In the 2017 NFL Draft, Chicago sent the 49ers the 67th and 111th overall picks and a 2018 third-round selection to move up from the third overall pick to the second pick in that draft. The Browns took Myles Garrett with the first overall selection, and the Chicago Bears took QB Mitch Trubisky in the second slot.
That 67th pick ended up being Alvin Kamara, and the 2018 third-rounder later became Fred Warner. The fact that those draft picks turned into two of the best players at their respective position isn’t really an indictment on Trubisky or the Bears, for that matter. What is better remembered from that draft is that Chicago chose Mitch Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, both of whom were drafted with the top dozen picks.
Mitch Trubisky is about to hit free agency. What should the Bears do with their QB?
But hey, that is water under the bridge. Since that auspicious draft day for Chicago, Trubisky has just finished up his fourth season, having appeared in 51 games, including 10 in 2020 as he prepares to lead the Bears into New Orleans for a Sunday playoff matchup. But before the 2020 season, Chicago declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option.
What should Chicago do about this? First off, it was evident that the Bears’ offense was much better with Trubisky behind center instead of Nick Foles. Foles isn’t the answer and really isn’t even an option. Chicago could comfortably move on from Foles after the 2021 season. So, for now, he needs to be considered as a 31-year-old backup and nothing more.
What kind of impact has Bill Lazor had on the Bears’ QB?
Things are trending up for the Bears offense, especially since Bill Lazor took over the play-calling duties and Mitch Trubisky took back over the starting job coming off the Bears’ Week 11 bye. Chicago’s offensive line has played better, and Lazor has done a great job of getting the ball in the hands of the Bears’ top two playmakers, David Montgomery and Allen Robinson.
Lazor also has Trubisky attempting more short and controlled throws, often off of play-action. He has better used Chicago’s offensive personnel by employing more double tight end sets than the Bears used early in the season. Lazor has also gotten Montgomery more involved as a route runner.
Trubisky’s numbers are up, particularly his completion percentage (67%) and yards per attempt (6.9), and the Bears are putting more points on the board than they did to start the season. All of these things are positives, of course.
Has Chicago’s schedule been a reason for their recent success?
Chicago’s schedule has been incredibly favorable to their offense, and the Bears could be in for a rude awakening in New Orleans, against one of the NFL’s top defenses. In Mitch Trubisky’s first start since taking over, the Bears fell to Green Bay, and they lost to the Packers again last week. But in between those two losses, Trubisky faced the Lions, Texans, Vikings, and Jaguars — clearly four of the worst defenses in the NFL. And the Packers’ defense is really just middle of the road.
Mitch Trubisky still misses far too many throws that a successful starting quarterback needs to make. He is certainly a good athlete with some tools to still work with, but his deep ball has always been a huge problem, and he also misses too many layup throws. Although he has been fortunate to get away with it of late, Trubisky also still puts the ball in harm’s way far too regularly. His luck in this capacity won’t keep up.
What kind of contract could keep Mitch Trubisky in Chicago?
Would Trubisky sign for somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million per year on a one or two-year contract? Probably not, but that might be worth a shot from Chicago’s standpoint at a friendly deal for the team.
The Bears could put the franchise tag on Trubisky. That would be expensive for what Trubisky brings to the table, but it would also give Chicago one more year to truly evaluate what they have in their former second overall pick. The problem with that is Robinson’s contract is also expiring. He is far more worthy of the tag than Trubisky. It might be the only way the Bears can keep Robinson in Chicago.
There are also some veteran quarterbacks with a track record that will likely be available in free agency. Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, Jacoby Brissett, and Andy Dalton come to mind. The Bears could also try to make a bigger splash move and trade for Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, Jimmy Garoppolo, or Sam Darnold if any of the four is truly available. However, it is highly unlikely that Detroit would trade Stafford, the best player of this group, within the division to the Bears.
Should the Bears replace their QB Mitch Trubisky in the 2021 NFL Draft?
As for the draft, Chicago is in the playoffs, so we don’t yet know where they will be picking in the first round. The Bears and Washington Football Team are the only two teams in the playoffs that do not have a winning record. If the Bears lose this week, Chicago will pick 20th.
Obviously, that isn’t the ideal spot to land a franchise quarterback prospect. Still, there are quite a few potential first-round quarterbacks this year, and even if it took a little trading up, the Bears could potentially get into that conversation. It might be quite costly, and, of course, quarterback prospects get scooped up quickly.
How to fix the Bears’ QB problem
So with all this information, here is how I would handle it. Again, Foles can’t even really come into the equation. First off, I would explore trade options with the names listed above — particularly Wentz and Darnold, both of whom have the tools to handle the Chicago weather conditions.
My next move would be to land Winston or Brissett on a more reasonable deal than what Mitch Trubisky would probably ask. I would not totally slam the door on bringing back Trubisky, but deep down, I think we know that he isn’t the answer, and Winston and Brissett would certainly be less expensive. And at this point, Trubisky’s price point is likely too high. If another team covets him, so be it.
Lastly, the draft should still be very much in play with all these options, even if a veteran is brought in from outside the Bears organization. That could mean a reasonable trade up in the first round, staying put in the first frame, or even just taking a chance on a day two quarterback to see what might stick. It isn’t ideal, but more likely than not, Trubisky shouldn’t be brought back to Chicago.