Caleb Williams

Kliff Kingsbury's flip could add new wrinkle to Bears' upcoming QB decision

The Bears still hold all the cards in their upcoming QB decision

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Kliff Kingsbury was the Raiders' next offensive coordinator for less than 48 hours. According to multiple media reports, the former Arizona Cardinals head coach withdrew his name from the running Saturday after contract discussions fell apart.

But Kingsbury, who spent the past season as a senior offensive analyst and quarterbacks coach at USC, has another NFL option. On Saturday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Kingsbury is now the leading candidate to become the Washington Commanders' next offensive coordinator under new head coach Dan Quinn.

Should the deal get done, Washington hiring Kingsbury could add a wrinkle to the Bears' pending quarterback decision. At the moment, the choice appears to be between taking Caleb Williams at No. 1 overall or trading the pick and continuing to build around Fields. As we sit here on February 3, the Bears taking Williams with the first pick should still be viewed as the most likely outcome.

But Kingsbury coached Williams this past season at USC, the Williams camp trusts him, and the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner is from Washington D.C.

The Commanders hiring Kingsbury would suggest they plan to make a serious run at trading for the No. 1 pick, a move which would have the Bears slide down to No. 2 overall and be in position to draft North Carolina's Drake Maye. While many around the league view Williams as a transformational prospect, it's not a unanimous belief. There are those who believe Maye has a better shot at stardom in the NFL than Williams, and the Justin Herbert comparisons started long ago.

Kingsbury's about-face with the Raiders also reopens Las Vegas as a potential landing spot for Justin Fields should the Bears trade him. Raiders assistant general manager Champ Kelly was the Bears' assistant director of player personnel when Ryan Pace drafted Fields in 2021, and the Silver and Black are in need of a long-term answer under center.

If Washington does hire Kingsbury, perhaps the Bears' QB decision goes from Williams or Fields to Williams, Fields, or Maye.

A couple of things to note.

The Bears control Williams' future.

He can like Kingsbury and want to play in D.C., but if the Bears want to draft him, he will play in Chicago. By all accounts, Williams doesn't plan to or want to pull the John Elway/Eli Manning maneuver, and the Bears' decision to hire Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator was important. Waldron has worked with the QB collective, and Williams is training with that group.

Again, the most likely scenario remains that Williams is the pick by the Bears on April 25.

But we also don't know how general manager Ryan Poles, head coach Matt Eberflus, and Waldron will evaluate Williams, Maye, and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels.

If the Bears wind up with Maye atop their board (or have he and Williams even), and the Commanders are willing to give up significant draft capital to move up one spot, Poles could add to his asset war chest and still land the quarterback he wants.

This will probably end with Williams shaking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's hand while wearing a Bears hat in April.

But Kingsbury's 11th-hour flip and the Commanders' subsequent interest signals that Washington is preparing to throw its hat in the Williams ring, and the Bears quarterback calculus might get a little more complex over the next two months.

But Poles holds all the cards. He'll get the guy he wants. All that's left is for the Bears to decide which path to take to get to their desired signal-caller.

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