Should the Bears go after Cam Newton in the aftermath of Ron Rivera's firing?

Should the Bears go after Cam Newton in the aftermath of Ron Rivera's firing?

The ripple effects of the Carolina Panthers’ decision to fire longtime coach Ron Rivera extend to Chicago beyond just seeing an old friend in “Chico” lose his job. It feels like the Panthers are hitting the reset button as a franchise, which seemingly increases the likelihood they move on from quarterback Cam Newton this offseason.

Could Newton’s next stop be in Chicago?

It makes sense on the surface. The Bears’ Super Bowl window may be a quarterback away from being open, even if it’s only for a year or two as the core of this roster grows older and/or more expensive. Newton has a league MVP and conference title on his resume, and if he enters 2020 healthy after appearing in just two games this season, he’d be a good bet to be an upgrade over Mitch Trubisky (and a lot of quarterbacks around the league, to be fair).

Should the Bears pursue Newton? Given how great the payoff would be for betting on his health, the simple answer is yes. But there are no simple answers in the NFL.

It would be a massive shock if the Bears were even interested in Newton this offseason, let alone managed to land him in the event the Panthers make him available. Here’s why:

1. The Bears still believe in Trubisky.

It’s fair to be skeptical of the scope and sustainability of Trubisky’s progress over his last four games — in which, statistically, he’s been a league-average quarterback — but it’s another thing to be skeptical of the Bears’ internal belief in the 2017 No. 2 overall pick.

General manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy both have had up-close looks at quarterbacks who took longer to develop success in Drew Brees and Alex Smith, and both have been dropping breadcrumbs for weeks about their long-term confidence in Trubisky.

“The past two weeks he’s made strides just with decision-making and conviction,” Pace said in an interview with WBBM-780 prior to their Week 12 win over the New York Giants. That comment came before Trubisky’s games against the Giants and Lions, both of which have been viewed as further positives inside Halas Hall (Pace does not talk to the media in-season beyond weekly in-house interviews with the Bears’ flagship radio station).

Nagy has said he’s noticed progress in Trubisky ever since the Bears’ Week 10 win over the Lions, a four-game stretch culminating with Trubisky’s 338-yard showing in Detroit on Thanksgiving.

“If you play well and you don’t have great numbers, that’s fine if you win,” Nagy said. “We want to win. That’s the No. 1 objective — are you helping your team win is the big one. Are you making the right decisions and are you making plays when you’ve been asked to make plays — and that’s not just the quarterback. That’s everybody. And so if you have a nice statistical game with that, you’re going to feel good about it because it makes you feel like you really helped the team win.”

So before this four-game stretch, the mantra was the offensive struggles and losing streak weren’t all Trubisky’s fault. Now, the drumbeat is about Trubisky’s progress.

That doesn’t sound like an organization ready to move on from the guy in which they invested so much two and a half years ago. Pace’s career is riding on Trubisky, and to an extent, Nagy’s is too. And it feels like Trubisky has done enough in the eyes of the Bears’ decision-makers to keep him entrenched as the team’s 2020 Week 1 starting quarterback.

2. The money doesn’t work.

Even if the Bears remain confident in Trubisky’s ability to start in 2020, they’d be smart to bring in a backup quarterback who can at least provide a modicum of competition for him either via a draft pick, free agent signing or both.

Alternatively, too: If the Bears were to determine they needed a new starting quarterback in 2020, they don’t have the kind of funds necessary to sign a top-tier player like Newton while still addressing other looming holes on their roster (right guard, safety and inside linebacker, to name three). The Bears can save about $10 million in cap space by cutting Kyle Long and Adam Shaheen, but doing so would only give them about $23 million in cap space, per Spotrac. 

That’s a very rough number — it could be higher or lower — but the ballpark estimate is the Bears won’t have gobs of cap space with which to work.

So in this scenario, the Bears still have to be on the cheaper side of things to create true competition for Trubisky. And that means no Newton.

NBC colleague Josh Norris is absolutely right about this:

The Bears could barely fit Newton’s $19 million cap hit for 2020 anyways, and while they could structure his contract to give themselves some wiggle room next year, chances are Newton will sign a shorter-term, high-value deal. Even a cap hit of $12 million — which is what Nick Foles’ is in the first year of his four-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars — would be pricey for a team that’s consistently said it’s not all the quarterback’s fault, hinting at the need for upgrades elsewhere on the roster.

