Pursuit of Derek Carr makes possibly the most sense of any quarterback who might be available to the Bears, even if they have to deal first-round draft picks to Jon Gruden again.
The obvious reasons are Carr's skill level, the cost, and the rumored trade demands from the Raiders.
Carr's contract averages less than $20 million the next two years and the fact he's nearing the end of it makes for an easy transition to the Bears' salary cap.
The trade demand of two first-round picks is difficult but they can manage it, and considering Carr will turn 30 for this season he could easily be playing long after the Bears do have first-round picks again in the future.
Besides, that trade demand would still enable the Bears to retain their second-round picks and they've been big second-round draft winners during the Ryan Pace GM era. Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson were all Pace second-round picks.
Carr's improvement to a 98.6 passer rating and 7.7 yards per attempt for the past three years places him among the better passers in the league.
If they don't trade for Carr, the Bears could very likely get stuck with a quarterback at the same level or even worse than they had last year. Do they really want that?
There are 15 quarterbacks scheduled for free agency who started games last year and a few more who didn't start but had been starters earlier. This includes Trubisky and seven others who might be considered starting caliber.
It's not a lucrative list, but here are the only ones from the free agent group capable of being a serious starting candidate:
- Mitchell Trubisky
- Cam Newton
- Jameis Winston
- Joe Flacco
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Jacoby Brissett
- Tyrod Taylor
- Andy Dalton
Winston's 30 interceptions in one season weigh heavily against him and make him ultimately no better than Trubisky. Flat out, Newton was bad last year in his first away from Carolina—eight touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Fitzpatrick is old and doesn't fit the outside zone offensive blocking scheme they implemented well last. You need a mobile quarterback for this and he's not there.
The only other quarterbacks on the list mobile and talented enough beyond Newton is Taylor, and he hasn't started regularly in over three years. High competence is still important, so Newton and Taylor would fit. If Newton could suddenly regained lost magic, then it's a different issue but time and injuries make this unlikely.
At least Trubisky would know the offense and that fact alone could make him a better option than anyone on this list.
So the Bears should avoid turning a deaf ear to the suggesting of surrendering two first-round picks for a veteran quarterback who isn't Deshaun Watson. Trading for Carr might be their last best chance for QB competence.
Still, there is a force working against such a deal which has nothing to do with the Bears.
The report made in the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the possibility of the Raiders offering four first-rounders for Watson to Houston included two first-rounders they would get from either the Bears, Colts, Washington or Patriots. They would be offering Houston first-rounders for several years into the future.
Houston could still get first- and second-round picks for this year in offers from Miami and the New York Jets, which may not force them to wait until years into the future to receive a trade benefit. It wouldn't be four first-rounders, but could be two first-rounders and two second-rounders right now.
Many teams would rather have good picks immediately rather than wait through 2023 or 2024 to obtain a player, simply because he was from Round 1 and not Round 2. That's a long time to wait to complete a rebuild.
So there really is no guarantee the Raiders could pull off this trade for Watson if they do offer four first-rounders.
Without the trade for Watson, why would the Raiders be trading Carr to the Bears?
Answer: They wouldn't.
And where would all of this leave the Bears? Trubisky again?
The only other real options who could be on the market would be players who might be cut for cap purposes, or a trade for Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.
The cap cuts might include Alex Smith, Matt Nagy's former student who made such a dramatic comeback this past season.
Smith would fit the Bears offense in several ways. He knows the offense from Kansas City. While he is older, he also is still mobile enough after his leg surgeries to run the bootleg style attack they went to last year.
The other benefit with Smith and with Foles on the same roster would be as tutors for a drafted quarterback, if they're fortunate enough to obtain one of the top five or even Florida's Kyle Trask in Round 2.
The Bears basically would be looking at making a strong pitch for Carr, bringing back Trubisky or signing a veteran cut for cap purposes. It's difficult to envision any more logical options.
In each case except with Carr, they'd add a rookie quarterback to the mix.
Little of this would be considered exciting, but if the Raiders somehow got the Texans to agree to take a bunch of draft picks from the distant future, then the Bears better be ready to move on Carr.