In search of a quarterback to tie together their rebuild, the Chicago Bears selected Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. In doing so, they (in)famously passed on both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, two highly thought of quarterback prospects in that same draft class.
It’s a topic we’ve been forced to discuss at length since that draft happened, but Watson appeared to shed new light on the situation in a Friday night tweet – unfortunately, it wasn’t the most flattering addition to an already embarrassingly poor narrative for the Chicago Bears:
The bears NEVER ONCE talked to me.. https://t.co/nMX7JKW99P
— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) May 9, 2020
Watson’s tweet claiming “The Bears NEVER ONCE talked to me” before the 2017 NFL Draft was an eyebrow-raiser. At minimum, it’s a rough look for GM Ryan Pace, whose team lacks a suitable long-term quarterback solution after he passed on Watson (a two-time Pro Bowler) and Mahomes (who followed an MVP-winning season by bringing home a Super Bowl title and game MVP award). And for the tweet to come down in the wake of the news that Chicago did not pick up the fifth-year option on Trubisky’s rookie deal only adds salt to the wound.
But here’s the thing … the Bears did talk to Watson.
At least, according to Deshaun Watson circa 2017:
Deshaun Watson says visited KC, CLE, JAX, 49ers, Cardinals, Texans, Jets, Bills… spoke to Bears, Ravens, Chargers on the phone. #NFLDraft
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) April 21, 2017
In an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show days before the 2017 NFL Draft, Watson mentioned the Bears as one of the teams he talked to in a phone interview. In some corners, this has been defended as a player drumming up interest or creating leverage for his situation. But that feels part disingenuous and part revisionist. And in either case, it’s not a reasonable defense – which is NOT to absolve the Bears of their misfire in the first place.
Ultimately, I find myself circling back to something I wrote about the future of the Bears’ quarterbacking position in December:
“At a higher level, Chicago’s front office needs to re-evaluate their entire quarterbacking process. All of it. Every crevice, nook, and cranny. It needs to be an all-encompassing deep dive into the position. From top to bottom. This needs to be a complete tear-down and rebuild of the position group. Everything from the players, coaches, scouts, evaluation techniques, process, language … everything. Any part that led the Bears to where they are to day with this quarterback situation needs to be under the microscope, put through the ringer, picked apart, analyzed, and evaluated.”
I stand by that to this day. Because, no matter what processes the Bears used to do their homework on Watson and the other quarterbacks back in 2017, they still came up with the wrong choice. And because of that, the whole thing needs to be re-evaluated. We didn’t need Watson’s tweet to tell us that, but I suppose there’s nothing wrong with a reality check.