Bears Tabbed as ‘Logical Fit’ for Former $118 Million QB After Draft

Ryan Tannehill Chicago Bears News Caleb Williams Backup Bears Quarterbacks

Getty The Bears could still sign a veteran quarterback to back up rookie Caleb Williams in 2024.

The Chicago Bears have now officially selected Caleb Williams to be their new franchise quarterback. Could their lack of experience in the quarterback room behind him persuade them to enlist the help of a former Pro Bowler, though?

The Bears believe they have thoroughly reconstructed their roster well enough at this point to be able to contend for the 2024 NFL playoffs, and the arrival of Williams has only intensified those beliefs. He is one of the best quarterback prospects to reach the league in years and is walking into — potentially — the best situation yet for a No. 1 pick.

If something were to happen to Williams, though, whether it be an injury or anything else that might keep him off the field, Chicago would be in a desperate place. Tyson Bagent is currently their primary backup, but he remains a raw talent despite starting four games as an undrafted rookie in 2023. The Bears also have veteran Brett Rypien (four career starts) and undrafted rookie Austin Reed out of Western Kentucky.

To remedy the issue, Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon believes former Tennessee Titans starter Ryan Tannehill could be a target for them as the top quarterback on the market.

“From a mentor perspective, Tannehill would be a logical fit on the Chicago Bears,” Kenyon wrote on April 28. “Second-year player Tyson Bagent is the current backup to No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams.”

Ryan Tannehill Might Prefer an Opportunity to Start

Tannehill is an understandable suggestion for the Bears on the surface. If they want a veteran quarterback, he is the best remaining free agent by a significant margin. The other options on the open market include 35-year-old Blaine Gabbert (49 career starts) and 39-year-old Brian Hoyer (41 career starts). Trevor Siemian and P.J. Walker are also still unsigned, but the Bears have already hired and then fired both in the recent past.

As the best on the market, though, Tannehill might reasonably want to hold out for an opportunity to compete for a starting job — something the Bears would not offer him.

Tannehill had a rough season for the Titans in 2023 as he played out the final year of his $118 million contract. In eight starts, he threw four touchdowns and seven picks and finished the season with his lowest completion percentage (64.8%) of his five seasons as Tennessee’s starter, but he has also more than 34,000 passing yards in his career. If an injury creates a starting quarterback need in the league, he is worthy of consideration.

The other issue could be money. According to Over the Cap, the Bears will have roughly $12.5 million in effective cap space after signing their draft picks, and they would likely have to commit a large chunk of it to sign Tannehill if they want him. Even if they freed up additional cap space with a veteran cut or two, would it be worth it to the Bears?

Are Bears Comfortable With QB Situation for 2024?

The Bears lack true NFL experience in their quarterback room, but they may not view that as a problem until after they see how each of them performs during OTAs in May.

The Bears will likely devote a bulk of snaps to Williams during their on-field workouts. The faster he learns Shane Waldron’s office and builds chemistry with his teammates, the sooner the Bears will know how potent their offense can be for the 2024 season.

Still, Chicago must iron out its pecking order behind Williams. Bagent could lock down the No. 2 quarterback role if he returns from the offseason looking better than he left. He played admirably for an undrafted rookie when the Bears threw him into the fire midway through the 2023 season and helped them win two games, but his tape still showed a green player who has plenty of growing to do to be a quality NFL backup.

If Bagent shows signs of improvement in OTAs, the Bears may feel justified in rolling with him as their true backup for a second straight season.

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