With the NFL’s free agency period opening in earnest six days from now, I expect a healthy helping of quarterback rumors to be plopped onto our collective plate. And because the Bears are desperately seeking the right fit at the position (what else is new?), brace yourselves to see Chicago’s football team connected to a great many possibilities. Moreover, prepare to parse through wording and connections for any and every option who jumps on our radar.
Take Sam Darnold, for instance.
The Bears first popped up in connection to Darnold last October. But even after the trade deadline passed, the rumors persisted. On more than one occasion in November, he was mentioned as a possible offseason fit for Chicago. Fast forward to February, and one ESPN analyst predicted Darnold would be the Bears next starting QB. Rumors on the potential return eventually popped up, with some believing the Jets could net a late first-rounder (which is precisely where the Bears will pick in 2021 … thus, the connection was again revisited).
All of which brings us to the latest from SI.com’s Albert Breer, who tried to identify the interested parties chasing Darnold this offseason, and in so doing identified Chicago:
“As for teams to watch, three in particular are interesting to me: Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. Two of the three, Chicago and Washington, were playoff teams in 2020, aren’t in striking distance to draft one of the top guys and may not think developing a rookie, given where they’re at, is the best play. San Francisco would be even more fascinating. Darnold’s a strong fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and trading for him would make the Niners six years younger, and $20 million cheaper at the position in 2020. The Niners like Jimmy Garoppolo, as we’ve said here, and won’t move off him without a clear upgrade. Could Darnold be that?”
There are a few important things I’d like to point out about how Breer offers up these teams. For starters, he does not directly connect any of those teams as having interest. And Breer doesn’t write about these teams as if they have made calls to the Jets. Phrasing and context matter, especially this time of year when digging through rumors.
Of course, none of this is to say the Bears aren’t interested. It’s just that there is a difference between a team being interested and a team being an interesting fit. It’s a fine line, but it’s not 1-for-1. Either way, we can’t just ignore it. Breer has been in tune with the Bears’ stuff throughout the year. Whether it was the preseason QB situation (on several fronts, actually), Pat Fitzgerald coaching rumors in-season, and the Carson Wentz stuff earlier this offseason. Breer’s been on it it for the better part of a year. And for what it’s worth, he’s been a source at the forefront of discussing Darnold rumors. So now that he’s putting the two together? Could be a coincidence. Possibly happenstance. But in any case, interesting, and I wanted you to see it.