The Chicago Bears are at a crossroads. After delivering a dud in 2019, they must make changes at important positions to get back on the winning track. One way to achieve that goal is through free agency. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more promising and available free agents to see if there’s a fit for the Bears in 2020.
Potential Target, Age (in 2020), Position
Nicholas Edward Foles, 31, quarterback
Season stats: 4 games, 77/117 (65.8%), 736 passing yards, 3 TD, 2 INT, 84.6 rating
Pro Football Focus grade: 65.0 – Foles did not qualify for the leaderboard, but would rank 27th between Daniel Jones and Marcus Mariota if he did.
Foles signed a huge free agent contract (more on that in a moment) before the 2019 season, suffered a broken collarbone in his first game with the team, unexpectedly lost his starting job to a hot-shot rookie quarterback, re-gained his gig upon returning from injury, lost it (again) after a few games, and is now reportedly on the trade block. Phew. That was a lot for one season.
Performance Before 2019
Stats: 54 games (44 starts), 974/1,581 (11,165 yards, 68 TD, 33 INT, 88.5 rating
Pro Football Focus grades: 56.5 (2012), 78.3 (2013), 65.1 (2014), 59.8 (2015), 67.2 (2016), 73.2 (2017), 76.6 (2018)
Foles’ breakout in 2014 was a welcome surprise in Philly. He made the Pro Bowl, as he racked up 27 touchdowns with a league leading 8.5 TD% (he minimized interceptions with a minuscule 0.6 INT% after tossing just two picks in 317 attempts). He also finished with 2,891 yards, a 64 percent completion rate, and a postseason for his Eagles.
This is where I mention that Bill Lazor (currently the Bears’ offensive coordinator) was Foles’ QBs Coach when this magical season happen. That’s worth pointing out.
On the other end of the starting spectrum, Foles struggled with the St. Louis Rams in 2015. His TD% plummeted from 6.4 percent in Philadelphia to 2.1 percent in St. Louis and INT% jumped from 1.9 percent with the Eagles to 3 percent with the Rams. Maybe he was bored? Maybe he needed to link up with Matt Nagy and Andy Reid in 2016. Either way, Foles was back to being good once he returned to Philadelphia. He won Super Bowl MVP honors, as he guided the Eagles to a championship after replacing an injured Carson Wentz. And a year later, he led the team to another postseason win in a game that I really have no interest in re-visiting at the moment.
Possible Trade and Contract Considerations
A bold prediction from The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia put the idea of trading for Foles back on our radar in February. Though, dealing for him has real hurdles to clear. Namely, that contract.
Foles signed a four-year deal with the Jaguars worth up to $88 million in March 2019.
The contract included $50.125 million in guarantees, $45.125 million of which was fully guaranteed at signing. Wowzers! The structure of the deal has Foles’ 2020 cap number at $21,837,500. So if the Bears were to trade for him (and that outrageous cap number), it would chew up a ton of their available cap space. Which leads us to the idea of the Jags throwing in a sweetener to make a deal more appetizing. Jacksonville has six picks in the first four rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft. Perhaps offering a second-round draft pick would entice the Bears enough to be interested. Maybe a more realistic addition could be a fourth-round pick (of which Jacksonville has two and Chicago has none) and a hint of cap relief on top.
No one said it would be easy, but the Browns and Texans executed a similar deal when Brock Osweiler’s deal (and draft pick capital) was sent from Houston to Cleveland,
Chicago is in a somewhat awkward spot with Mitch Trubisky. On one hand, it’s already out there that the team wants to shake up the quarterbacks room by adding a veteran with starting experience and a unique pedigree. But on the other hand, GM Ryan Pace has offered up a verbal commitment to back Trubisky as QB1 to start the 2020 season. So, ideally, the Bears’ QB2 is someone who won’t overtly threaten Trubisky for the starting gig in training camp, but can take over if things go south quickly. If that’s the case, then Foles is an ideal candidate.
Foles has proven himself to be a capable backup and starting-caliber quarterback when given the right system and weapons around him. A system put in place by Matt Nagy (who had Foles in Philly and KC), Bill Lazor (also had Foles with the Eagles), and John DeFilippo (who worked with Foles in Philadelphia and Jacksonville) would be an old hat for Foles if he landed in Chicago.
On the surface, Foles has the look of an ideal bridge quarterback. There is no denying that. Although, the cost of doing business might be too much to make a move on the trade market right now. It’s possible that Foles could be cut at some point this offseason if the Jaguars believe a $12.037M cap loss won’t be too damaging to their offseason plans. With that in mind, Foles remains on our radar as a possible trade target whose acquisition could net the Bears some much-needed draft capital.