Tom Brady

How Tom Brady could make a Derek Carr trade realistic for the Bears

How Tom Brady could make a Derek Carr trade realistic for the Bears

There is a way for the cap-strapped Bears to get a high-priced quarterback upgrade without limiting their ability to address other needs. And it's centered around Tom Brady. 

It would also require Ryan Pace to make his boldest move in addition to a bunch of other things falling into place around the league. How likely this hypothetical (and to be clear: This is only a hypothetical) is to play out is one thing — more on that later — but here’s how Brady could get the Bears a better quarterback without breaking their salary cap. 

Between the NFL’s legal tampering window opening March 16 and the new league year beginning March 18, every free agent quarterback but Brady finds a new home. Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are all under contract by March 20. 

The Bears, too, sign Case Keenum to a cheap one-year contract. Think about $5 million. 

Meanwhile, Brady — intent on exploring free agency for the first time in his career — takes his time making a decision. Maybe he doesn’t have a cross-country traveling tour, but he meets with teams in of his (I’m assuming here) several palatial estates. 

So the New England Patriots, not wanting to risk Brady leaving them in the lurch, trade for Andy Dalton as insurance. 

The days melt off the calendar, and all of a sudden, it’s March 23 and Brady is ready to make a decision. The Colts and Chargers and Titans aren’t in play, deciding not to risk leaving themselves exposed to the whims of a 43-year-old who believes good hydration prevents sunburns. The same goes for the Patriots. 

And on March 25, Brady decides to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders.  

All of a sudden, all of the teams that seemed to need a quarterback don’t. The Raiders don’t have a path to trading Carr to the Colts or Patriots or Chargers or Buccaneers.

You can see where this is going. 

The Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock brain trust is not going to cut him, but they will accept a lesser offer for a relatively cheap 28-year-old who had a passer rating of 100.8 and threw for 4,000 yards last year. 

The only way the Raiders trade Carr is if they sign Brady (Cam Newton, even if healthy, doesn't fit Gruden's offense). That’s the only path for Carr to become available; in this case, he’s available but there aren’t many suitors for him. 

What if Pace, in his boldest move of all, called up Gruden and Mayock and made this pitch: We’ll send you a couple of late-round picks…but also Mitch Trubisky. 

This allows the Bears to get get their version of Alex Smith for only an additional $9 million in cap space in 2020 (Carr’s cap hit is $21.5 million; Trubisky’s is about $9.2 million). That’s entirely palatable; much more so than trading for Carr and keeping Trubisky, meaning the Bears will sink over $30 million into their quarterback room in 2020. 

A Carr-Keenum pairing completely turns over the Bears’ quarterback room for the better, all while allowing Pace the flexibly to pay for a starting tight end, right guard, inside linebacker and/or safety in free agency. 

Don’t discount the Raiders’ interest — specifically, Gruden’s — in trying to “fix” a talented, yet underperforming, quarterback. They did it a year ago with DeShone Kizer, for some reason, and could be convinced to view Trubisky as the heir apparent to Brady once he retires. Sure, Trubisky will hit free agency after 2020 if his fifth-year option isn't picked up, but there's value for getting him in the building. 

If everything in this scenario were to fall into place and you were to ask “who says no?” it feels like Pace may be more likely to say no than Gruden. 

This is how the Bears are able to trade for Carr but still address other needs on their roster with a meager amount of cap space and draft capital. The Bears, otherwise, can’t realistically add a significant upgrade over Trubisky without making the rest of their 2020 roster worse. 

The reality check, though, is this hypothetical is not exactly realistic. None of this matters if the Raiders don’t lure Brady to Nevada. And, too, expect the Bears to continue to send signals of their firm belief in Trubisky this week from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, with their focus on adding a guy like Keenum to compete with him — but not a guy like Carr to replace him as the starter. 

But if you’re in the camp that the Bears need bold action at quarterback, this would be it. And hey, it’s at least fun to dream, right?

