All four of these backup quarterbacks are going to be out of their contracts this offseason. So, the Bears have two things to look at here. One is whether to bring one, two, three or all four of them back on a deal. The second is to decide if any of them could be their starter or a backup for another starter including Cutler.
Shaw went out late in preseason and sat on injured reserve. While he has a lot of promise, he is untested and needs some game work. In his career, he has played in just one game with one start. Is he a potential starter in the NFL? Probably not but it’s possible he could be a good backup.
The situation surrounding Hoyer is a little confusing. He played well when he started in 2016 and limited his mistakes. But he wasn’t a “gunslinger” and didn’t do much in terms of helping the team win (he did have one win against Detroit). Some say he appeared tentative while it could be possible the coaching staff handcuffed him and didn’t let him do much. That would have made him appear to be limited in his starts.
Hoyer broke his arm against the Packers and has been out ever since. He will be healthy but will the Bears bring him back for another shot at making the roster next season?
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Fales saw his only action of the year in Chicago’s last game of the season. He was brought in as an insurance policy in case Barkley went down as he had some familiarity with the Bears’ system. He might just be the odd man out and not get invited back to camp. The Bears did seem to like him enough to bring him back though so perhaps he might get a camp invitation and a chance to make the roster as a backup.
Finally, the starter at the close of this season, Matt Barkley, deserves some consideration. This was a guy who was thrown into the starting lineup and did well at times but had some serious breakdowns at other times. The breakdowns came because of the offensive coaching staff placing a lot of pressure on him to win games by himself. Barkley made some poor decisions and made quite a few mistakes as a result. But remember, he has just five NFL starts and has a lot of learning to do.
But Barkley, like Hoyer, Shaw and Fales, has some promise. You could see any combination of these guys back at least in the preseason. But are they starters? Shaw, Barkley and Fales are not, they are backups that can easily compete for the second or third quarterback spot. Hoyer can be a starter but how effective can he be? We need to see him play in more games to see what he can do.
We will have more on these three guys as the off-season moves on.