Everybody is talking about Carson Wentz this, Carson Wentz that. It’s easy enough to understand why. The Chicago Bears need a quarterback. Wentz is available and has ties to the coaching staff. John DeFilippo oversaw his best season in 2017 and is now the Bears’ passing game coordinator. Yet ultimately the decision comes down to two men. GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy.
Are they truly smitten with Wentz as the media would have you believe? There are doubts. While Pace liked Wentz coming out of North Dakota State, it’s fair to wonder if Nagy feels the same way. Remember he is good friends with Doug Pederson, the man Wentz helped run out of Philadelphia after their highly-public falling out in 2020. It’s felt the Bears’ interest, while there, is somewhat overblown.
This is why no trade has happened yet.
Last week I posed a question. Is it possible the team is using Wentz as a cover for pursuing a different quarterback opportunity? Pace has a long history of masking his intentions at that position. Nobody saw the move for Mitch Trubisky coming. Why would he make his desire for Wentz so obvious? It doesn’t fit his mode of operation. Then there are the red flags.
The 28-year old is coming off his worst season as a pro. He brings a gigantic contract with him, which is a problem for the cash-strapped Bears. There are concerns about his character in the locker room and also a history of being unable to stay healthy. If the Bears were going to take a risk with any move they make, why would it be for him?
Matt Nagy may be willing to gamble on somebody else
A source reached out to me with an interesting update. Wentz isn’t the QB they’re doing a ton of groundwork on at the moment. It’s believed a name people shouldn’t ignore is Sam Darnold. The former #3 overall pick in 2018 endured a rough three years with the New York Jets, surrounded by a bad roster and trapped under a bad head coach. Now it seems the organization could be prepping for a change. They hold the #2 pick and will have their choice of any QB not named Trevor Lawrence in the draft.
Why would Darnold interest the Bears? A number of reasons. First is his talent. The kid has all the tools you look for in a starting quarterback. Arm strength, mobility, and size. He can make some truly impressive throws. His problem has been consistency. Then there is the contract. Darnold is still on his rookie deal and would count just $4.7 million against the salary cap in 2021. Quite appealing to a team like the Bears.
Also, don’t forget he’s still just 23-years old.
One important factor? Matt Nagy himself likes Darnold. He was apparently a fan of the USC product back in 2018 and that admiration hasn’t diminished despite his struggles in New York. Last but not least is compensation. While some think a 1st round pick is possible, most believe Darnold should end up costing a 2nd round pick and maybe an additional mid rounder. This would allow the Bears to retain their 1st round pick, which they could use to fortify their offensive line.
Matt Bowen of ESPN said this would be an option if Nagy survived back in December.
“IF MATT NAGY IS BACK AS THE BEARS’ HEAD COACH IN 2021, THEN I SEE CHICAGO MAKING A MOVE FOR DARNOLD. THE VALUE? CHICAGO SENDS A 2021 SECOND-ROUND PICK AND A 2022 FIFTH-ROUND PICK TO NEW YORK. MITCHELL TRUBISKY WILL BE A FREE AGENT, AND NICK FOLES ISN’T THE ANSWER. THE BEARS WILL NEED A STARTING QUARTERBACK, AND DARNOLD — DESPITE HIS INCONSISTENT PLAY — HAS FIRST-ROUND TRAITS.”
Was Darnold their target all along? Not exactly. There are obviously more desired options out there. Yet names like Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, and Derek Carr appear out of reach. Along with the top QBs in the draft. So if it comes down to choosing between Wentz and Darnold? They’re willing to roll the dice on the younger, cheaper guy without the baggage.