In one of the least surprising moves of the offseason so far, the Chicago Bears have declined to pick up quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s fifth-year option, per NFL insider Tom Pelissero. This offseason, the Bears brought in veteran Nick Foles, who still had $21 million guaranteed on his contract, with the apparent goal of creating a competition that either pushes Trubisky into greatness or results in Foles being capable enough to lead the team on a postseason run.
Bears GM Ryan Pace had remained staunchly non-committal about whether the team planned on picking up Trubisky’s option, and non we know why. If Pace had a great deal of confidence in Trubisky, he would have picked up the fifth-year option, but the fact that he didn’t speaks to his lack of faith in his former second-overall pick. It would have cost the Bears $24 million to pick up Trubisky’s second-year option, and they obviously feel he hasn’t earned that money. At least, not yet.
NFL analyst Field Yates noted that only one of the top five draft picks from the 2017 NFL Draft had their fifth-year options picked up: Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. Trubisky, Solomon Thomas of the San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Floyd and Tennessee Titans wideout Corey Davis all saw their options declined by their respective teams. The Jaguars are actively shopping Fournette, and Thomas is widely considered to have been a bust.
Recent history says that if Trubisky wants to remain the starting quarterback for this franchise, he’s going to have to ball out moving forward. He’s going to have to capably beat Foles and show that he’s worthy. And he should probably look at how Ryan Pace has handled other players after their options have been either picked up or declined.
Bears GM Ryan Pace: Picked Up Leonard Floyd’s Option, Declined Kyle Fuller’s
Peliserro also reminded people on Twitter in a subsequent tweet that Chicago did pick up former first-round pick Leonard Floyd’s fifth-year option in 2019. Pace, who was asked about it at the time, was far less vague about picking up Floyd’s option than he was Trubisky’s, saying the team fully planned on doing so, as Floyd had earned it. The team picked up his option, and Floyd responded with a subpar year and was cut after the 2019 season.
Pelissero also noted Chicago did not pick up former first-round pick Kyle Fuller’s fifth-year option, and he responded with an excellent ‘prove-it’ season. The Bears signed Fuller to a four-year, $56 million contract the following year.
It’s not being overly dramatic to suggest that how Trubisky responds will determine whether he’s a free agent after the 2020 NFL season, or whether he remains the leader of this franchise. He’ll have to play at or beyond the level he played during the 2018 season in order for that to happen, though.
The Bears choosing to decline Trubisky’s fifth-year option comes after news that both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson — both of whom were infamously passed up by Pace in favor of Trubisky — saw their options picked up, with huge contracts likely soon to come.