If it isn’t too early to discuss potential Bears targets in the NFL draft next April, then it definitely isn’t too early to contemplate that multi-million dollar question facing the Bears next May.
So … What will the team do regarding quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s fifth-year option?
Over at The Athletic, Mike Sando reached out to NFL executives in order to piece together a projection for the fifth-year option decisions facing each of the 32 first-round picks of the 2017 NFL Draft. Among the most difficult decisions in that arena will be made by the Bears, who have – what Sando projects to be – a $25.1 million option for the fifth-year of Trubisky’s rookie option.
Yes, you read that correctly. Sando’s projections for fifth-year options on quarterbacks taken with the first 10 picks of the 2017 NFL Draft will have an estimated cost of $25.1 million – a hefty commitment, to say the least. Because even if the cap goes up to $200 million (as we’re expecting), we’re still looking at a player whose salary chews up an estimated 12.6% of that total. For the sake of comparison, Trubisky’s 2019 salary takes up just 4.1% of the team’s cap and only 1.9% of the team’s cash spending.
So … what should the Bears do?
Frankly, I vibe with what one anonymous executive told Sando:
“What Chicago ought to do is pick it up (the option) but do everything in their power to find the next guy. Identify a quarterback in the draft. Do everything possible to beat this guy out.”
This particular executive pointed out what the Titans did to create competition for 2015 first-round pick (and rumored possible Bears target) Marcus Mariota this season. Mariota was given the keys to the castle to start the year, but Tennessee eventually pulled the plug, turned the deed over to Ryan Tannehill, and watched him put the team in position to make a run at the postseason. And as we mentioned a few days ago, Tannehill is even getting consideration for a contract extension with the team. Without diving too deep into how the Bears could go about going down that path, following the Tennessee blueprint is sensible and logical.
As for what the Bears will do, one executive “guaranteed” the Bears would pick up the option. But the general vibe from those Sando spoke with was that Chicago would do so as to not “undermine” Trubisky at this stage of his contract, or offer up an admission that they made a mistake to trade up and take him. Ultimately, the Bears are committed to Trubisky for at least the 2020 season. And even if they were to commit to a fifth year at a price north of $25 million, there are escape hatches the team could use in case things go south.