The Bears have a long-term hole under center, an uncertain near-term future with Jay Cutler, and a wide array of avenues available to them this offseason for dealing with those two items. GM Ryan Pace said at the close of the season that “everything” was on the table for the Bears when it comes to putting in place a quarterback this offseason, be it via the draft, via a player already on the roster, via free agency, or … via a trade.
And, on that last one, the name you most frequently hear popping up in speculation is New England backup Jimmy Garoppolo, a Chicago-area native who is under contract for just one more season.
I’m going to guess we’ll be hearing a whole lot more about Garoppolo this offseason. Per Jason La Canfora:
“The Chicago Bears will make a strong, concerted effort to acquire quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. The Illinois native is far and away their top offseason priority.”
Garoppolo is currently occupied in Houston at the Super Bowl, but very soon his future will come into public question. Carrying so much value as a trade candidate, the Patriots may be compelled to move him this offseason, despite the fact that having a capable back-up behind a soon-to-be-40-year-old Tom Brady heading into the 2017 season would otherwise be advisable.
Assuming the Patriots do make Garoppolo available, La Canfora’s report indicates that the Bears “could not be more serious” about trying to land him.
In limited duty subbing for Brady during his early-season suspension, Garoppolo was fantastic this season … for a game and a half, at least, before he hurt his shoulder. There are reasons to dream on the 25-year-old’s upside, though the acquisition cost has previously been rumored to start with a first round pick, and the one the Bears have available is exceedingly high. Indeed, La Canfora reports that rival executives believe the Patriots cannot land a pick that high for Garoppolo.
(Of course, if the Bears truly believe Garoppolo is their next franchise quarterback, then you could make the argument that no pick is too high of a price, given the importance of the position. Not that I’m going to make that argument. All assets have to be given a set and certain value, after all.)
Still, as we’ve discussed before, Garoppolo is an unrestricted free agent after 2017, meaning the Bears would be trading for either a one-year try-out, or trading with the intention of inking Garoppolo to a significant extension. Risks abound, but if they could pull it off for less than their 2017 first rounder? That seems like a no-brainer.
The Bears wouldn’t be alone in their pursuit of Garoppolo if he’s made available, of course. The Browns are consistently mentioned as a suitor, and, with the number 12 pick in the first round (in addition to the top pick overall), they may be in a more comfortable position to offer a palatable first round draft pick.
La Canfora expects talks on Garoppolo to heat up at the NFL Combine, which begins at the end of this month. There’s a ton more in his report, so you’re going to want to check it out. The quarterback market will continue to shake out in the coming weeks, and it’s important to remember the interrelationships between the other possible moves out there – be they trades, free agent/franchise decisions, or draft plans – and the Bears’ ability to actually land Garoppolo.
Implicit in all of this, by the way, is the assumption that the Bears will be moving on this offseason from long-time starter Jay Cutler. As for the future of backups Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer, each or both could still be kept around in a variety of roles, depending on how the offseason plays out for the Bears.