Justifying the Bears Trade for Mitchell Trubisky
The Chicago Bears made a trade with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night in order to move into the No. 2 pick and select quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
It was supposed to be a good thing. It was supposed to bring the fanbase together. It was supposed to fill their hearts with hope and excitement. But it didn’t. Instead, it drove them down an old familiar road, one that I didn’t think we’d have to talk about anymore.
I remember the 2011 NFC Championship game like it was yesterday. There was a buzz in the city of Chicago, just a year after the Bears had gone out and traded for Jay Cutler, the quarterback who was brought in to change it all. Sitting in the NFL Championship game, you can say that things were going well for Cutler and the Bears. In the divisional round against the Seahawks, Cutler threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions as the Bears won 35-24. He was the man in Chicago.
It wasn’t very likely that Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs had much more to give in their careers, so it was clearly understood that they needed to win now. That’s the reason Cutler was brought in, after all. Fast forward one week and there are Bears fans burning Cutler jerseys everywhere, because (wait for it) he tore his MCL and they lost to the Packers. The quarterback who had led them to an NFC Championship game was now the scapegoat of the entire franchise, and fans would never trust him again.
You see, it was always an uphill battle for Cutler, as the Bears gave away two first-round picks and a third-round pick to get him. The fan base questioned the move from the get-go, saying that they gave up too much in order to acquire him. Even Urlacher himself chimed in saying, “This Cutler guy must be pretty good. We gave up a lot for him.”
Fast forward six years and here we are. The Bears just traded away their third and fourth-round picks this year, as well as a third-round pick next year in order to move up one spot and draft Trubisky. The fan base is up in arms, saying that they gave up too much just to move up one spot. To those who are saying that the 49ers were never going to draft Trubisky anyway, you may be right, but you are also wrong. There were a series of events that led to this transaction taking place, and that’s why I’m here – to tell you that what the Bears did, why they did it, and why they deserve a lot of respect.
It all started once the 2016 season came to an end, as Bears fans seemed to come together on one thing, release Cutler and not carry his $12.5 million contract. Instead of doing it right away, general manager Ryan Pace had to get a plan in order. The first step in that process was to find a quarterback to replace Cutler with, who wound up to be former Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon. The Bears released Cutler when they signed Glennon to a three-year deal worth $45 million. This is likely when the plan to draft Trubisky was put into effect.
You’re probably wondering why they would give Glennon that contract if they were already planning on drafting Trubisky, right? If you look at the details of Glennon’s contract, you would see that it’s essentially a team-friendly one-year contract, with just a small cap hit if they were to cut him after the 2017 season. This works out for the Bears in a lot of ways. If Glennon pans out, they have a solid piece in trade negotiations, because they have Glennon under contract for three years. If he doesn’t pan out, they can cut him after the season. Most don’t know about Glennon’s contract details, but now you do.
The next argument is that the Bears didn’t do their homework on Trubisky, because they never brought him in for a workout or a private meeting. It’s pretty clear that they did this in order to keep their interest a secret. There are plenty of players (including Christian McCaffrey) who turn down private workouts from teams, simply because the teams should already know what they’re getting. The Bears were at the NFL Combine, as well as his pro day, which was more than enough for them.
Not only did the Bears keep their interest hidden, but they also did a bit more to disguise their intentions. After signing Glennon, the Bears still had just one quarterback on the roster, leaving plenty wondering when they would take a quarterback in the draft. On March 23rd, the Bears signed Mark Sanchez to a one-year deal with just $1 million guaranteed. After this happened, most teams likely crossed quarterback off the Bears early board. I mean, why would a team who just spent $45 million on a quarterback in free agency, and signed another quarterback to back him up, want to take one in the draft? The Bears played it just as they should’ve.
Leading up to the draft, there were plenty of questions surrounding who the Browns would pick at No. 1, because they made no attempt to hide their love for Trubisky. The thought was that they’d take Myles Garrett No. 1 overall and then try to move up from their No. 12 pick to take Trubisky. It was believed that they needed to get inside the top five to guarantee that would happen. Heck, there were some reports yesterday that said that the Browns may actually take him at No. 1, which is likely why you heard rumblings about the Bears looking to trade back in the first round.
The teams that had top-five picks (in order for the Browns to potentially move up and take Trubisky) included the 49ers, Bears, Jaguars, and Titans. The Jaguars have been tied to Leonard Fournette for a long time and knew he wouldn’t be there if they traded back to No. 12, and the Titans had said they were willing to spend plenty of equity to ensure Marcus Mariota got a top-tier wide receiver, which is why they took wide receiver Corey Davis at No. 5. So that leaves only the Bears and 49ers as the teams the Browns have available to trade up with. On top of that, it was entirely possible that the 49ers would take Trubisky as well. They had done all their research on him, brought him in for a workout, have a head coach and general manager who are locked up for six years that can take the time to develop him, and they don’t have their long-term answer at quarterback.
In the end, my belief is that the Browns called the Bears in order to trade up, they obviously passed, but it led to the pressure that they could potentially jump to No. 2 with the 49ers, so the Bears had to make a choice. Sit still and wait to see if they get their guy they have planned months for, or go and get the guy that they feel can lead their franchise for years to come. We all know what happened after that.
But that’s not even the end of it. After the draft ended, Pace came out and said that there is no starting quarterback competition or controversy, that it’s Mike Glennon’s job in 2017. This made everything worth it to me, the Bears fan. For once, they took a stand for what they believed in and they are willing to take their time and develop him. As a matter of fact, I hope that Trubisky doesn’t see the field at all in 2017, because I’m of the mindset that quarterbacks need to take mental reps at the pro level. Aaron Rodgers may not be the quarterback that he is today without sitting back and learning the ins and outs of the NFL.
Did the Bears give up too much to move up one spot? Maybe. But most seem to misunderstand what the actual worth of a quarterback is in today’s NFL. Here is a list of quarterbacks over the last 20 years who were traded for at least one first-round pick: Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, Drew Bledsoe, Trent Green, Brad Johnson, Rob Johnson, and Rick Mirer. Not the most jaw-dropping list of players, eh?
Don’t forget about recent trades for players like Jared Goff, who cost the Rams two-firsts, two-seconds, and two-thirds in order to acquire him. Or even Carson Wentz, who cost the Eagles two-firsts, one second, and one third. We could go on about this all day, but the moral of the story is that quarterbacks do not come cheap. Considering the Bears gave up two third round picks and one fourth round pick, this comes off as very cheap if Trubisky turns out to be the quarterback they think he can be. My favorite quote from Pace after the draft was, ” I just don’t want to be average around here. I want to be great… If we want to be great, you can’t just sit on your hands.”
In the end, the Bears took a stance on a player they believed in. Whether they took him with the No. 2 pick with all the traded picks, or with the No. 3 pick, they have put all their confidence on this young kid out of North Carolina. Don’t do what you did to Jay Cutler, Bears fans. Instead, embrace your franchise and general manager that said no to mediocrity and said no to sitting still and letting things just happen. The Bears showed you courage and guts on Thursday night, so instead of ridiculing them for that, stand up and applaud what hasn’t been done in Chicago for a long time – change.