Bears 2016 Free Agent Options: Quarterback

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 3
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Bears should have over $50 million in cap room this off-season, which could give them the ability to sign a couple potential play-makers. I’m not advocating free agency as the answer to fixing the 2016 version of the team because I still think they are a couple of good drafts away from being a consistent contender, but the Bears could add a couple of impact pieces if they are smart with their cap space.

Ideally free agency is used to add complementary players around a team’s drafted core. Obviously the Bears are far from an ideal situation, but they had some success in free agency last off-season with Pernell McPhee (before he got hurt at least) and also some useful pieces like CB Tracy Porter, C Will Montgomery (again before injury), and DE Jarvis Jenkins.

Of course, historically most free agent signings don’t work out as planned. There is usually a reason that teams let players go and often teams pay a high price before figuring out why. The Bears saw a bit of that this season with S Antrel Rolle (3 yrs / $11.25M), CB Alan Ball (1 yr / $3M), and WR Eddie Royal (3 yrs / $15M) all providing less than their expected production.

Contending teams aren’t built by spending money on free agency; they are built by years of good drafting and player development occasionally supplemented by smart free agent additions. There are exceptions, but that’s the way teams like the Packers, Patriots, and Seahawks continue to be competitive every year. An elite QB also helps…

Speaking of QBs I’ll be breaking down the Bears current situation at the position and the available free agent QBs who may be on the Bears radar.

Bears QB Situation:

Jay Cutler is coming off arguably his best season as a Bear with a career-high QB rating (92.5) and his fewest turnovers during his tenure in Chicago. There were questions before the season about whether the Bears new management would keep Cutler around, but they have been consistently singing his praises this off-season and Cutler looks like a lock to start the 2016 season as the Bears QB.

David Fales created a buzz in the preseason with a strong performance in his one start vs the Browns and then again during the season when QB needy teams like the Ravens, 49ers, Browns and even the Patriots tried to sign Fales off the Bears practice squad. The fact that the Bears kept Fales, instead of trying to work out a deal with one of those teams, leads me to believe they have a high opinion of him.

The Bears added QB Matt Blanchard to the practice squad late in the season when Fales was promoted to the active roster. Blanchard has been on the Bears roster before (2012) and has been brought in for multiple  workouts over the last few seasons, so clearly the Bears see something they like.

For more on the Bears QB situation, my Bears QB preview will be posted later this week.

As for free agent QBs, it’s unlikely that the Bears would be in the market for one. Unless they are looking to move on from Cutler, which is doubtful after his solid 2015 season, or they don’t think Fales is ready to be the #2 QB and want a more experienced back-up.

If the Bears do add a QB this off-season, I think it will be a developmental arm from the draft. Regardless, I listed some free agent options with a mix of potential starters and experienced backups on the next two pages.