Why a Quarterback Must Be Priority No. 1 for Bears
Mock drafts often start at quarterback in Round 2 for the Bears, yet they're assuming a great deal taking this approach.
Discussion of free agents or trades to spend almost all their $13.3 million available cap space on a quarterback do the same thing.
These are big assumptions and they need to be made.
This really is the pressing need area even if the Bears do have Mitchell Trubisky starting and several roster positions are currently lacking a starter under contract.
It's easy to look at the list of starting spots where the Bears have free agents or lack a backup for 2020 and say those are more pressing needs.
Saying this is like not being able to see the tree because of the forest.
The tree is out there, and if you can't see it don't worry: There's a guy with a chainsaw cutting down the other trees so you'll soon see it better. His name is Joey Laine and he is the Bears' contract negotiator who will be restructuring contracts in order to provide money to use at those vacant spots.
They could go to Khalil Mack's contract again and convert some of his $13.3 million in salary due this year into bonus money which counts against the cap in future years. They can find money in the contracts of Eddie Goldman, Kyle Fuller and Charles Leno, as well.
It is pushing off payments to the future that eventually can hurt a team, but there are plenty of ways to offset this in future years and a new collective bargaining agreement for 2021 might cause the cap to go much higher anyway.
Veteran players with big salaries due are always willing to do this because they get the money immediately instead of waiting to receive it in the form of a salary check week after week during the regular season. Who doesn't want the cash now?
There are other actions the Bears could do, some more drastic than others. They could cut Leonard Floyd and save $13.2 million, although this would create a problem because they'd have to give back some of it to pay for a suitable replacement. And to date, they still seem to like Floyd's sack-free play. They could always solve this by getting him a contract extension, then converting some of the $13.2 million salary to bonus paid in future years. They could do the same with Prince Amukamara's $9 million salary, as well. But when a player is his age they are far more likely to be cut. Giving a cornerback a new deal lasting until the age of 33 or 34 isn't prudent.
So there are lots of chances to recoup enough money to retain free agents and also sign someone at those spots even if the situation currently looks bleak. And there are always other draft picks to fill those spots.
What has to be prioritized instead of filling other spots is finding a quarterback, whether in the draft or free agency. They should actually find two of them. They need as many viable options at this position as possible for when they finally realize Trubisky isn't going to get the job done.
Trubisky is the only quarterback general manager Ryan Pace has drafted. The last Bears draft pick at quarterback before him was when Phil Emery selected David Fales in the sixth round in 2014.
For too long this franchise really has been unable to see the tree for that forest. They keep looking at other positions and see needs, then get distracted from the real issue.
They need a real quarterback.
There are always other needs. There are always other positions to be concerned about, but none of those other positions will ever amount to the team winning consistently until they have a quarterback who can be their foundation.
They're currently operating as if Trubisky is the solution but this is uncertain at best, and more of a projection or even a prayer at this point.
As long as there is a chance to find someone who can actually do it in either free agency, through trade or even the draft, it has to be the top priority.
If they don't treat it that way, then they get to continue the insanity of solving the complex issue of winning in the NFL by using the same approach year after year—defense and a running game. This only works on very rare occasion.
Quarterback constitutes a much bigger need than any of the other spots where there might only be an inexperienced reserve at the moment, situations they'll settle anyway later in the draft or in free agency with a few more dollars squeezed out of restructured contracts.
QB consititutes a bigger need in the draft than any lineman, defensive back or the tight ends.
Sid Luckman is dead. Jim McMahon was a long time ago. It's time for the Bears to get real.