As Brian Hoyer moved out of Halas Hall, literally and figuratively, and other teams began looking hard at him as their 2017 quarterback, the Bears' circumstances at the quarterback position tilted dangerously close to an area that teams typically seek to avoid at all costs.
Hoyer cleaned out his locker on Tuesday and said goodbye's to coaches, according to NFL sources. The Bears now may be without real leverage, i.e., options, in negotiations with Mike Glennon and facing an almost bizarre scenario in which the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup quarterback can effectively dictate terms to the Bears.
The result is potentially a situation in which the Bears are forced to "reach" — to use a draft team, meaning drafting a player improperly above his talent grade — and slip into something Ryan Pace and NFL personnel chiefs abhor.
Is the Tampa Bay backup a "value" at a price expected to be significantly beyond the $8 million the Buccaneers were prepared to pay him as insurance behind Jameis Winston? Value is in fact a consideration, whether in the draft or free agency.
"I think you have to get value," Pace said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I think when you talk about reaching at any position, it's hard. I've referenced teams that I've been a part of before where I feel like we've done that. And I've learned from that experience. You just have to be careful about doing that."
[FREE AGENCY TRACKER: Bears deal with Mike Glennon 'all but done']
Pace was speaking in terms of the draft but the principles and pitfalls apply no less to free agency, where a wrong contract and player can have consequences for years.
"I think what happens with us is that you get competitive and you know you need this position," Pace said. "You start convincing yourself that you need to start pushing a certain position up the [draft] board. And that's when the mistake is made. So we have to be conscious of that at any position."
Regardless of free agency, the Bears are expected to address quarterback in this year's draft. But in the meantime, the absence of Hoyer, in a market that already has options Kirk Cousins in Washington and Jimmy Garoppolo in New England ostensibly beyond the Bears' reach, creates pressure on the Bears front office. The Bears may have had interest in having Hoyer back, but have made no known offer to back that up.
The organization still does have Jay Cutler under contract at a livable financial point ($12.5 million base, $2.5 million in earnable bonuses). Pace said last week that Cutler remains as one of the solution scenarios.
But coaches had expressed satisfaction with what they had in Hoyer, who was 1-3 in full games played last season, including losses to Indianapolis and Jacksonville in which the defense failed to hold fourth-quarter leads (4 points at Indianapolis, 13 vs. Jacksonville).
"Brian's unique in that he makes very quick decisions," coach John Fox said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. "He's very smart, been in a lot of different systems. He's been on the field a lot in the NFL. I thought he did a good job. I think his touchdown total, he didn't have an interception on the season, which for the number of passes he threw, I think probably ranked No. 1."