The jury remains out on whether Mitch Trubisky can ever find the MVP-caliber form that QB Carson Wentz showed in his second season, positioning the Philadelphia Eagles for their first-ever Super Bowl title — or if it’s necessary to return the Lombardi to the Lakefront.
And yet the record-breaking contract containing north of $107 million guaranteed that Wentz inked Thursday — with two years remaining on his rookie deal — is a stark reminder that the iron will never be hotter for Trubisky’s Bears to make their Super Bowl strike than it is right now.
Trubisky, like Wentz, was drafted No. 2 overall following a bold trade up and has two years, plus a team-friendly option in 2021 that feels imminent to be exercised next spring, remaining on his rookie deal. Although Wentz has proven more on the field than Trubisky, dazzling in his second season before tearing his ACL and showing flashes of rediscovering that form last season prior to undergoing season-ending back surgery. But the Eagles undoubtedly took a risk in extending early a player whose past four seasons dating back to college were cut short by injury.
Why? They sacrificed some financial leverage in his own rookie contract and the franchise tag because, if Wentz is the player they clearly believe and finally plays a full season, the deal would’ve cost more next offseason, after the cap rises another $10 million or so.
Obviously the best-case scenario in Chicago would be Trubisky leading the Bears to a Super Bowl this season, fully convincing the franchise its QB riddle is solved, and garnering his own early extension. Remember, the Eagles won their Super Bowl with Wentz and Nick Foles only commanding a fraction of their salary cap.
And with Bears All Pros Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen and Pro Bowl alternates Leonard Floyd, Danny Trevathan and Cody Whitehair all approaching contract seasons and the cap hits on Khalil Mack and Eddie Goldman more than doubling in 2020, Chicago’s looming cap calisthenics — with or without an early Trubisky extension — could make this past offseason’s maneuvering feel like a walk in the park.
The Eagles are among the smartest teams in the NFL and managed to lock up Wentz alongside their core group for at least the next two seasons. Mind you, smart teams don’t allow the cap to be their downfall. Yet just as the jury remains out on Trubisky, it’s only fair to point out that the Bears have yet to reach Philly’s level of sustained success from the top down.
Could the Bears and Trubisky ultimately wind up agreeing to a more modest deal that illustrates he’s a quarterback they can win with, not necessarily because of? Sure. Think Wentz’s former backup, Nick Foles, who was just promised $50 million — less than half of Wentz — to try and stabilize the Jacksonville Jaguars. Foles is a former Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP, but he’s also five years older than Trubisky and has generally been streaky, save for that playoff run two years ago and in his first season with Chip Kelly.
Foles doesn’t have Trubisky’s tools, though, and suffice to say the bears didn’t trade up to select their guy a couple years ago because they thought his ceiling was a second or third tier quarterback whose second NFL contract could be a discount at a time when QB money has never been more outrageous.
Perhaps this is just another way of us saying it’s all in front of Trubisky, who has an ideal opportunity to establish himself as the franchise and cash in like Wentz, and the Bears, who can continue their climb back atop the NFL this season. And in their centennial celebration campaign, once again, there would be no better time than now.