What you’re about to read below is what the Bears want to happen.
Mitch Trubisky beats Nick Foles in training camp, hanging on to his gig as the Bears’ starting quarterback. From there, he never relinquishes the role – which, given the circumstances, means he’s probably playing pretty well. After the 2020 season ends, a long-term contract extension is worked out, keeping Trubisky in Chicago for years to come.
Is this likely? Probably not. But it’s not impossible, and the Bears have to give Trubisky one final shot at saving his career – and, in the process, their Super Bowl window.
Trubisky, for all his inconsistencies in three seasons as a pro, has more upside than Foles. Somewhere in that mediocre 85.8 career passer rating is a talented quarterback, with the athleticism and accuracy and arm strength Ryan Pace absolutely had to have three years ago.
Foles is a great insurance policy but hasn’t started more than five games in a regular season since 2015. He’s the guy you want to turn to if your starter gets hurt – as the Philadelphia Eagles did in winning a Super Bowl – or if that guy proves he’s not a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. The Bears’ ceiling with Foles as a full-time starter might be a playoff appearance – but with Trubisky harnessing his talent, it might be winning the Super Bowl (with help from a great defense, of course).
We don’t know how Trubisky will handle a true challenge to his job. It’s one that comes in a contract year for him after the Bears declined his fifth-year option. Maybe shoving Trubisky’s back into the wall is what finally wrings whatever talent he has out of him.
And there really is a ton a stake for Trubisky. Millions upon millions of dollars, for one.
If Trubisky wins the Bears’ job and plays well in 2020, he’ll be in line for at least the franchise tag in 2021, if not a new nine-figure contract from the McCaskey family. If he doesn’t win the starting job and/or doesn’t play well in 2020, he might have to settle for a one-year, $1 million contract to be a backup – as Blake Bortles did with the Los Angeles Rams last year.
Also on the line for Trubisky, though, is the chance to continue playing football at the highest level. He’s always seemed like someone who genuinely loves the game; he might get into games as a backup in the future, but those opportunities are not guaranteed. I imagine the prospect of not competing on Sundays might eat at him more than the prospect of unimaginable riches.
The Bears need to help Trubisky, too – this all can’t be on him. He needs smoother, more tailored playcalling from Matt Nagy. He needs a consistent run game. He needs his tight ends to actually be good.
But those things only go so far if he’s still inconsistent with footwork and reading defenses. A great quarterback raises everyone around him, not the other way around.
And the Bears spent a lot to hedge their bets this offseason. You don’t trade a fourth round pick and guarantee $24 million to Foles if you’re confident Trubisky can turn his career around. You do that trade because you can’t continue to gamble on Trubisky’s upside.
So can Trubisky save his career and save the Bears’ Super Bowl window? I don’t know. Nobody does, especially without any in-person OTA practices to see where he’s at ahead of training camp.
But this question is the most important one for the Bears to answer in 2020. It’ll define their season. And we’ll begin to know if it’s a “yes” or a “no” starting here in late July.