Bears

Report: Bears plan to make trading for Jimmy Garoppolo top offseason priority

Report: Bears plan to make trading for Jimmy Garoppolo top offseason priority

It's abundantly clear: the Bears top priority this offseason is finding a franchise quarterback.

Expected to cut ties with Jay Cutler at some point over the next few months, the Bears have already zeroed in one option to fill their need at quarterback. 

According to a report from CBS's Jason La Canfora, the Bears plan to make acquiring New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo their top offseason priority.

"The Chicago Bears will make a strong, concerted effort to acquire quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. The Illinois native is far and away their top offseason priority."

The 25-year-old Garoppolo, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract next season, is widely considered one of the top available trade options on the market this offseason as the Patriots are expected to deal the former second-round pick.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The connection between Garoppolo and the Bears runs deep as the Chicagoland native starred at Rolling Meadows High School and played his college football at Eastern Illinois — the same alma mater as Bears GM Ryan Pace.  

Garoppolo has played sparingly in his three seasons with the Patriots. In limited snaps backing up future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, Garoppolo has thrown for 690 yards and five touchdowns in 17 appearances. 

As Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported earlier this week, Pace and Garoppolo spent time together last August when the Bears and Patriots held joint practices in Foxborough.

"We got to talk one-on-one and it was just a couple of Eastern guys hanging out," said Garoppolo, who is playing the role of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in practice this week as the Patriots prepare for Super Bowl LI. "There are not many Eastern Illinois guys (in the NFL), so it's a small group and we like to stick together."

The Bears likely won't be the only suitor for Garoppolo's services this offseason. The San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns both have a need at the position and are rumored to explore the possibility of acquiring Garoppolo.

Any interested team could begin exploratory talks with the Patriots, but a trade can't come to fruition until the new league starts following the NFL Scouting Combine in March.

How the Bears' schedule stacks up against the rest of the NFC North

How the Bears' schedule stacks up against the rest of the NFC North

We’ve known who the Bears will play in the 2019 regular season since New Year's Eve 2018, and have known where they'll play those opponents for even longer. That always makes the NFL’s schedule reveal sort of an odd phenomenon, especially because most of it gets leaked long before primetime shows air on NFL Network and ESPN. 

Additionally: Do we really know how good anyone is going to be in 2019, the Bears included? 

So yes, the Bears have the most difficult schedule of any team in the NFC North by virtue of playing fellow 2018 division winners New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. But a side-by-side comparison to the rest of the NFC North reveals the Bears’ schedule has both its drawbacks and advantages compared to the rest of the division: 

Different opponents

Bears: @ Rams, Saints (division winners)
Vikings: @ Seahawks, Falcons
Packers: @ 49ers, Panthers
Lions: @ Cardinals, Buccaneers

The Bears, undoubtedly, have the toughest pairing of NFC opponents here. But the Vikings having to go to Seattle — where they lost a year ago — isn’t easy against the 12th man, and the Falcons still have a powerful offense and could rebound to contention with an improved defense. 

As for the Packers, San Francisco should be much improved with Jimmy Garoppolo returning from a season-ending injury along with adding Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander, Tevin Coleman and whoever they pick second overall in next week. A healthy Cam Newton could do wonders for the Panthers, too. 

The Lions have two of the likely worst teams in the NFL, though questions remain if the Lions are any good anyways. 

The verdict: The Bears have the toughest pairing, but the Vikings and Packers don’t necessarily have easy ones, either. 

Different locations

Bears: @ Broncos, @ Raiders (London), @ Washington, @ Eagles, Chiefs, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys
Vikings: @ Kansas City, @ Chargers, @ Cowboys, @ Giants, Broncos, Raiders, Washington, Eagles
Packers: @ Kansas City, @ Chargers, @ Cowboys, @ Giants, Broncos, Raiders, Washington, Eagles
Lions: @Broncos, @ Raiders, @ Washington, @ Eagles, Chiefs, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys

The Bears and Lions, theoretically, got the easier draw in the AFC West with the Chiefs and Chargers — two of the AFC’s best teams in 2018 — at home, with the Broncos and Raiders at home. But this is worth noting given the timing of the Broncos’ game in Week 2:

Worth noting, too: The Chargers, who for one more year will play in a soccer stadium that’s usually full of opposing teams’ fans, had a 6-2 record on a road in 2018. 

But missing the Chiefs on the road is a good thing for the Bears — outside of fans losing out on a trip to Joe’s Kansas City. The game being in Week 16 could be fascinating, especially if both the teacher (Andy Reid) and protege (Matt Nagy) have something for which to play. Of course, there are eight months separating now and that game, so plenty could happen. 

Drawing Washington and New York on the road would’ve been the most ideal, but that didn’t happen with any team in the division, so right now it looks like a wash between how the NFC East opponents line up. 

The verdict: The Bears probably have the most favorable-looking schedule of any team here given they get the Raiders in, effectively, a neutral-site game (that likely will be heavily attended by Bears fans at Tottenham’s stadium). Whether or not Denver's uncanny success at home early in the season continues in the Vic Fangio regime remains to be seen. 

Time off

Opponents following an off week: Saints (Bears), at Seahawks (Vikings), at 49ers (Packers), at Packers (Lions)

Opponents following a Thursday night game: At Broncos, at Packers (Bears), at Chiefs (Vikings), Vikings, at Cowboys (Packers), at Vikings (Lions). 

The verdict: This isn’t a huge deal — the Bears had the quickest turnaround in NFL history from their Sunday night game against the Vikings to their Thanksgiving afternoon game against the Lions and wound up fine last year. 

Bears fans on Twitter excited for challenging 2019 schedule

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USA TODAY

Bears fans on Twitter excited for challenging 2019 schedule

The Bears 2019 regular season schedule is set after a day of leaks preceded the full reveal.

The opponents were no mystery but the order is locked in and fans are understandably excited for the season.

The reaction on Twitter showed respect for the quality of opponents on the slate, but of course, there was no shortage of optimism flowing out of Chicago.