As free agency began, rumors swirled that the Chicago Bears were looking to bring in another quarterback to at least compete with Mitch Trubisky, if not replace him entirely. They were linked to Teddy Bridgewater before he ultimately signed with the Panthers, and CBS Sports' Jonathon Jones tweeted earlier today that they were interested in Cam Newton-- unless he became a free agent, in which case they may not want to get into a bidding war for his services.
While it doesn't seem like the Bears are doing everything they can to replace Trubisky, it's obvious they want to stir some competition in the QB room. Chicago has now found their man in the form of... Nick Foles?
Remarkably, out of the unprecedented number of potential starting quarterbacks available, the Bears made the worst choice possible.
Foles' contract was seen as essentially untradeable heading into the offseason. He's one year into a four-year, $88 million contract that will count for $15 million against the cap this year and $20 million over the next two. The Bears have the option to cut Foles after this season, but he'd count for $12.5 million in dead money if they choose to do so. Not only did Chicago voluntarily take on that monetary responsibility, they gave up a fourth-round pick to do so. A compensatory pick, but a fourth-rounder nevertheless. Common discourse suggested the Jaguars might have to throw in a pick to get anyone to take the contract, but the Bears were more than happy to take him off their hands. There will be a restructuring coming, per Mike Garofolo, but a fourth-rounder is still a mighty high price to pay for the kind of cap hit he will have even after that.
Bringing in another quarterback isn't a bad move by any means. Trubisky significantly hamstrung the team last year with his shortcomings, and the presence of competition could bring the best out of him. If it doesn't, Foles could be just enough of an upgrade to keep Chicago competitive. He's played all of nine games since his legendary Super Bowl run, so it's difficult to say if that would be the case, but a league-average quarterback is in there somewhere.
But it's less about choosing Foles and more about passing on the other options available, especially considering the financial commitment they're making with the trade. They definitely could have landed Andy Dalton for a similar or lesser draft pick and he's on an expiring contract. He's also the most reliable option available; Dalton isn't great, but he has a high floor after years of proving he's capable of starting, even if he's not going to win games by himself. If they really aren't trying to replace Trubisky and just want to provide competition, why not wait out the Jameis Winston market and see if you can get a buy-low deal on him? Chicago's defense is good enough to compensate for Winston's boom-or-bust style, and if Trubisky won out, Winston has the talent for spot duty if needed.
The Foles trade also makes the Newton report more confusing. If the Bears didn't want to get into a bidding war for Newton's services should he hit the open market, why take on the final three years of Foles' rather expensive contract? Newton's injury history is a red flag and enough justification to be wary of a long-term, big-money deal, but there are such things as injury provisions in contracts. Newton's ceiling is by far the highest out of any remaining quarterbacks. If he did manage to stay healthy, the Bears are neck-and-neck with most other NFC contenders with the defense they put on the field.
Foles could end up winning the starting job after losing nearly all of last year to a broken collarbone and prove us all wrong. But the Bears had many options available to them, and they took the one that required giving up a draft pick and taking on more money for more years than most of the other avenues they could have gone down.