During last Saturday’s “Legacy Panel: Quarterbacks” session in which he shared the stage with Bears legend Jim McMahon, Mitchell Trubisky left little doubt, with both what he said and how he said it, that Chicago is more than just a place he plays football.
“I really knew I was in the right spot [after the Bears drafted him],” Trubisky said. “Chicago’s really been home since that moment.”
Trubisky confirmed on Wednesday that he wants “that moment” to extend far into the future.
“Absolutely,” Trubisky said. “I think as long as I can play here in Chicago...I want to play this game as long as possible and I want to do it as long as I can here in Chicago. I think we’re building something great here.
“I love the city, I love the fans, I love where I live, I love coming to work at Halas Hall every day, and I love my teammates, so for me it’s just taking it one day at a time and embracing the process. That’s the goal for sure.”
A year from now, when Trubisky has completed year three of his four-year-with-an-option rookie contract, that goal may well become reality.
The Philadelphia Eagles, coached by Matt Nagy friend and longtime colleague Doug Pederson, signed Wentz to an extension worth $128 million over four years, of which a massive $107 million is guaranteed.
The news had added resonance with Trubisky, who like Wentz is represented by Rep1 Sports.
Has Trubisky made his intentions clear to Rep 1?
“They know,” Trubisky said. “It’s pretty obvious.”
Trubisky’s comments and the Wentz contract have not been lost on Bears money managers, who will be in position this time next year to consider matching or exceeding Philadelphia money in order to secure the future of Trubisky in Chicago.
The Wentz deal gave the quarterback the largest guarantee in NFL history. But it also gave the Eagles flexibility to continue building a winning team around Wentz, according to Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Getting the Wentz deal done when it was allows the Eagles to spread the cap hit over six years.
“It was pretty cool to see,” Trubisky said. “He got it done. We have the same agent so I got to hear a little more about how they got it done, and from what I heard it was beneficial to the player and the organization. They’re very happy with it, and I know my agents were pumped with it as well. I’m not very good with the numbers and details and the language of contracts. I just want to play football."
Pressure, but on whom?
A casual discussion point may be which side holds leverage on the other.
The Bears have their coach and extended team in place, and the options elsewhere have decreased if only because of the influx of young quarterbacks ostensibly having or expected to have immediate impact:
Arizona (Kyler Murray), Buffalo (Josh Allen), Baltimore (Lamar Jackson), Cleveland (Baker Mayfield), Dallas (Dak Prescott), Denver (Joe Flacco/Drew Lock), Los Angeles (Jared Goff), the Giants (Daniel Jones), Houston (Deshaun Watson), Kansas City (Patrick Mahomes), the Jets (Sam Darnold), Miami (Josh Rosen, from Arizona), Oakland (Derek Carr), San Francisco (Jimmy Garoppolo), Tennessee (Marcus Mariota), Tampa Bay (Jameis Winston), Washington (Dwayne Hoskins).
Add to that the teams with quarterbacks seemingly in place (Atlanta, Detroit, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Seattle, the Chargers, and so forth.)
But Bears GM Ryan Pace tied his future to Trubisky. Indeed, it was very apparent as the 2016 college season went on that Pace was very, very taken with Trubisky. That focus steadily tightened through pre-draft 2017 and into the first round when Pace gave the San Francisco 49ers a hefty haul of draft capital just to move up one spot and ensure that he and the Bears landed Trubisky.
With what has been said and invested in Trubisky, Pace and the Bears have put themselves under pressure at the quarterback position.
As the 2018 season played out, the synchronicity between Nagy and Trubisky grew almost visibly on a near-weekly basis. Coach and player share a position history (Nagy was a quarterback at Delaware and in the Arena League) as well as a temperament.
And the internal chemistry between Trubisky and teammates on all sides of the football was amply evident; when defensive players hang a nickname (“Pretty Boy Assassin”) on a rookie quarterback, he is impressing a group not easily impressed.
By way of comparison
The Eagles made the investment despite Wentz playing 16 games as a rookie in 2016, but then 13 in 2017 and 11 last season, the latter two years with Nick Foles stepping in and taking Philadelphia to a Super Bowl win in ’17 and to a wild-card win over the Bears last year.
Goff, taken No. 1 overall in ’16, has not concluded any extension with the Los Angeles Rams, despite missing just one game since becoming a starter in mid-’16, reaching the playoffs in ’17 and the Super Bowl in ’18.
Trubisky has played in more playoff games (one) than Wentz, hampered the past two years by injuries, and a higher percentage regular-season games (26 of 28) since becoming a starter than Wentz (40 of 48).