Whenever a quarterback has signed a big-money deal over the past couple years, I immediately tried to figure out how it related to Mitch Trubisky’s future.
Because while he was still a ways away from extension eligibility, it was good to keep in mind where contracts were heading, relatively speaking. Fortunately, a year later, we have a little more clarity about what his future might hold (performance and financially speaking) — even as it’s unlike anything we would’ve projected after a Pro Bowl season in 2018.
So clear your minds, because what you’re about to learn will be jarring.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell estimates the fifth-year option on Trubisky’s contract will be worth more than $24 million(!) in 2021. That’s a whopper of a one-year salary for a quarterback whose erratic play already has us looking at alternatives via trade or the 2020 NFL Draft.
In a piece in which Barnwell examines which players and coaches have the most to gain (or lose) in 2019, the ESPN football writer opines that Trubisky is playing for the Bears to exercise his fifth-year option. And while declining that option feels obvious right now, Barnwell thinks the Bears could pick it up because of what happened when GM Ryan Pace declined Kyle Fuller’s fifth-year option. Remember, Pace did not exercise the option, then watched Fuller put together a career year that ultimately led to the team placing the transition tag on him. The Bears could have saved some cash by placing the tag on Fuller, but the two sides came together on a multi-year deal that keeps a first-team All-Pro cornerback in town at a cost that doesn’t break the bank.
Perhaps the Fuller experience will be running through Pace’s mind when he has to make that decision regarding his quarterback. But whatever his decision is shouldn’t be based on what happened in the past … with a different player … on defense.
Instead, the Bears should be looking toward the future when discussing the most important position on the field. The worst thing the Bears could do is double down on Trubisky because of what happened with Fuller or because of the draft capital that was invested to move up to select Trubisky with the second pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Chicago’s decision regarding Trubisky’s future should be based on how he plays, how he projects moving forward, and the cost of retaining him relative to his value to the team and the cost of his contract as it relates to keeping players at other positions.
In short, it won’t be an easy decision. Though that one-year price tag north of $24 million is making me itchy just thinking about it. Luckily, the Bears don’t have to make that call until May 2020.