The Chicago Bears get to sit back and watch the reality of the modern NFL for the rest of the playoffs. Basically, if you don’t have a quarterback, don’t expect to stay in for long. Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson are the only ones left. Three of those guys are Hall of Famers. Another two are former MVPs. The last two are former #1 overall picks.
Without a good quarterback, it’s almost impossible to compete for a Super Bowl these days. The Bears haven’t had one in a long, long time. Not without trying of course. They traded for Jay Cutler in 2009. He had some nice moments but struggled with consistency. They drafted Mitch Trubisky 2nd overall after trading up in 2017. Again he had nice moments but struggled with consistency.
Now here the team is again, entering an offseason searching for answers. Free agency looks devoid. The draft doesn’t seem possible with only the 20th pick in the 1st round. Right now it seems like the best hope for GM Ryan Pace to find his next QB is the trade market. What do his options look like and who is the most likely among them?
Chicago Bears QB options on the trade market
#7 – Matthew Stafford
The longtime Detroit Lions star continues to be a model of consistency, topping 4,000 yards with 26 TD passes and 10 interceptions. People love to rag on him for being a big reason why the team can’t make the playoffs which is a laughable accusation. The Lions never get there because their defenses are routinely bad and it’s hard to make the playoffs with only one side of the team being good. Now with another rebuild on the way, the fate of the 32-year old quarterback is in question.
Trade likelihood: Minimal
The reality is that even if the Lions do consider trading Stafford, there is no way they’re sending him to a division rival like Chicago. Not without an astronomical trade package. That aside, it doesn’t seem Detroit will consider moving on anyway. Their new GM and head coach are in place and the two hires don’t signal any intent to start completely over. He’s not too old by QB standards. There is still a window to compete if they can repair the defense quickly.
#6 – Carson Wentz
It’s crazy to think Wentz was an MVP contender back in 2017 and had a career year in 2019. Then in a matter of months, he developed a heated relationship with his head coach, threw 15 interceptions before getting benched, and requested a trade out of Philadelphia. This forced Eagles ownership to fire Doug Pederson or risk the locker room splitting apart completely. Does this mean Wentz is safe though?
Trade likelihood: Low
Recent reports indicate ownership and the front office are telling head coach candidates they’d prefer to keep Wentz. So the odds of him being traded immediately go down. Combine that with the recent bombshell that he was purposely changing plays during a game just to spite Pederson? Not to mention his enormous salary cap hit over well over $30 million. The Chicago Bears can go ahead and scratch this one off.
#5 – Deshaun Watson
It’s incredible to think things got this far. Deshaun Watson looked like he’d be the face of the Houston Texans franchise when he inked his new contract for $154 million. Then in the space of months, the organization managed to alienate him with repeated shows of disrespect and decisions that he personally didn’t like. It’s gotten to a point where prominent insiders all agree that he wants out.
Trade likelihood: Low
It’s not that Watson won’t be available or that the Bears won’t be interested. Both are quite possible. The problem is the details. Chicago can’t put together a trade package that would likely interest Houston more than other teams. They have no top 10 pick and no QB they can send back in return. Besides that, it’s fair to wonder if Watson would even want to come to Chicago. Remember he has some control of where he goes given the no-trade clause in his new contract. The logistics just aren’t there.
#4 – Sam Darnold
The former #3 overall pick has endured a difficult first three years in the NFL playing for a bad team. One devoid of complementary talent and also quality coaching. Now with the New York Jets holding the #2 overall pick in the 2021 draft, there is a serious chance they might look to start fresh at quarterback. Give new head coach Robert Saleh his own guy and deal Darnold elsewhere.
Trade likelihood: Low
Adam Schefter reported recently that it appears GM Joe Douglas isn’t looking quarterback at #2 overall as some think. He is intent on sticking with Darnold in a new system and hopefully better talent and coaching around him. The young man is still only 23-years old and talented. New York will either take the best player available at #2 or try to move out of that spot via trade. Besides, given Darnold’s inconsistency, he was never a likely target for the Bears anyway.
#3 – Derek Carr
This continues to be such an odd story. Carr just finished his best season in the NFL. Over 4,000 yards with 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Las Vegas had the 10th-ranked scoring offense in the NFL. Yet rumors persist that head coach Jon Gruden may consider making a change at the position. Not to mention several fans being tired of the 30-year old due to his failure to get the team to the playoffs. As if that’s his fault and not consistently bad defenses.
Trade likelihood: Medium
Carr represents what most should consider the most ideal realistic scenario for the Chicago Bears. His contract has two years left at a manageable dollar amount at $21 million on average. He is in his prime and boasts the kind of arm that would be perfect for Soldier Field. Gruden already proved his unpredictability with the Khalil Mack trade. If Pace comes hard enough, this isn’t impossible.
#2 – Matt Ryan
The Atlanta Falcons fired their head coach and GM in the middle of a season. Now they’re sitting with the #4 overall pick in the draft. Their veteran quarterback, while still very good, is going to be 36 this year and his contract is likely holding the team back from making any significant moves to improve the overall roster. This feel like it might be their prime opportunity to start over at that position.
Trade likelihood: Medium
In terms of what Nagy is looking for in a quarterback? Ryan fits the bill. In order to run this offense, he needs somebody who is cerebral and can operate from the pocket. Read the coverage and go to where the open man should be. Ryan has done that for most of his career. The problem is his salary cap number will be $40 million in 2021. Ridiculously high and something the Bears just can’t absorb.
#1 – Jimmy Garoppolo
It’s crazy to think Garoppolo was one incompletion away from likely winning the Super Bowl for the San Francisco 49ers. He had such a good year in 2019, throwing for 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His problem has been one of health. He tore his ACL in 2018. Then this past year he was undone by a recurring ankle problem that eventually landed him on Injured Reserve. Now the 49ers have a dilemma. Do they seek an alternative now that his contract carries little dead money left or do they stick it out?
Trade likelihood: High
There is speculation that San Francisco might even cut him. That should tell the story of whether or not they’d be willing to trade him. For the Chicago Bears, Garoppolo wouldn’t be expensive in terms of draft compensation. His salary cap hit is definitely high ($26.9 million) but there are some ways around that. His pocket presence and quick release make a solid fit for the offense Nagy likes to run and they are free to cut him next year if it doesn’t work out.
Ideal? No. Just the mos likely option they can get.