Does Mark Sanchez make sense to back up Mitchell Trubisky?

Does Mark Sanchez make sense to back up Mitchell Trubisky?

INDIANAPOLIS — For all the focus this week on free agency, which unofficially begins March 12, and the NFL Draft, which begins in late April, no one affiliated with the Bears has lost sight of the most important key to the long-tern success of the franchise: Mitchell Trubisky. 

The Bears didn’t trade up in last year’s draft for Trubisky to be merely “fine.” They didn’t hire a young, quarterback-driven coach for Trubisky to be “just a guy.” They didn’t invest so much effort into building the structure around Trubisky just to feel “okay” about him. 

If the Bears get Trubisky right, they’ll get a lot of other things right, too. Matt Nagy is a big part of that equation, as is offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone. But another important guy in all of this will be Trubisky’s backup in 2018. 

“There’s no more important room than that quarterback room, and we’re really mindful of who we pair in that room,” general manager Ryan Pace said. 

So how about elevating Mark Sanchez from being a No. 3 quarterback who was inactive for all 16 games last year to being Trubisky’s backup?

“He did a good job this year, all the things we value with him, his veteran leadership and his experiences,” Pace said. “He’s a free agent. Those are all evaluations that are ongoing.”

Pace said Sanchez has expressed interest in returning to the Bears, where he and Trubisky developed a good relationship in 2017. Sanchez’s been-there, done-that history was important for Trubisky as the rookie dealt with so many new experiences in the NFL. 

Having that veteran quarterback as a sort of conduit from the coaching staff to Trubisky is helpful. But with a young quarterback like Trubisky, maybe it’s easy to lose sight of the job No. 1 of a backup: Being ready to come in and win at a moment’s notice. 

Pace pointed to that on Tuesday, mentioning Nick Foles' Super Bowl title, which could present a roadblock for retaining Sanchez. The last time the 31-year-old threw a pass in a regular season game was on Jan. 1, 2017, and he hasn’t been credited with a quarterback “win” — for what that’s worth — since 2014. 

“You need to be able to come in and win if something happens,” Pace said. “We just saw that in the Super Bowl. But again the chemistry in that room is important. You’re there for the starter. You’re in a supportive role to help him grow. We have a younger quarterback, so we have to be mindful of who we pair with him in that room.”

Pace could shoot to sign someone like Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carolina’s Derek Anderson or Miami’s Matt Moore, all of whom are due to hit the open market in two weeks. Chase Daniel, who spent last year as the New Orleans Saints’ backup and has direct connections to Pace and Nagy, will also be a free agent but has had a longer layoff between NFL throws than Sanchez (Dec. 22, 2016, which was the only pass he threw that year). 

But opting to keep the same chemistry in the Bears’ quarterback room — minus Mike Glennon, of course, who will be released when the new league year begins March 14 — could have a benefit to Trubisky. And it could mean Sanchez is back at Halas Hall in 2018. 

“I think you just surround your quarterback, who’s your most valuable asset, with a lot of good resources,” Pace said. “We feel like we’ve done that, definitely with the coaching staff. And they all bring a different perspective to the table. It’s cool to walk into the offensive meeting room and see them collaborating and bouncing ideas off each other. It’s definitely that kind of relationship. So it’ll be interesting to see that play out. It’s definitely a creative offense.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who should the Bears sign, Allen Hurns or Cam Meredith?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who should the Bears sign, Allen Hurns or Cam Meredith?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Chris Emma (670 The Score) and Ben Finfer join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel.

Allen Robinson’s former Jaguars teammate is a free agent. Would signing Allen Hurns make sense for the Bears?

Plus, Loyola has traffic problems on the Road to the Final Four and the guys debate the biggest need for the Blackhawks heading into a long offseason.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

USA Today

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

Kyle Fuller caused a bit of a panic late Friday afternoon when a report dropped that he signed an offer sheet with the Green Bay Packers. For a few hours, the prospect — even if it was always unlikely — of the Bears losing their best cornerback to their arch rivals to the north loomed over Chicago. 

For Fuller, though, he said he barely had time to think about the possibility of cashing in on his breakout 2017 season with the Packers. The Bears quickly matched the offer sheet, officially announcing the four-year deal Tuesday that makes Fuller one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL. 

“It was crazy not really knowing what to expect,” Fuller said. “I would have never expected it. But when (the Packers’ offer sheet) came, it was definitely something to consider, just on the business side of it. At the end of the day, how it all played out, I’m definitely happy.”

Fuller sounded like someone who took a more passive role to his quasi-restricted free agency that was set about when the Bears placed the transition tag on him, allowing them to match any offer sheet that he were to sign. Fuller said he didn’t know all the details of what was going on with offer sheets coming in and negotiations with the Bears.

“I kinda was just getting the information from (my agents) and going with the flow of everything and knowing that at the end of the day it would end up working out,” Fuller said. 

The $14 million average annual value of Fuller’s contract ranks fifth among cornerbacks, behind only Washington’s Josh Norman ($15 million), New York’s Trumaine Johnson ($14.5 million) Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes ($14.02 million) and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson ($14.01 million), according to Spotrac. 

Fuller said he considers himself a top-five cornerback in the league, and he played like someone who could wind up in that discussion in 2017. The 2014 first-round pick was one of four players to break up 20 or more passes last year, and he picked off two passes in December while providing excellent support against the run. 

“We could not be happier to have Kyle under contract for four more years,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “We feel he is an ascending player on our top 10 defense and we look forward to him having many more productive seasons here in Chicago.”