Pro Football Weekly Chicago Bears beat writer Bob LeGere is going position by position and breaking down where the Bears stand entering an offseason in which they're armed with more than $40 million in cap space and seven draft picks, including No. 8 overall. First up on LeGere's positional offseason analysis series: Quarterbacks.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace is convinced he has his franchise quarterback in Mitch Trubisky.
But the depth chart behind the second overall pick in 2017 is uncertain. Mike Glennon, who was brought in to be the bridge to Trubisky, turned out to be a bridge too short — and too expensive — lasting just four games as the starter. Glennon will not be back at his current pay rate: $12.5 million base. His release would save the Bears $8 million.
No. 3 Mark Sanchez was inactive for all 16 games in 2017 on a one-year deal. But the nine-year veteran was considered a valuable mentor to Trubisky and an experienced asset in the QB room, and he could be re-signed to play a similar role going forward.
Sanchez has thrown just 18 passes in the previous two seasons, and he hasn’t started a game since 2015, so what remains of his playing ability is a bit of a mystery. But, at 31, and with minimal wear and tear in the past several seasons, he should be serviceable in the short run.
It makes no sense to move on from Sanchez, since he and Trubisky already have a rapport, especially if he’s content to re-up at the same modest salary ($2 million). If not, there is an abundance of veteran backups to choose from.
At 38, former Bear Josh McCown might be too old, but he’s been disavowing people of that notion for several years. Forty of his 73 career starts have come in the previous five seasons, including 13 last year, when he had a 94.5 passer rating.
A more youthful option is 28-year-old Blaine Gabbert, who has started 18 games over the past three seasons, at least five each year. The former first-round pick has ideal size (6-foot-5, 235) and very good mobility.
Somewhere in between, age-wise, is 32-year-old Chad Henne, who has 53 NFL starts, but none in the past three years, and he hasn’t completed a pass since 2014. After going 13-14 as a starter with the Dolphins from 2009-10, Henne is 5-21 since then with Miami and Jacksonville, where he started 13 times in 2013.
At 35, and after 119 starts, Ryan Fitzpatrick still has something in the tank, and the Bears are one of a dwindling number of NFL teams he hasn’t played for. Fitzpatrick has started games for seven teams, and the last time he didn’t start at least three games in a season was 2007.
The Bears will not invest a premium draft pick on a quarterback this year. But Pace has, in the past, floated the idea of drafting one every year or so, and they could take a flyer on a signal-caller on Day Three, someone who projects as a career backup or who needs time to develop.
The most intriguing possibility could be Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, who bears some interesting similarities to Trubisky. Lauletta is unlikely to come off the board in the first three rounds, partly because he faced a lower level of competition. The 6-foot-2 ½ Lauletta started 34 games and, like the 6-foot-2 Trubisky a year ago, he doesn’t have much experience working directly under center.
But he gets high marks from Pro Football Weekly’s scouting/draft expert Greg Gabriel for his “smooth, swift release, accuracy and strong football character.” Gabriel also likes Lauletta’s leadership, athleticism and ability to make plays with his feet, which are some of the attributes that make Trubisky special.
Troy’s Brandon Silvers is another underpublicized quarterback who didn’t face elite competition but could be a value pick on Day Three because he possesses some impressive characteristics. He was a four-year starter at Troy, and Gabriel touts his “impressive athleticism,” and says he “throws well on the run.”