In a piece in which The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia shares 20 bold predictions, there is one that stands out above the rest because of how it impacts the Chicago Bears.
The Bears land a previously oft-rumored, probably-available quarterback:
20 bold NFL predictions for 2020:
* Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers and Cam Newton changing teams.
* Stefon Diggs and OBJ getting traded.
* The Bengals making the playoffs.
* Devin Singletary leading the NFL in rushing yards.
More here: https://t.co/w90Fs1lJO8
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) February 5, 2020
Kapadia predicts the Bears will trade for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles.
OK, so maybe that’s not as bold as you might have expected. After all, Foles has been on our radar for quite some time. Remember, Foles’ name popped up in October as a possible trade option when Gardner Minshew’s ascent in Jacksonville was beginning (while Foles was on injured reserve with a broken clavicle), but was pulled off the trade market just days before the deadline. By December, Foles was benched for Minshew again, which put him back on our radar heading into the offseason.
Bold prediction or not, this is worth exploring.
The Bears are in somewhat of an awkward place with Mitch Trubisky as their quarterback. Head Coach Matt Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace aren’t ready to give up on Trubisky in any kind of public way. Hence, their commitment to him as the starter in 2020. And yet, the commitment is one that comes with the caveats, hence what Pace said at his season-ending press conference:
“We’re looking to increase competition at every position. Mitch is our starter and we believe in Mitch and we believe in the progress that he’s going to continue to make. But two of the three players in that room are free agents. The quarterback room is critical and it’s important for us. We’re always going to try to make it better, but as far as who it is and we’re going to do, we’re not there yet.”
These comments from Pace suggest the Bears want competition at quarterback, and they currently have two open seats in the QB room. In one decent scenario for the Bears, that competition might take the form of someone good enough to start, but who is ultimately OK with being a backup. A quarterback who can get you through a season, but who could do so without being a threatening presence to Trubisky’s quest to maintain his starting role would be a valuable addition in Chicago. One who could mentor Trubisky (much like Chase Daniel did the last two seasons), but also fill in when called upon. Or, who could just flat-out take the reins in week one if it’s clear over the summer that Trubisky isn’t the guy.
Through that lens, Foles, 31, seems like a solid candidate to fill one of the two open spots on the quarterback depth chart. Foles knows the system, has been successful in it, and is familiar with Head Coach Matt Nagy, Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor, and QBs Coach John DeFilippo, each of whom has coached the veteran signal caller at some point during his career.
Now that we have settled on Kapadia’s prediction being bold but sensible, the toughest hurdles to clear remain: the return in a hypothetical trade and how the Bears can come up with a deal while maintaining some cap space.
Foles, 30, signed a four-year, $88 million contract (which included $50 million in guarantees) with the Jaguars last offseason. Between the hefty salary and the Jaguars’ move toward handing the keys to Minshew, Jacksonville should be motivated sellers. Thus, the price tag in trade is probably not a prohibitive consideration. (Heck, the Bears might be able to pick up a lower-round pick just for taking on the contract …. )
But with the Bears having just $4,929,361 in available salary cap space, according to OverTheCap.com’s estimations, fitting in Foles’ cap number at $21,837,500 would be a serious challenge, especially if he’s viewed as a potential caddy. That said, it’s not as if there aren’t still ways to clear some space, then also the possibility of working some magic via a restructuring of Foles’ contract (best left for Pace and his gang of capologists). If the Bears truly wanted to make this work, they probably could.
Of course, that would also require the Bears buying that Foles’ quality 2018 season with the Eagles was more legit than his injury-and-effectiveness meh 2019 in Jacksonville.