The 2020 free agent quarterback class has a chance to be one of the best in NFL history, assuming the big-ticket players actually test the open market.
Tom Brady? Philip Rivers? Dak Prescott? Drew Brees?
Sure, not all of them are realistic targets for the Chicago Bears this offseason and maybe they shouldn't be. Brady, Brees and Rivers don't have many seasons left in their arms, while Prescott is expected to command a salary north of $35 million per season. The Bears don't have that kind of cap space and it's hard to imagine a scenario where Cowboys owner Jerry Jones allows Prescott to leave Big D.
But one player who could be a realistic target is former No. 1 overall pick, Jameis Winston of the Tampa bay Buccaneers.
According to ESPN's Bill Barnwell, Winston could find himself in the Bears' crosshairs if Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians turns his attention to Rivers in free agency. The Chargers and Rivers mutually agreed to part ways earlier this week and after relocating his family to Florida this offseason, the Rivers-to-the-Buccaneers rumors are very real.
That would leave Winston searching for a new home and without much leverage to command a top-of-the-market contract.
While the Bears are publicly committed to Mitchell Trubisky, they need to bring in a quarterback who can compete for the starting job. Winston's market is totally uncertain; there might not be any team that thinks he's worth starter money, and if that's the case, he might need to settle for a one-year deal and a competition. Trubisky's backup Chase Daniel can return to Kansas City to sit behind Patrick Mahomes.
Barnwell predicts Chicago will land Winston on a one-year, $9 million deal, which would be a big-time bargain for a quarterback who threw for more than 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2019. That bargain, however, comes at a bigger cost than the dollars involved. Winston tossed 30 interceptions last year and became the first quarterback in NFL history to post a 30/30 season.
There's no denying Winston's arm talent. He's capable of making some special throws. But he's equally capable of making head-scratching mistakes that, in a way, make him the ideal target for the Bears if they truly want to give Trubisky the head start on the first-team gig.
Winston wouldn't post a Day-1 threat; he wouldn't enter training camp the presumed starter because of his history of on-field mistakes. He has a lot to prove and what better way to get the best out of two talented players by making them compete for what would essentially be their NFL careers?
All it takes is for one team to fall in love with Winston to inflate his market. If that happens, the Bears will bow out. But Winston is rarely the first or even second quarterback mentioned as a potential fit for teams that are a quarterback away from a championship run. In fact, there's a chance that Winston finds himself in the second wave of free agency because of how weak the market for his services is.
That would be great for the Bears, who need to thread the needle on a quarterback who won't break the bank but can start and win games in 2020.