Nobody wants to say the words because they hurt too much. Especially so early in the offseason. Yet they must be said. The Chicago Bears are not landing a legitimate top 15 quarterback. Deshaun Watson? Dak Prescott? Derek Carr? They’re fun what-ifs. Sadly they’re also pipe dreams. The same goes for Zach Wilson and Justin Fields in the draft. The amount of resources it would require to land any of those names, even if it were remotely possible, is enormous. It’s time to start thinking about practical solutions. So why not Gardner Minshew?

The title was meant to grab attention for a reason. Nobody would consider the former 6th round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars a top veteran option even among the second-tier guys. Most conversations start with Sam Darnold, Marcus Mariota, Andy Dalton, and even Alex Smith. People tend to dismiss the Minshew idea as a pointless endeavor. Why is that? They shouldn’t. There are multiple reasons for the Bears to consider him as a viable choice.

Let’s just start with the most obvious: cost.

Taken late in the 2019 NFL draft, Minshew is now 25-years old. He has two years left on his rookie contract. The cap hits during those two years? Just $897,000 in 2021 and $1.012 million in 2022. Remember the Bears are currently projected to be over the NFL salary cap by anywhere from $3-5 million. Finding a quarterback who can be a bargain for their payroll would be a much-needed boost.

Jacksonville holds the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. Barring a complete surprise, expectations are they will select Clemson standout Trevor Lawrence to be their new quarterback. This will relegate Minshew to a backup role for the Jaguars. That is unless a team is willing to give up something for him in a trade. A recent example is Buffalo trading Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland for a 3rd round pick given they had plans to select Josh Allen in the draft that year.

It’s fair to say Minshew would cost somewhere between a 3rd and a 5th. This would enable the Bears to retain their limited cap space and top draft choices to fortify the rest of the offensive roster.

The second argument? Gardner Minshew actually isn’t half bad

Let’s break this down. People are more than eager to go after guys like Darnold and Mariota because they’re former high draft choices, still relatively young, and remain physically gifted. Yet their performances can’t line up with Minshew in terms of quality.

Last 20 starts:

Minshew

  • 62.9 completion percentage
  • 5,530 passing yards
  • 37 TDs
  • 11 INTs
  • 93.1 passer rating

Darnold

  • 60.22 completion percentage
  • 4,155 passing yards
  • 22 TDs
  • 15 INTs
  • 81.4 passer rating
Mariota
  • 65.36 completion percentage
  • 3,841 passing yards
  • 19 TDs
  • 10 INTs
  • 92.1 passer rating

Gardner Minshew has more passing yards, passing touchdowns, and a higher passer rating than either Darnold or Mariota. Don’t bother using the excuse he played on a better team either. Mariota played on consistently better rosters with better coaching during his final run in Tennessee. Darnold’s Jets actually won nine games his past two years in New York. Jacksonville managed just seven. So he was more productive despite having as bad or a worse surrounding roster than either of them.

Nobody is saying the man is a star-level talent. He’s average-sized (6’2), with an average arm, and isn’t known for his mobility. His strengths center on his confidence, football intelligence, work ethic, and throwing accuracy. Viable traits in the hands of coaches who recognize their worth.

The third argument? Chicago has coaches who know him well.

Minshew’s standout rookie year in 2019 took the NFL by storm. It garnered the title “Minshew Mania.” The architect behind his rather shocking rise to stardom? That was John DeFilippo. He was the offensive coordinator for the Jaguars that year and played a central role in elevating his play. He also happens to be the Bears’ quarterbacks coach and new passing game coordinator.

Then there is head coach Matt Nagy himself. Minshew revealed in an interview after being drafted that two teams showed the most interest in him. One was Jacksonville and the other was Chicago. He and Nagy reportedly hit it off really well. The Bears head coach was a fan. In the end, the two didn’t get the chance to connect. Now another opportunity presents itself.

Nobody is saying Gardner Minshew is the definitive answer everybody is waiting for. Still, the guy has shown he can play good football if given the right surroundings. He has the makings of a solid bridge option who can buy time until somebody better comes along.