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Chicago Bears

Hub Arkush: Bears can't afford big-name QB

The New Orleans Saints' Teddy Bridgewater likely will be the most expensive free-agent quarterback on the market this offseason.
The New Orleans Saints' Teddy Bridgewater likely will be the most expensive free-agent quarterback on the market this offseason.

Why is everyone looking in the luxury aisle for a quarterback for the Bears?

Yes, clearly it is the most important position on the football field.

Yes, Mitch Trubisky did disappoint greatly in 2019 after a breakthrough season in 2018, his future is in real doubt, and the Bears need to add at least two quarterbacks to the roster.

That said, it is quite possible the position isn’t among the top three or four most urgent things to do on general manager Ryan Pace’s list.

The problem with all the gum-flapping over which QBs – Tom Brady, Nick Foles, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, etc. – the Bears should be pursuing either via trade or free agency is it seems quite possible they can’t afford any of them.

As of the day before Valentine's Day, the team has about $13 million in cap space and the ability to fairly easily create another $18 million to $25 million or so by cutting some veterans and/or extending certain contracts.

Of course, it takes two sides to extend deals and make them more cap friendly.

But let’s go all out and say they get to $38 million in available cap space, and after then putting $5 million to $7 million aside for rookies and emergency, they are ready to shop.

Pace’s reality is that although a backup QB who may be good enough to push Trubisky and a youngster to develop – it will be inexcusable if the Bears don’t take a quarterback somewhere in the draft this season – is relatively urgent, he is without starters at tight end, inside linebacker and safety, every bit as much in need of an upgrade at left tackle as he is those three starters, possibly without a starter at right guard and if he creates his additional cap space by releasing Leonard Floyd and/or Prince Amukamara, he will need another starting outside linebacker and may need a veteran corner to hedge his bets on Kevin Toliver and the other backups.

Should the Bears trade for Foles, he comes with a 2020 cap hit of about $15 million, Newton brings an $18.6 million hit and Dalton $17.7 million.

Newton has been in a downward spiral ever since his 2015 MVP season, and Dalton is a barely average QB who’s had only one season in nine better than or as good as Trubisky’s 2018 season.

What if one, two or all of them are released and available in free agency?

The Bears could do a somewhat cap-friendly deal for 2020, but the totals of those contracts could become real albatrosses down the road whether Trubisky blooms or not.

And, of course, to get one of them via trade, the team already is without picks in the first and third rounds almost certainly will have to give up at least one if not more of the eight picks (assuming it gets a compensatory fourth for Adrian Amos) it has, making it that much more difficult to address all its needs.

Bridgewater is going to be the most expensive of the bunch, there are a handful of reasons Brady is a bad idea for the Bears, and what about Winston – an awful fit for coach Matt Nagy’s offense – or Mariota, both of whom are going to get short-term, unfriendly cap deals, is more exciting than Trubisky right now?

If the Bears focus their cap resources on the four to six starters they need as much or more as a backup QB who may be good enough to start, they’ve already proved they can be a playoff team and even win a playoff game with a better-than-average kicker and Trubisky under center.

If they go too hard at quarterback and are left without the assets to fill their other needs, they will waste even more time than they already wasted last season in their current window to contend.

Heck yeah, quarterback is a need.

But focusing on quality at tight end, left tackle, safety, inside and outside linebacker, a quality No. 2 running back and the Case Keenums, Matt Moores and Chad Hennes of the world gives the Bears a better shot at being relevant in 2020 – a must right now for Pace and Nagy.

Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at harkush@profootballweekly.com, and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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