2017 grade: C-
Level of need: Low
Decisions to be made on: Mike Glennon (contract), Mark Sanchez (free agent)
Possible free agent targets: Chase Daniel, Derek Anderson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Moore
The Philadelphia Eagles proved on NFL’s biggest stage why a No. 2 quarterback matters, and while the Bears may not need a version of Nick Foles to beat Tom Brady in Super Bowl LIII, getting Mitchell Trubisky’s backup right will be important. Two big decisions face Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy here: Should Mark Sanchez back up Trubisky, and if not, should they still carry three quarterbacks next season?
Sanchez and Trubisky developed a good relationship in 2017, but Sanchez was inactive for all 16 games. Would the Bears really trust someone who’s only thrown 18 passes since the beginning of the 2016 season with being the guy to play if something were to happen to Trubisky? That seems unlikely, but Sanchez’s ability to provide been-there, done-that advice should at least lead the Bears to consider the idea.
More likely is the Bears look at someone outside the organization to fill their backup gig. Chase Daniel makes a lot of sense, seeing as the 31-year-old began his pro career in New Orleans from 2010-2013 (with Pace) and then moved on to Kansas City from 2013-2015 (with Nagy). Daniel’s football intelligence has been one of his better traits since his days as a Heisman Trophy finalist at the University of Missouri, and he could be a good resource for Trubisky on the sidelines and in the locker room. But if recent playing time is a requirement, Daniel falls short of even Sanchez -- he’s only thrown three passes since the beginning of the 2015 season.
Derek Anderson, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Moore all fit the bill of veteran backups who are set to hit free agency, but whether any of them make it there is another question. Anderson has been Cam Newton’s backup in Carolina since 2011; Fitzpatrick started three games as Jameis Winston’s backup in Tampa last year; and Moore has been in Miami for the last seven years. Those three players aren’t the only ones the Bears could target, but they’ve all started multiple games in the last two seasons.
As for the number of quarterbacks the Bears carry: It seems likely it’ll just be two, with perhaps a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent stashed on the practice squad. It’s a matter of when, not if, Mike Glennon will be cut to save $11.5 million in cap space, and with him out of the quarterback room, it wouldn’t make much sense to add another veteran behind a backup.
Obviously, the Bears hope whoever they sign to be Trubisky’s backup doesn’t start a game. Trubisky’s growth will be the most crucial factor in determining the Bears’ success (or lack thereof) in 2018, but getting the right backup nevertheless is important. Just ask Doug Pederson.