Some things never change. The Chicago Bears are going to make addressing the quarterback position a priority this offseason. Again. General manager Ryan Pace spoke to the media in a much-criticized end of the year press conference Wednesday, and expressed dissatisfaction with the position while also vowing to utilize any means necessary to finally find an answer.
“As far as the plan at quarterback, to get to where we want to go, we definitely need more out of that position. We know that. What does that entail? That is what this whole offseason is about. … I think when you go into selecting a quarterback or acquiring a quarterback in any way we do it or whatever we do at that position – everything is on the table,” Pace said.
“I think we talk about the quarterback position and how critical that is to any team’s success and we understand that. That’s why it will be a big focus of us and a big decision for us,” Pace added.
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Derek Carr Pegged as ‘Realistic’ Option at QB for Bears
Analyst and salary cap extraordinaire Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus floated Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr as one of the most realistic quarterbacks Chicago could make a run at this offseason. Spielberger, who is also a Bears fan, is familiar with the team’s cap space — or lack thereof — and it would take unloading a few players, but Carr could possibly be available via trade. When asked by a fan on Twitter who the most realistic option for the Bears could be this coming season, Spielberger chose the Raiders quarterback.
While players like Deshaun Watson or Dak Prescott would unquestionably require multiple first-round picks, the Bears wouldn’t have to mortgage their future to trade for Carr. Insider Jeff Hughes of DaBearsBlog agrees with Spielberger:
Trey Lance somehow falls to 20 and Foles. Or they trade for a guy like Carr
— Brad Spielberger (@PFF_Brad) January 10, 2021
If I had to bet which veteran QB the Bears will look to target in a trade, Carr is the guy
I'm not sure how they acquire him without the No. 20 pick included https://t.co/2QN0IhiMh6
— Brad Spielberger (@PFF_Brad) January 13, 2021
There are only three veteran QBs who could change expectations for 2021: Stafford, Watson, Carr.
Lions aren’t trading Stafford to a rival, if at all.
Watson feels like pie in the sky. (But a delicious pie.)
Carr isn’t as exciting but would stabilize position.
— DaBearsBlog (@dabearsblog) January 14, 2021
It has also been reported that Chicago will be looking for signal callers with experience, and Carr checks that box, as well. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported this week that the Bears were going to be in the market for a veteran quarterback:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 13, 2021
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Derek Carr Contract: Can the Bears Afford it?
Another reason Carr could be a realistic option for the Bears? He’s relatively affordable, and a quality talent for the price. The 29-year-old quarterback signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension with the Raiders in 2017. His salary is slated to count $22.125 million against the cap this coming season and $19,877,519 against it in 2022, per Over the Cap. He is also owed no guaranteed money, which would give the Bears an easy out if they wanted to let him walk after one season.
As noted, Chicago would have to cut a few players in order to be able to afford him– but releasing the likes of, say, tight end Jimmy Graham and offensive lineman Bobby Massie would free up $19.3 million alone. The Bears are currently in the red when it comes to available cap space in 2021, but rest assured, cuts are coming. Freeing up $20-25 million and parting with the 20th overall pick would be far easier for Pace and company to accomplish than trading three or more first rounders and shelling out $40+ million a year for a starter.
Carr turns 30 in March, and he just finished one the best seasons of his career, completing 67.3 of his passes for 4,103 yards, 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Meanwhile, in Chicago, the Bears are still looking for their first 4,000-yard passer in franchise history. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback has thrown for 4,000+ yards in each of the last of his three seasons. Plus, Carr has never missed more than one start in any of his seven seasons, so there are no red flags injury-wise with him.
If Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are serious about fixing the quarterback position, a phone call to Jon Gruden might not be a bad place to start.