When Ryan Pace addressed the media following the Bears’ Wild Card loss to the Saints, there wasn’t much equivocating about how the Bears would address the quarterback position over the offseason. "We definitely need more out of the position," Pace said. "We know that. What does that entail? That's what this whole offseason is about.
"Everything is on the table right now.”
While no “hard news” has come out since then regarding the Bears’ search for their next starter, the team has been mentioned in several trade rumors. After the Rams and Lions agreed to swap QBs, one report said the Bears actually offered Detroit more than a first-round draft pick for Matthew Stafford. Pace’s name has come up as a potential suitor for both Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz. But for the first time since that year-end press conference, we have something tangible that indicates the Bears are still all-in to find a new starter.
"Anything we can think of, we're gonna look into it," Matt Nagy told NFL.com in an article posted on Thursday. "We feel like we're really close."
That last line sticks outs. If the Bears feel like they’re “really close” to competing in the Super Bowl, they may act more aggressively than usual to find that critical piece to run the offense. Would that conviction push them to outbid every other team in the Watson sweepstakes, if Watson truly refuses to play for Houston? Or will they move up in the draft to take another swing at a rookie quarterback? Honestly, nobody knows exactly how everything will play out. There are simply too many possibilities.
"With all these quarterbacks out there, and all those young guys who'll be in this draft, it's gonna be a fascinating offseason as far as the quarterback position," Nagy told NFL.com. "And once one goes, it's gonna be like a domino effect.
"I think you look at those four teams that were in the [conference title games], and the guys that were leading those teams— and you look at the impact a big-time quarterback can have on a franchise. You're looking at maybe 10-12 quarterbacks that are starters in this league for sure, who are quote-unquote locked in, and that's it— which is crazy to think about.”
There hasn’t been much action since that first domino— Stafford for Goff— fell (no, I’m not counting Dwayne Haskins to the Steelers). But as more and more quarterbacks come off the board, the pace may pick up as teams left without scramble to lock in one of the remaining options. Carson Wentz’s name has come up as a potential next domino. So has Derek Carr’s, if the Raider can swing a three-team deal to bring Watson to Las Vegas. Other names that pop up include Sam Darnold and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Again, no one really knows who will go first, second and third, or even how many quarterbacks will truly change teams. But Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane, who is totally set at quarterback with Josh Allen, told NFL.com that from his sideline view, he does expect some significant QB movement.
"It's a quarterback league," Beane told NFL.com. "I do think there will be some teams that will be aggressive like Tampa was— teams that conclude, 'If we can just get a quarterback, we can compete for a championship.' Tampa hasn't been in the playoffs since when? You get Tom Brady, and basically swap him out with Jameis (Winston), and all of a sudden look where they are.
"It seems like there've been more situations with some real dudes [potentially available] than ever before. Last year had (Philip) Rivers, (Tom) Brady, Jameis (Winston), Cam (Newton) … there were big names, which was so unusual. And this year looks like it'll be even crazier."
Brady is one of a kind, so it would be unfair to expect any other quarterback to bring about a full franchise transformation like he did in Tampa. But the point remains that teams want to win now and they believe bringing in a top-tier quarterback is the fastest way to do that.
"I'm fascinated by this quarterback position in the NFL, and how it works,” Nagy told NFL.com. “The world we're in right now, it really doesn't allow you to develop an Eli Manning or a Philip Rivers or a guy who's going to grow into the role and be with your franchise for a long, long time. Now, because we live in an instant-gratification world, it's throw them into the fire, sink or swim, and if they can tread water for two or three years and you can put a good team around them, then maybe it can work. And if not, you're looking for the next guy."