With the possible exception of Jameis Winston, who threw more interceptions last season than any quarterback in the last 31 NFL seasons, no signal caller was more maligned than Mitchell Trubisky of the Chicago Bears.
You can understand why people would be so tough on Trubisky. He had the misfortune of being the second overall pick in a 2017 draft that later yielded generational talents like Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.
That naturally led everybody to conclude he must be an exponentially better player than both of them. Well, guess what? He’s not.
So after another mediocre season in 2019, one in which his status was seemingly questioned on a weekly basis, the pundits wanted to know how much more patience the Bears would exhibit before going in some other direction.
We believe we got the answer on Wednesday. The Bears traded a fourth-round draft choice to the Jacksonville Jaguars for veteran Nick Foles. Consider the challenge to the throne underway in Chicago.
“He’s (Foles) a great mentor for the young QB,” a league executive told The Athletic. “He’s a very humble young man. He will compete hard but he will understand if he has to be the backup.”
But here’s the thing: The Bears are not the only team benefiting from the deal. The lowly Jaguars have divested themselves of one of biggest financial blunders in team history by getting rid of Foles, a former Super Bowl MVP with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Just one year after signing Foles to a four-year, $88 million deal, that included a guarantee of $50.125 million, the Jaguars have lifted a large load off their shoulders.
Foles will make $15.125 million in 2020 and would have counted $21.837 million against Jacksonville’s cap. Dealing him will cost them almost $19 million in what the NFL likes to call “dead money” this season. But the good news is, it also clears about $35 million over the next two years.
Jacksonville is in the midst of a free fall and can’t do enough at this point to rid themselves of bad players and bad contracts. That’s what suffering through 10 losing seasons in 12 years can do to you. And the truth is, Foles had lost his job.
In fact, he lost it when he broke his left collarbone in the season opener in 2019. By the time he returned two months later, rookie Gardner Minshew had won the franchise’s heart. If you were keeping score at home, Foles played in four games and made $30.5 million. Financial analysts would advise against that type of investment.
Now, the Bears aren’t going to admit that Foles will be their starter in 2020. They’d like you to believe he’s around for insurance, just like the situation was in Tennessee last season when the Titans acquired Ryan Tannehill to back up former Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
By mid-season, Tannehill was Tennessee’s starter and he ended up leading it to the AFC Championship game. Tannehill just signed a four-year, $161 million extension with the Titans and Mariota left to become a backup with the Las Vegas Raiders.
We can easily see this type of scenario developing in Chicago with Trubisky and Foles, although we wouldn’t be foolish enough to surmise either one of them is capable of winning the NFC Championship in 2020.
The reputation of Bears general manager Ryan Pace is tethered to Trubisky. He’s the one who made the call in 2016 to bypass Mahomes and Watson. To give up on Trubisky would be akin to admitting he made a major mistake (which we all know he did). Trubisky’s passing yards (3,138), completion rate (63.2%), touchdowns (17) and rating (83) all nosedived last season in comparison to 2018.
“He needs to know (the offense) better than me — and that’s the goal,” Nagy said of Trubisky at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He’ll tell you that that wasn’t the case last year. That’s not a slight on him — he’s in year two of it — but I want him to make sure that’s where he gets to in the future.”