The Chicago Bears‘ plans for their first-round selection remain unclear three weeks before the 2021 NFL Draft. Rumors are still circulating on what position the team may target with the 20th overall selection or if they will trade up. Many believe the team could trade up to draft a quarterback because of both head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace but are not considering that it may be the McCaskey family that wants a quarterback.

A First Round Quarterback Provides The Franchise With An Insurance Policy

During the Bears’ year-end press conference following the playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, many believe that the 2021 season was a make or break season for Nagy and Pace. It has been the main reason why the general manager has been so aggressive in trying to find an elite quarterback this offseason, with Chicago being tied to every significant available name. Now that the Bears have Andy Dalton as a short-term solution, they are still in need of a long-term solution. This year’s draft is considered one of the best for quarterback prospects as five quarterbacks could be potentially drafted within the first ten selections.

Although drafting a quarterback in the first round would do nothing for Nagy and Pace in 2021, it would do a lot for the franchise as a whole if the team falters in 2021. Chicago’s head coach and the general manager will likely be fired if the team doesn’t make the playoffs. If both Pace and Nagy are replaced at the end of the 2021 season, the firings would lead to a rebuild, in which the Bears’ roster would be turned over. Unless the Bears have a top-five selection in the 2022 draft, it may be hard to attract both top-tier general manager and head coaching candidates to Chicago.

The one thing that can enable The Bears’ ownership to entice quality candidates to rebuild their roster would be a promising rookie quarterback. For example, If Chicago trades up in year’s draft to select either Mac Jones, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance, they would have a young quarterback already in place to assist potential general managers and head coaches in a rebuild.

One head coaching candidate that received a lot of attention this offseason was Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Brady is considered one of the best offensive minds in football and has the resume to back it up. In the last three years, he has been an effective play-caller for the Panthers, oversaw Joe Burrow’s historic year at LSU in 2019, and worked under Sean Payton in New Orleans in 2018. If the Bears move on from Nagy after 2021, they could potentially convince Brady to become the new head coach by having Jones, Fields, or Lance build the offense around.

A Rookie Quarterback Would Be The Only Exciting Aspect To The Bears In 2021

Another reason why Bears’ ownership would want the team to draft a quarterback this year is due to the excitement and ticket sales that would be generated. When the Bears drafted Mitchell Trubisky second overall in the 2017 Draft, many fans hated the choice until he played in his first game. When Trubisky made his preseason debut against the Denver Broncos, fans immediately went nuts for him as he completed his first ten passes and threw a touchdown. From that point on, the only reason why Bear fans all of their preseason games was to see the rookie quarterback play.

The excitement and enticement transferred over to the regular season as Trubisky led to ticket sales not falling off during the season when it became apparent the Bears were not going to make the playoffs. When the rookie made his first NFL start on Monday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings, all of Chicago was buzzing about the Bears game. It was the most excitement surrounding a game in quite some time for the team as they were mired in a rebuild for three seasons.

Despite the team only winning five games in 2017, fans continued to watch games and go to Bears’ home games just to see Trubisky’s growth game by game. Although the rookie quarterback went 2-4 during in his home game starts in 2017, the team was competitive as of the four losses, all were by seven points or less. Seeing fans still coming to games in late November and December, despite being out of playoff contention, makes a major difference for Bears ownership especially after it was noted how poor attendance was towards the end of the three win 2016 season.

Although trading up and drafting a quarterback has made many believe that it would ensure Pace and Nagy’s job safety after the 2021 season, it could mean just the opposite. The Bears may not make the playoffs, but they will not be bad enough to earn a top-five selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. Without a top pick or a franchise quarterback, trying to entice quality talents to oversee a rebuild after 2021 may be almost impossible for ownership. A first-round quarterback provides insurance against that, along with providing hope and excitement this season to a fan base desperate for any promise at the quarterback position.

 

Steve Pusch
Eastern Illinois University graduate, Steve earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism with a concentration in sports. While at EIU, Steve co-hosted a weekly radio sports talk show focused on Chicago.