Bears 2016 Free Agent Options: Quarterback

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports /

Drew Stanton – Not a threat to take Cutler’s job, but Stanton is one of the most reliable backup QBs in the league. If the Bears are looking for a more experienced #2 then the untested David Fales, they can’t do much better than Stanton. He wasn’t needed much in 2015, but filled in admirably for Carson Palmer in 2014 going 5-3 in eight starts with a 7 TD / 5 INT ratio.

Stanton seems like he’s been around forever, but is only 31 (younger than Cutler) and is 7-5 as a career NFL starter. The decision of who backs up Cutler may come down to what the Bears management thinks about their chance to win in 2016. If this is another development year (which it should be) then it makes little sense to give up on Fales, but if they really think the Bears are a playoff team then it makes more sense to bring in a reliable backup in case something happens to Cutler.

It could be a mute point as both Stanton and the other QBs on this list could be in high demand on the free agent market and could get a chance to start on a more QB needy team like Cleveland, Houston, or St. Louis.

Chad Henne – Didn’t see the field in 2015, but has been a solid backup / low-end starter for the last few years of his NFL career. In 2013, Henne’s last year as a starter, he completed 60% of his passes, had about an even TD/INT split, and a respectable 76.5 QB rating. That would have been an improvement for about a third of the teams in the NFL last season. The fact that Henne didn’t play a snap last year may hurt his free agent value, but he’s only 30 years old so still could have a few solid seasons left. Like Stanton, Henne would give the Bears a proven backup should something happen to Cutler.


I am almost positive the Bears won’t move on from Cutler this season and will probably keep Fales as the backup as well. Pace and Fox have said all the right things about Cutler this off-season, but if they don’t think Cutler can eventually get them to the Super Bowl then they may take advantage of the rare scenario when a potential #1 QB like Osweiler hits the free agent market.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

As for Fales, I don’t think the Bears would have blocked multiple teams from signing him off their practice squad if they didn’t think he had potential to at least be a solid backup. After going 6-10 last season, it doesn’t make much sense to go with an experienced backup QB over a player like Fales who has potential upside. The Bears are closer to contention than most people think, but I don’t think even the coaching staff thinks this is a Super Bowl contender in 2016.