The Bears were never going to sign Tom Brady, who per multiple reports is expected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the TB12 to TB move will reverberate within the Bears’ search for a new quarterback.
Now the real fun begins, beyond laughing at these photoshops of Brady wearing those awful (soon to be retired) Bucs uniforms.
And if you’re looking for a best-case view of the Bears’ quarterback search, this is it: Brady going to Tampa Bay just might mean the Bears have their pick of the remainder of the available quarterbacks.
Granted, that group does not include Teddy Bridgewater — who will sign with the Carolina Panthers, per multiple reports — or Derek Carr. But here’s how this possibility shakes out:
1. The Patriots stick with Jarrett Stidham.
NBCS-Boston colleague Phil Perry broke down why Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round pick is currently the favorite to replace Brady. Bill Belichick isn’t the type to overpay for anyone; why would he trade a draft pick for Andy Dalton or Cam Newton or Nick Foles only to pay them a good chunk of money, too?
The Patriots might take a back seat and wait for Dalton or Newton to get cut before snapping them up for cheap, of course. Essentially, they’d circle back in a few days once the market is further squeezed. So don’t discount the possibility they wait this thing out and avoid making a move for a quarterback this week.
2. The Chargers eye the draft.
Do the Chargers think they’re better off signing Jameis Winston or trading for Newton when they have the sixth overall pick and could use it on, say, Oregon’s Justin Herbert (or trading up to draft Tua Tagovailoa)?
Maybe they won’t, meaning they’ll “go” with Tyrod Taylor for now and shoot for a long-term replacement in April. Either way, if the Chargers bow out of the quarterback market after the Patriots this week, that’s tremendous news for the Bears.
3. Someone else signs Jameis Winston.
The Bears should not sign Jameis Winston. Let’s get that out of the way. He has a history of alleged sexual assault, first and foremost. He also threw 30 interceptions in 2019.
Winston is the sort of guy who could completely torpedo a season for whatever team signs him in a bet on his upside. The Bears’ defense is too good — especially after agreeing to bring in Robert Quinn — to risk betting on Winston’s potential. The Bears would be better off with Mitch Trubisky as their starter than Winston, and would be better off getting a different quarterback to "push" the 2017 No. 2 overall pick.
This all being said, Winston’s best-case in free agency probably was going back to Tampa Bay. That option is gone, and he could be had for a relatively cheap price as a result.
.@RapSheet says on NFL Network: "There just doesn't seem to be a starting opportunity for Jameis Winston."— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) March 18, 2020
But the Bears should stay away here, and hope that another team that “needs” a quarterback — maybe the Dolphins? — brings him in.
4. Who else gets a seat at the table?
The rest of the NFL won’t need a new starting quarterback if these first three things happen. The Bears, all of a sudden, become the most attractive destination for a wayward quarterback — not because they’re absolutely ditching Mitch Trubisky, but because they’d at the very least provide a clear path to starting for whoever they acquire.
In this scenario, Dalton, Foles and Newton are all available with only one real suitor: The Bears.
The Bengals and Panthers don’t want to cut Dalton or Newton for nothing, and it doesn’t make sense for the Jaguars to cut Foles given his cap number. So maybe the Jaguars are the first team willing to pull back and not trade Foles for peanuts.
But the Bengals and Panthers? Maybe there’s a scenario in which Pace is able to lowball his way into getting one of those two quarterbacks. That’d be a best-case scenario, even if the quarterback the Bears getting didn’t seem like a best-case option at the start of the week.