Very few people were surprised when the Chicago Bears declined to pick up quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s fifth-year option. The team would have owed Trubisky $24 million had they chose to pick it up, and he hasn’t earned that kind of money based on the quality of his play. The Bears could also still use the franchise tag on him if he plays well this season, so it wasn’t a complete closing of the door on Trubisky. Or was it?
Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport wrote a few days prior to the Bears’ declining Trubisky’s option that should the team choose not to pick it up, the decision would prove once and for all that the quarterback competition between Trubisky and veteran Nick Foles is a “sham.”
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Does Foles’ Contract Scream QB1?
Many, including Davenport, think that when the Bears chose to trade a fourth-round draft pick for Foles while also agreeing to take on the $17 million guaranteed remaining on his contract after it was restructured, it signaled the end for Trubisky in Chicago.
“The writing was on the wall regarding Trubisky the moment the Foles trade was announced. You don’t spend draft capital and substantial cap space on a Super Bowl MVP quarterback because you hope he’ll ‘push’ your young starter. You do so to replace him. Passing on the option year only serves to reinforce that … The Bears can talk about ‘open competition’ until they are navy blue in the face. And they probably will—right up until Foles is announced as the starter sometime this summer. But Pace and Nagy have already all but admitted that, barring disaster, he will be,” Davenport said.
But while the Bears brought Foles in knowing very well he could be their starter in 2020, it’s unlikely they have already kicked Trubisky to the curb. The team was protecting itself. Had they gone ahead and given Trubisky his fifth-year option and he suffered an injury, the Bears would have had to pay him top dollar for zero production. It would have also sent a bit of a mixed message to the locker room, to reward wishy-washy play with $24 million guaranteed.
Foles’ contract is a bit steep for that of a backup in the league — he’s slated to cost the team a $6.6 million cap hit, per Over the Cap — but this is the Bears we’re talking about. They paid Chase Daniel $5 million a year to be the team’s backup over the last two seasons, and they gave him that money with absolutely no hope or desire for him to start. Foles has won a Super Bowl in which he was named MVP, and he has also been a supportive backup for the majority of his career, so if Trubisky balls out and earns the job, the Bears aren’t going to start Foles simply because they’re paying him $17 million guaranteed.
J.J. Stankevitz said it best on the Under Center podcast Monday. “If Mitch Trubisky is good in 2020, he will be on the Bears in 2021.”
Do the Bears already have their minds made up about which QB they want to start? Maybe. But it’s up to Trubisky to change them.