Stunner: Bears trade 4 picks, take QB Mitch Trubisky
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PHILADELPHIA — Fittingly, Mitch Trubisky’s phone never rang.
The Bears, the team that had coveted Trubisky from afar — not meeting with him, working him out or inviting him to Halas Hall after his college pro day — had traded four picks to move up to the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s draft.
They turned in their selection, and commissioner Roger Goodell walked to the podium on the “Rocky” steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
When he read Trubisky’s name, the North Carolina quarterback was just as stunned as everyone else.
“It was a huge surprise for me and my family,” Trubisky said.
General manager Ryan Pace finally called the quarterback at 7:29 p.m. He handed the phone to coach John Fox, who laughed about the fact that Trubisky was already walking to greet the commissioner when the Bears tried to call.
The coach and GM’s reputations — if not future — are now irrevocably tied to the performance of a man who started only 13 games in his college career.
The Bears researched him, but mostly covertly. Pace and Fox were among a group to take him to dinner and put him through a quiet workout in Chapel Hill. He never went to Halas Hall for a meeting. Trubisky said Wednesday he was shocked the Bears didn’t show more interest in recent weeks.
Turns out they were intrigued, but at a major cost.
To draft only the franchise’s third first-round quarterback since Jim McMahon, the Bears paid a steep price just to move up only one spot. The 49ers used the Bears’ third overall pick to take Stanford’s Solomon Thomas. The Niners also received the Bears’ third- and fourth-round selections, Nos. 67 and 111, and a third-round pick next year.
Pace framed his move as bold — “If we want to be great, you just can’t sit on your hands,” he said. But some see it differently.
Asked about the 49ers getting extra picks and seemingly drafting the player they wanted all along, Jaguars executive vice president Tom Coughlin sounded jealous.
“Oh my God,” Coughlin told reporters, “Nothing like that’s ever come my way.”
The Bears made the trade even after Pace gave quarterback Mike Glennon a three-year, $45 million deal — although the $18.5 million guaranteed made the signing seemingly a one-year contract.
While Glennon will begin the season as the starter, there’s no doubt Trubisky is the quarterback of the future. For an administration that spent the last two seasons debating the virtues of Jay Cutler, it’s a significant bet.
Trubisky, who turns 23 in August, is ready for the expectations that come with not only his draft position but the number of selections the Bears traded for him.
“I’m glad they’re passionate about football, because so am I,” he said. “I love the game. And I gotta make it worthwhile. I’m glad they came up and got me. That shows they believe in me. I gotta be the future. I gotta help this team win in any way, shape, or form I can.”
Trubisky threw 30 touchdowns and only six interceptions, averaging 288 passing yards and a 68 percent completion mark in his only season as a starter. His advice to those who doubt him because of his mere 13 starts?
“Get ready to watch,” he said. “I’m just scratching the surface. I’ve been around the game for a long time. I don’t think anyone’s watched more film than me the last four years.
“The starts were out of my control. I took advantage of every opportunity I was given in college, and that’s how I got to this point.”
The Ohio native had wanted to play for the nearby Browns — he admitted that friends and family wondered whether he’d fit in Cleveland — but Trubisky is eager to make Chicago his new home.
“I’m going to block out all the distractions and I’m just gonna go to work,” he said. “It’s gonna be a grind, but I don’t think anyone’s gonna out-work me.
“I definitely have a lot to learn, as does every rookie, but I think my passion and love for this game and now my new love for Chicago is going to help me be successful.”
He has one trait that will please even the most skeptical Bears fan: Trubisky’s favorite player growing up was Walter Payton. He rented a library book in elementary school and was hooked.
“I learned about him and his life and what he did in Chicago,” he said. “I can’t wait to continue that winning legacy.”t to continue that winning legacy.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.