Free agency and the new league year draw ever closer …
- Among the biggest stories this offseason will be the interrelated quarterback maneuvering among the withs and withouts, of which the Chicago Bears may play a significant role on both sides of the coin. Peter King writes at length about the quarterback dominoes, in a comprehensive and informative read. King doesn’t see Jimmy Garoppolo ultimately traded, and sees Houston and Kansas City as the best landing spots for Tony Romo. Bengals backup A.J. McCarron could become a fallback option for the Bears, according to King, who figure to separate from Jay Cutler.
- In the draft, King sees the Bears going after Mitch Trubisky or DeShone Kizer, though I’m not sure how much the Bears would give up to take a swing on a player like McCarron if they’re also going to use their top pick on a hoped-for franchise quarterback. I’m not saying they wouldn’t do it, but the combination would be an odd one, especially if McCarron cost the Bears their second rounder (if the Bears decide to go hard after Garoppolo, by contrast, I’m thinking they would have already decided that the top three QBs in the draft were not for them). Get someone like McCarron without using a first or second rounder, and then get Patrick Mahomes in the second round, as he’ll take longer to develop? I wouldn’t hate that approach, but obviously a lot has to break right.
- Earlier, we talked about how Garoppolo’s own preferences could impact his trade market.
- Speaking of McCarron and Garoppolo, there are at least some executives who actually see a better overall trade target on the market: Bengals backup A.J. McCarron (NFL.com). A big part of the explanation is that McCarron can be controlled for two more seasons, whereas Garoppolo is set to be an unrestricted free agent after 2017. Of course, that also means the Bengals may have less of an impetus to trade their backup. And, limited though Garoppolo’s track record may be, it’s more recent than McCarron’s, which features no starts or pass attempts in 2016, and three starts (five appearances) in 2015.
- For what it’s worth: the Patriots are reportedly ready to engage Tom Brady in extension talks. The soon-to-be-40-year-old QB is already under contract through 2019, but the cap hits in 2018 and 2019 are rather large, at $22 million a pop. By further extending him, the Patriots may be able to reduce those figures in the near-term, and make it slightly more plausible that they could afford to keep Jimmy Garoppolo on a significant contract as pricey insurance. (Of course, that assumes Garoppolo is willing to continue waiting for his turn on the throne in New England.)
- Circling back to the King and the quarterback dominoes, he sees Cutler as a fit for the Arizona Cardinals, for what it’s worth.
- On the Romo front, Jason La Canfora appears to agree with King that the Texans and Chiefs are most likely for the 36-year-old, and adds the Broncos. The Bears are not mentioned in connection with Romo, which makes sense given his presumed desire to compete for a championship immediately, and the possibility that the Bears won’t be in that place come 2017 (even if Romo were singularly the difference between a competitive and non-competitive Bears team, there remain the long-standing health questions about a guy who will play next season at age 37, and who hasn’t completed a full, healthy season since 2014). Wherever Romo winds up, though, everyone seems to be in increasing agreement that it won’t be back in Dallas.
- Brad Biggs takes on a number of questions, and reminds folks – within the context of could-be-free-agent Colin Kaepernick, that no one should rule any quarterback option out just yet. There’s so much that can play out over the coming weeks that the Bears can have a “Plan A,” but they’ll need to have a B and C, too, because landing A might not be entirely up to them.
- Biggs gets into a ton more, including a reminder that the first couple days of free agency always generates some eye-popping contracts. We know that the Bears have a number of needs and a whole lot of money to play with, so we’ll see if they’re one of those early, active teams in March.
- Regardless of what happens with Alshon Jeffery, the Bears figure to be in the market for a wide receiver addition, and a steady veteran type like Pierre Garcon could make some sense – Mike Jones at the Washington Post writes that the Bears, among others, are “expected” to be interested in Garcon. Today, Garcon himself suggested he may well test free agency.
- Rich Cimini writes that the best option for the Jets at quarterback might be a bridge type like Brian Hoyer. We’ve discussed how the same might be true of the Bears retaining Hoyer.