3. Why would Newton come to Chicago?

Let’s say Newton hits free agency and the Bears decide they want to explore signing him. Given all the public support of Trubisky and Newton’s uncertain injury status, it’d seem unlikely the Bears would hand the former Heisman Trophy winner their starting gig.

And if Newton wants to resurrect his career, why would he go somewhere he’s not guaranteed to be the starter?

Newton has reportedly sent signals he’d be willing to come to Chicago, but that was during the Bears’ four-game losing streak — the current nadir of the Trubisky era. With Trubisky playing better, and with more angling from Halas Hall regarding the organization’s belief in him, it’d be an uncertain proposition for Newton to come to Chicago in an effort to spark his career.

Never say never on anything when it comes to Pace — we learned that lesson from the Khalil Mack trade — but Newton coming to Chicago feels awfully unlikely. 

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Did Patriots owner Robert Kraft crush Bears' hope for Tom Brady?

Did Patriots owner Robert Kraft crush Bears' hope for Tom Brady?

The Bears are one of the first teams mentioned when speculation about where New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady could play in 2020. The Bears are the most quarterback-needy club that also has a chance to make a Super Bowl run with a player like Brady under center, so it's logical to assume the soon-to-be free agent will at least entertain the idea of playing home games at Soldier Field next year.

Much of what happens with Brady will come down to how the Patriots view the 42-year-old (he'll be 43 at the start of next season). If all things are equal, and New England makes him a fair offer to come back, it's likely Brady would return to the only franchise he's ever played for. And if owner Robert Kraft's recent comments are sincere, it's more than likely that he will.

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Kraft, who was in New York City on Tuesday, was asked by TMZ reporters whether the Patriots will re-sign Brady this offseason. His response? 

"We plan to," Kraft said.

Well, there you have it, right? If the Patriots plan to re-sign Brady, then the Patriots are going to re-sign Brady; assuming, of course, you believe what Kraft is saying in January before New England's decision-makers have had enough time to assess their quarterback situation with, and maybe without, No. 12 under center.

Brady is coming off of one of his worst seasons as a pro, which is saying something considering he's been playing for two decades. His completion percentage was the lowest it's been in six years, his yardage total was the second-lowest in the last 10 years, and his 24 touchdown passes were the fewest he's thrown in a season since 2006. 

It's natural to wonder whether Father Time has finally caught up to him. Maybe, however, his down year was a result of lacking talent at wide receiver and tight end. Regardless of the reason, his 2019 campaign has called into question where he'll be in 2020.

But there are those three words Kraft said — 'we plan to' — that can't be ignored. At the very least, Bears fans can't get their hopes up. The Patriots tend to get what they want, and if they want Brady back in 2020, they'll have him.

Bears showing strong interest in Dayton TE Adam Trautman

Bears showing strong interest in Dayton TE Adam Trautman

Add Dayton tight end Adam Trautman  to the growing list of tight ends the Bears have met with at the 2020 Senior Bowl.

After confirming Purdue's Brycen Hopkins and Vanderbilt's Jared Pinkney spent time with Bears scouts (in the case of Pinkney, nearly 35 minutes), Trautman told's Chase Goodbread that Chicago's scouts have expressed a strong interest in his skill set.

"They're interested in me," Trautman said of the Bears. "They tell me they like what they see."

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of 2020 NFL offseason

Trautman had one of the best lines of the week when he said he prefers driving opposing defenders into the ground against their will over scoring touchdowns, and at a well-built 6-foot-5, 251 pounds, he has the perfect physical makeup to project as a guy who will do that on the next level. He needs development in that area of his game (run blocker), but his 'want-to' is half the battle.

Trautman wasn't the best tight end this week, but he was far from the worst. He's been consistent, and for a team like the Bears who are searching for a tight end who can be relied on as a second-level target for whoever is playing quarterback in Matt Nagy's offense, Trautman's consistency will be viewed as a plus.

Trautman had 916 yards and 14 touchdowns for Dayton in 2019. Scouts wanted to see whether he could handle the jump in competition at the Senior Bowl, and he's answered that question with a resounding yes.

He projects as a Day 3 pick with upside to develop into a starting quality tight end.