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

If the Bears have any interest in signing soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Tom Brady this offseason, they may have to be willing to commit beyond just the 2020 season for him.

According to longtime NFL writer Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., the Las Vegas Raiders are prepping to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million deal.

It's a steep price to pay regardless of Brady's resume largely because of his age; he'll be 43 at the start of next season. It's highly unlikely Ryan Pace would be interested in a multi-year deal for a player as close to the end as Brady, but the market will ultimately dictate what needs to be offered by teams who are serious about acquiring TB12.

If Brady wants to play beyond 2020 and is looking for a commitment from a team that extends into at least the 2021 season, his list of potential suitors is likely to shrink. But all it takes is one club willing to meet his asking price, and with Raiders coach Jon Gruden's affinity for established veteran quarterbacks, it seems like a logical match for both sides.

The Bears are expected to be aggressive in the quarterback market this offseason, whether it's via trade for someone like Bengals veteran Andy Dalton or in free agency with players like Marcus Mariota (Titans) and Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) presenting as attractive options.

Former second overall pick Mitch Trubisky has largely been a disappointment over his first three years in Chicago and is facing a make-or-break season in 2020. There's a chance he won't even begin training camp as the starter, depending on who the Bears court in free agency and the promises they make in order to sign him.

ESPN's 2020 offseason dominoes predicts Tom Brady to the Bears

ESPN's 2020 offseason dominoes predicts Tom Brady to the Bears

Apparently, Bears fans aren't the only ones who think Tom Brady is a realistic option to replace Mitch Trubisky at quarterback in 2020.

In an article outlining some 2020 NFL offseason dominoes, ESPN painted a scenario where Brady signs with the Bears on a four-year, $110 million deal.

Trying to link up with the NFL's best non-Patriots defense and win one more Super Bowl, Brady signs what really amounts to a one-year, $35 million deal with voidable years attached. Allen Robinson, weeping after six years of catching passes from Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky, hands Brady his No. 12 jersey at the G.O.A.T.'s unveiling.

Of course, if the Bears sign Brady to a contract like that (even if it's just a one-year mega-payday), they'll have to free up cap space somewhere. In ESPN's imaginary offseason, GM Ryan Pace finds an extra $13.2 million by trading Leonard Floyd to the Giants for a sixth-round pick.

To free up cap room, the Bears need to move on from their former first-round pick, who has $13.2 million in unguaranteed salary left on the final year of his rookie deal. A Giants team desperate for pass-rushing help sends a late-round pick to the Bears for Floyd, whose sack total has dropped each season since a seven-sack campaign in 2016.

RELATED: Predicting 6 moves the Bears will make this offseason

While that may seem like an undersell for Floyd, the reality is teams around the league know the Bears will have little choice but to cut him, if they make a big-name signing like Brady. As a result, opposing general managers will have all the leverage in negotiations and the Bears will be lucky to get a mid-Day-3 pick back for Floyd, who's generally underachieved through his first four seasons in the NFL. 

Back to Brady for a minute. If Pace adds arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game to a roster that really only needs a quarterback with Brady's current skill set (the Bears don't need TB12 from five years ago; last season's Brady is good enough to win with this defense), then those 2019 Super Bowl aspirations will return in 2020. It would also mark the end of Trubisky's tenure with the Bears, which is also factored into this offseason outline.

The Bears, while still in the market for a young quarterback to eventually replace Brady in a year (or two?), move on from Trubisky and trade him to the Dolphins for Josh Rosen. One bust for another? Seems fair. Whether Rosen can resurrect his career with a year behind Brady in a city that's always looking to hitch its wagon to a franchise-caliber quarterback is anyone's guess, but it isn't the most ridiculous suggestion.

It seems like all of football media is expecting the Bears to make a powerful statement about Trubisky this offseason. And none of those predicted statements are positive. Let's hope Trubisky's still wearing those earmuffs and blinders for the next few months.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.