhaps he will follow former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to the Giants and challenge Daniel Jones for the starting job. The Commanders don’t have a starting quarterback on their roster. Neither do the Saints, Buccaneers, Steelers or Broncos.
One year after Trubisky signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal to back up Josh Allen, the Bills fully expect him to get a richer deal — and a better opportunity — when the legal tampering period opens March 14. Pro Football Focus projects he’ll get a two-year, $14 million contract as a fringe starter or a high-end backup.
Others have speculated he might fetch even more — perhaps double — if a team sees him as a sure-fire starter. Former Bears coach Matt Nagy’s lack of success with Andy Dalton, Nick Foles and Justin Fields in 2021 has led some to believe Trubisky wasn’t the problem.
Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in 2017 who spent his first four seasons with the Bears, was hurt last offseason by a shrunken salary cap and a draft that featured five quarterbacks ticketed for the first round. His failures with the Bears were still fresh.
This offseason, the market views him more favorably. The mystery surrounding his last year certainly helps. Trubisky, who always has been a good practice player, took so few snaps in games that front offices can project upon him whatever they want.
Squint hard enough, and he looks better than some of the alternatives.
‘‘If you look at his career history in Chicago, they went to the playoffs; they won a lot of games,’’ Beane said. ‘‘When you compare it to young quarterbacks starting as a rookie, I mean, he was drafted highly. And, in fairness, I think a lot of it happens because he was drafted so highly and above some of the guys. He was always being compared to them and just, you know, was never gonna be able to live up to some of the things that [the Chiefs’ Patrick] Mahomes and [the Texans’ Deshaun] Watson and some of those guys did.
‘‘But he’s a really good quarterback, and I think he’ll have a good opportunity.’’
Blame quarterbacks Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, who have retired in the last year and left their teams scrambling for a replacement. Credit a snoozer of a quarterback class in the 2022 draft: Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral might be chosen in the second half of the first round.
‘‘None of the quarterbacks just completely blow you away,’’ NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.
The once-breathless predictions of star quarterbacks suiting up for new teams might not materialize, either. The Packers still are waiting on Aaron Rodgers to decide whether he wants to play in 2022 and, if so, whether he wants to play for them. Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday the Seahawks have ‘‘no intention’’ of trading Russell Wilson. Watson has 22 pending lawsuits and won’t be traded unless they’re adjudicated or settled. The 49ers are listening to offers for Jimmy Garoppolo, but he’s scheduled for shoulder surgery next week and might go the next four months without throwing a pass. Kirk Cousins has a year left on his deal with the Vikings.
That leaves Carson Wentz as the veteran quarterback most likely to be traded. He’s better than Trubisky, but not by much. Adding Trubisky doesn’t require trade compensation, either. He might be the second-best available free-agent quarterback to Jameis Winston.
Squint long enough, and you can talk yourself into anything.
‘‘For his ups and downs in Chicago, never said a negative word about anything,’’ Beane said. ‘‘And I’ve been around players when they’ve come from a stop that didn’t go as well, and they can’t help themselves: ‘Man, I like this place better because y’all do this and that.’ And Mitch? Never. He’s such a pro.’’
But is he a starter?
‘‘When given the opportunity to play, whether it was in preseason or the regular season, he did a phenomenal job,’’ McDermott said. ‘‘I think it’s unrealistic to think that we’re going to be able to have him back, but I want him to go on and do great things for him and his family, which I know he’s going to do.’’