Report: Bears plan to make trading for Jimmy Garoppolo top offseason priority

Report: Bears plan to make trading for Jimmy Garoppolo top offseason priority

It's abundantly clear: the Bears top priority this offseason is finding a franchise quarterback.

Expected to cut ties with Jay Cutler at some point over the next few months, the Bears have already zeroed in one option to fill their need at quarterback. 

According to a report from CBS's Jason La Canfora, the Bears plan to make acquiring New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo their top offseason priority.

"The Chicago Bears will make a strong, concerted effort to acquire quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. The Illinois native is far and away their top offseason priority."

The 25-year-old Garoppolo, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract next season, is widely considered one of the top available trade options on the market this offseason as the Patriots are expected to deal the former second-round pick.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The connection between Garoppolo and the Bears runs deep as the Chicagoland native starred at Rolling Meadows High School and played his college football at Eastern Illinois — the same alma mater as Bears GM Ryan Pace.  

Garoppolo has played sparingly in his three seasons with the Patriots. In limited snaps backing up future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, Garoppolo has thrown for 690 yards and five touchdowns in 17 appearances. 

As Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported earlier this week, Pace and Garoppolo spent time together last August when the Bears and Patriots held joint practices in Foxborough.

"We got to talk one-on-one and it was just a couple of Eastern guys hanging out," said Garoppolo, who is playing the role of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in practice this week as the Patriots prepare for Super Bowl LI. "There are not many Eastern Illinois guys (in the NFL), so it's a small group and we like to stick together."

The Bears likely won't be the only suitor for Garoppolo's services this offseason. The San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns both have a need at the position and are rumored to explore the possibility of acquiring Garoppolo.

Any interested team could begin exploratory talks with the Patriots, but a trade can't come to fruition until the new league starts following the NFL Scouting Combine in March.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Cam Meredith return to the Bears?


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Hub Arkush (Pro Football Weekly/670 The Score), Mark Grote (670 The Score) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel. Quenton Nelson works out at Notre Dame’s pro day. If he’s still on the board at 8, should the Bears take him? Plus the panel talks about the Cubs outfield heading into 2018 and if it’s time to shut down both Jonathan Toews and Lauri Markkanen.

Could Quenton Nelson increase his value by playing tackle?

USA Today

Could Quenton Nelson increase his value by playing tackle?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Quenton Nelson hasn’t met with the Bears yet during this pre-draft process, and doesn’t have a local visit scheduled with them. But maybe that’s not too surprising.

Harry Hiestand has better intel on him than anyone else after coaching him for the past four years at Notre Dame, after all. 

“Coach Hiestand, he’s known me since I was an immature freshman that wasn’t good at football, until now being a lot more mature and responsible and doing the right thing and a good football player,” Nelson said. “He knows everything about me.”

Could part of that intel provided by Hiestand be that Nelson has the ability to eventually play tackle?

Nelson might be the closest to a “sure thing” prospect in this year’s draft, with his reams of dominant film and off-the-charts work ethic projecting him as an All-Pro for years to come. But that he plays guard is a stumbling block, given interior positions generally don’t hold as much value as tackles in the NFL.

So here’s a potential scenario for the Bears: They draft Nelson at No. 8 — which is still "high" for a guard — and plug him at left guard in 2018. They then, under the careful watch of Hiestand, slide him to tackle in 2019. 

“I’m pretty convinced that Q could do whatever he sets his mind to,” Mike McGlinchey, a first-round tackle in his own right who's Nelson’s ex-Irish teammate and workout buddy, said. “If that’s what teams want him to play, I’m sure he’ll take that head on and perform to the best of his ability.” 

Nelson, to his credit, is confident he could make the switch to tackle (he was recruited by Hiestand as a tackle, and began his college career backing up Zack Martin at tackle). He said the only team that’s asked him about it so far is the Cincinnati Bengals, though it’s unlikely he’ll still be on the board when they pick at No. 21. 

But maybe the thought of guards being significantly less valuable than tackles is slowly becoming antiquated in today’s NFL. Four of the top 10 highest paid offensive linemen, by total contract value, are interior linemen. Three of the top 10 offensive linemen with the most guaranteed money are guards, led by Andrew Norwell, who inked a five-year, $66.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this month with $30 million guaranteed at signing. Only one offensive lineman — Nate Solder, who just signed with the New York Giants — is guaranteed more money. 

Following the money, if teams are willing to splash down loads of cash for the best guards in the league, a team may be willing to spend a top-10 pick on a guard who could immediately be among the best at his position in the NFL. Or the calculation for whatever team drafts him may be this: Would you rather have him as a perennial All-Pro guard or "merely" a solid-to-good tackle? 

Regardless of where he ends up playing, though, Nelson is one of those supremely-talented players who takes the right approach to his craft — in other words, one of those guys you just want to get in your building. And while Nelson said he’d love to play for his hometown New York Giants — who could be interested in him with the No. 2 pick — he said getting to link back up with Hiestand would be an incredible opportunity, too. 

“That would be amazing to play for him,” Nelson said. “He’s the one that made me into the player I am today. I wouldn’t be here without him or be in any conversations in the draft without him, so it would mean a lot to play for him again.”