So Nick Foles is the guy who will “push” Mitch Trubisky. At the bare minimum, he’s who the Bears decided is best suited to compete with Trubisky to be QB1; at the most, he’ll walk into training camp as the favorite to win the job.
But why not Andy Dalton? Or Cam Newton? Or Teddy Bridgewater? Or Jameis Winston?
Or Jalen Hurts? Or Jacob Eason? Or Jake Fromm?
The Bears, as it turned out, had plenty of options when they agreed to a deal for Foles.
Maybe the perception of the Foles trade has been altered by the Monday rumor that the Bears were discussing a contract with Bridgewater, who eventually agreed to a three-year contract with Carolina worth a reported $63 million. Bridgewater was the best realistic option available to the Bears — with an emphasis on realistic, which removes Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Derek Carr from this discussion.
I heard the same rumor that Bridgewater was hesitant to come to the Bears because he didn’t think it’d be a fair competition with Trubisky, for what it’s worth. There’s at least a little credence to it, since Ryan Pace did publicly back Trubisky multiple times this offseason, including when directly asked if he expected Trubisky to be his starter at the NFL Combine. Even if you don’t think he meant what he said, those words might've counted for something.
But I mostly don’t buy it, since if the Bears were offering Bridgewater north of $20 million, they wouldn’t be doing it with the thought he could be a backup. That’s starter money — mid-level money, but starter money nonetheless. It's hard to see Bridgewater and his camp seeing that money and being scared off by a few words in a press conference.
The real reason Bridgewater didn’t come to the Bears, though, is the Panthers were just a better fit. Bridgewater has an existing relationship with hotshot offensive coordinator Joe Brady, which should allow him the best chance to showcase his talents over the course of a short-term contract with an eye on another big payday in two or three years.
The Bears would’ve had to overpay to try to sway Bridgewater away from Carolina, and that would’ve been counter-productive to their ability to address other needs on the roster.
So what about the guy Bridgewater is replacing in Carolina, Cam Newton?
The thought of Newton coming to Chicago healthy and motivated was an enticing one. Don’t discount Newton’s desire to stick it to the Panthers after a less-than-amicable breakup — and the Bears’ trip to Charlotte this fall would’ve been a perfect opportunity for some sweet, sweet revenge.
But Newton never was really on the Bears’ radar. His uncertain health status would’ve been a red flag in normal times; with the NFL’s travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it would’ve been impossible for the Bears’ medical staff to get him checked out in a timely fashion. What if the Bears agreed to trade for Newton, only to discover a problem in a physical a few months from now?
Plus, Newton has an 82.6 passer rating since his 2015 MVP year — about three points lower than Trubisky’s career passer rating. He turns 31 in May, and is a better fit for a team that doesn’t *need* better quarterback play in 2020, as the Bears do.
FWIW: I heard from a source those Cam Newton rumors involving the Bears were bogus. Too many concerns about health/play recently.— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) March 18, 2020
(Yes, Foles has an injury history, too, and is older than Newton, which needs to be mentioned here as a counter-point.)
As for Dalton, his connection with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor — his OC in Cincinnati for two years — helped his case. But if the Bears were going to go with a quarterback who has connections to their coaching staff, they were going to go with the guy who has a relationship with Nagy (and Foles borrowed Nagy's car for a summer once!).
After all, Nagy is still the most important figure in this offensive structure, not Lazor. Foles also worked with new quarterbacks coach John DiFilippo in Jacksonville last year, and Lazor was his QB coach in Philadelphia in 2013. Might as well commit to the guy who has connections to the head coach and not just the offensive coordinator.
And since he’s still available, let’s get this out of the way: Winston would’ve been a mistake, even on a discounted contract.
Also, drafting a quarterback to push Trubisky didn't make much sense a month ago, and without an offseason program and with the possibility of a shortened training camp, there's little chance a rookie could come in and win the Bears' starting job to open the season.
The biggest question to me isn’t why the Bears chose Foles — that seems clear, even if it’s not particularly exciting. The biggest question is why they offered a fourth-round pick, when seemingly no other team was interested in his services (especially after the Colts signed Rivers).
Maybe the Jaguars signaled they wouldn’t trade Foles for anything less than a fourth, and the Bears decided that price was worth it for the guy they liked most. If Foles turns out to be 2020’s version of Ryan Tannehill, it’ll be worth it.
But this whole thing boils down to trust. Nagy trusts Foles. That’s why he was the choice, and not someone else.