Jimmy Garoppolo news may limit Bears, but QB remains focus

Cutler's shoulder injury hinders Bears' plans (0:58)

Adam Schefter details how Jay Cutler's recovery from a shoulder injury is affecting the Bears. (0:58)

New England’s decision to hold onto Jimmy Garoppolo in no way forces the Chicago Bears to reach for a quarterback with the third overall pick.

General manager Ryan Pace often speaks of drafting the best available player. That sounds like a cliché, but taking the player with the highest grade on the draft board is a smart way to do business. We’ve all heard the horror stories of teams taking quarterbacks too high: Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Johnny Manziel, just to name a few.

The Bears want no part of that club.

Still, Pace’s main priority is quarterback. The Bears will undoubtedly draft one in the early rounds, but bypassing all the potential top-10 defensive talent – Jonathan Allen, Jamal Adams, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, etc. – just for the sake of picking a quarterback doesn’t make much sense.

Unless Pace views Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson or DeShone Kizer as the best available at No. 3 – expect the Bears to look elsewhere, or attempt to move back in Round 1.

So, Garoppolo or no Garoppolo – perhaps Bill Belichick still deals him for the right price – the Bears cannot be reckless with such a high pick. It has to be best available, plain and simple.

What the Garoppolo news does affect is Chicago’s Week 1 starter. Odds are no matter whom the Bears draft at quarterback, that player is unlikely to be ready to start the regular season.

Garoppolo seemed like such a good fit because at 25 years old, he’d be the unquestioned guy from Day 1. Garoppolo doesn’t have much NFL starting experience, but he has enough that any team trading for him automatically anoints him the present and future starter.

A rookie quarterback – even if it’s Trubisky, Watson or Kizer – will require time to develop.

That’s why the Bears have to sign a free-agent bridge quarterback. Brian Hoyer is one name that comes to mind because of his above-average play (six touchdowns, zero interceptions) in 2016, plus the relationship he enjoys with Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. Mike Glennon, 27, looks to be a promising free agent. Glennon had two decent years with the Bucs before they drafted Jameis Winston. The Bills are figuring out what to do with Tyrod Taylor, who would be guaranteed between $27.5 million and $30.5 million if he’s on the Bills' roster next season. Taylor, 27, passed for 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions the past two years.

Also, Matt Barkley (unrestricted), Connor Shaw (restricted), or both, may be re-signed to bolster the quarterback depth chart. Barkley and Shaw both showed flashes in 2016.

Pace called Jay Cutler's situation “fluid” when he met with reporters at the NFL combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday. Going back to Cutler is a non-starter. Good luck selling year nine of Cutler to the fans in Chicago. The Bears need him to pass a physical before they can trade or release him.

Outside of Cutler, Pace is presented with lots of options. The Garoppolo development is disappointing, but it doesn’t change the focus. The Bears have to acquire better pieces at quarterback, otherwise there’s no end in sight to the rebuilding process.