The Bears entered the offseason with the goal of acquiring a veteran quarterback to push or supplant incumbent starter Mitchell Trubisky, who finished last year 28th in Total QBR (39.4), tied for 27th in touchdown passes (17), 21st in passing yards (3,138), 32nd in yards gained per pass attempt (6.1) and 28th in traditional quarterback rating (83.0).
After missing the playoffs in eight of the last nine years, the Bears have a clear sense of urgency in 2020 -- particularly on offense, where Chicago ranked 29th in points per game and total yards per game, 27th in rushing yards per game and 25th in passing yards per game.
So can Foles do anything to change that? Here are a few answers.
Is Foles the new starter?
Bears general manager Ryan Pace said last month that he still believed in Trubisky. That’s probably partly true. So labeling Foles as Chicago’s unquestioned starter based on Wednesday’s move could be premature. Foles is also coming off a shoulder injury sustained early last season and was benched for lack of performance at the end of 2019. The most likely scenario is that Foles and Trubisky report to training camp for an open competition. But make no mistake, Trubisky is in real trouble. Bears coach Matt Nagy will not hesitate to replace Trubisky, not this year. Foles is an experienced starter with deep ties to the Bears’ offensive coaching staff. Foles is also making a ton more money than Trubisky. All signs point to Foles eventually being named the starter.
What happens with Trubisky?
The former second overall pick is in the final year of his rookie contract and will earn $4.423 million guaranteed and take up $9.237 million in cap space. The Bears have yet to exercise Trubisky’s fifth-year option but could still do so since fifth-year options do not become fully guaranteed (except for injury) under the new CBA until next offseason. Trubisky underwent offseason shoulder surgery, but the Bears expect him to be medically cleared for next season. Either Trubisky rises to the challenge, or he becomes the next Marcus Mariota -- a high pick who fails to produce and is benched. It’s that simple. The difference is, unlike Mariota, Trubisky probably won’t be given the opportunity to start a couple of regular-season games before the Bears make the switch.
How could Foles fit with the Bears?
Comfort level is everything in the NFL. Nagy coached Foles in Philadelphia and Kansas City. Bears assistants Bill Lazor (offensive coordinator), John DeFilippo (quarterbacks coach) and Juan Castillo (offensive line coach) all overlapped with Foles when he played for the Eagles. Nagy knows everything he needs to know about Foles, and vice versa. That’s particularly important this spring with the uncertain timing of offseason programs due to the coronavirus outbreak. Foles also won a Super Bowl running a similar scheme to what Nagy has tried to run in Chicago. Those credentials help, too.
How big of a financial commitment is this?
The Bears inherit the final three years of Foles’ contract from Jacksonville -- about $21 million is fully guaranteed. According to Schefter, Foles has already restructured the deal with Chicago and is now able to void the contract after either of the next two years based on performance. The financial commitment is still steep. Foles will earn roughly five times the amount the Bears will pay Trubisky in 2020.
Why Foles is a good fit with the Bears
Adam Schefter explains why the Bears' trade for Nick Foles makes sense.
What could this deal mean for the futures of Nagy and Pace?
Everything. The Bears have been incredibly patient with Pace, who, before drafting Trubisky instead of Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson, spent $18.5 million on free-agent quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon started four games. Pace has also spent big money and draft picks to bring defensive end Khalil Mack to Chicago from the Raiders. Trubisky is on the verge of losing his job after three seasons. Chicago has a championship-level defense, so the Foles move has to pay dividends. Either Foles plays well and Chicago challenges for the playoffs, or Trubisky, feeling the gravity of the moment, takes his performance to another level and reaches the playoffs. Those are the only two acceptable outcomes. Everyone in the Bears organization is well aware of the sense of urgency surrounding the 2020 season, and that begins with the general manager and head coach.