I can’t imagine the decision to decline the fifth-year option on Mitch Trubisky’s rookie contract was an easy one for Bears GM Ryan Pace.
Because even though most signs pointed in this direction, not exercising the option must have been a tough pill to swallow for a front office that invested a lot to move up to select Trubisky with the second pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and build around him with (1) a stellar defense, (2) an offense with some intriguing pieces, (3) a coaching staff loaded with quarterback whispers, and (4) a passer-friendly offense.
Even still, the decision was made, and Pace recently chimed in with some reasoning during an appearance on “Bears All-Access” on 670 The Score:
“There’s dates you’ve got to make decisions by, and internally when this happens, we make those decisions. And we’ve always had the approach where we’re honest and we’re truthful without our players and with our staff, and then we move on and we get to work. That’s where it’s at. Mitch gets it. Everyone’s competing. Everyone’s focusing on better results. That’s the entire team. That starts with me and everybody. We believe in Mitch. That doesn’t change.”
Pace’s explanation was less of a what went into the decision and more of a standard statement declaring what happened. In the end, Pace’s words were similar to the vibes he had been putting out most of the offseason — a public display of faith (I guess “we believe in Mitch” is the new “Rex is our quarterback”) followed by a commitment to move on without him if that’s what has to happen for the betterment of the Bears organization.
For what it’s worth, Pace offered up a silver lining for Trubisky, who doesn’t need to look far for inspiration.
“I think you can point to Kyle Fuller as a great example of a player who didn’t get his option exercised,” Pace said. “and I think we would say it’s worked out well for him and for us.”
When Pace declined the fifth-year option on Fuller’s rookie deal, the cornerback was coming off a season that was lost to injury (one in which his coordinator publicly questioned his desire to play the game). All Fuller did was get healthy, put together a solid year, earn the Transition tag, and reel in a solid multi-year offer from the Packers (which was matched by the Bears). Since then, Fuller has put together back-to-back Pro Bowl years, including a first-team All-Pro campaign in 2018.
Indeed, things have worked out for Fuller (who has played his best ball since his option was declined) and the Bears (who have received premier cornerback play from a first-round pick who looked to be on his way out the door). If history repeats itself with Trubisky following in Fuller’s footsteps, then we’ll have to open ourselves up to a different conversation. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it in due time.