As the Chicago Bears get ready for the NFL combine, all of the talks will be on them, the quarterback position, and what they do with the number one overall pick. Still, as they enter free agency and the NFL draft, they will probably be looking for a backup more than a replacement for Justin Fields.
They have Trevor Siemian, but they need to re-think how they handled the backup spot. So, from top to bottom, the Chicago Bears may once again be tied to quarterback. What are the things to look for this week?
The unlikely Justin Fields trade options:
Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson
This site has hardly suggested trading Justin Fields after what he showed last season, but at the same time, the Chicago Bears have to do their due diligence. Four quarterbacks will get talk for the top pick, and the Bears have to be certain none will be much better than Fields.
In the case of Bryce Young, you can say he processes the game a bit quicker than Justin Fields as a passer. However, betting Bryce Young is betting on an outlier. This is not Andrew Luck, Joe Burrow, or Trevor Lawrence, the only slam dunk top picks of the decade. If Bryce Young were that kind of lock, the Chicago Bears would take him. He is not, so they should trade him.
What does C.J. Stroud bring that Justin Fields cannot, other than two years on his rookie deal? As a prospect, Stroud is not as strong as Fields was. Fields was much more physically dominant, and his teams went just as far in terms of wins.
Stroud has similar processing questions and ran the same Ohio State offense that will take time to adjust to. This one seems the least likely.
Will Levis had a worse prospect profile than Justin Fields. He has a lot of the traits that Fields brings, and they are betting on Levis for similar reasons to bet on Fields. Still, nothing from his profile suggests he will be better. Then, there is Richardson. Richardson looks like he could be Justin Fields in two years. So, rinse and repeat, which does not make sense.
Chicago Bears Mid-Round Backup Options
Hendon Hooker, Jake Haener, Aidan O’Connell, Tanner McKee
If the Chicago Bears want any of these options, it will take more than a late-round flier for them. Of the list, Hendon Hooker makes the most sense. He has a live arm and enough mobility that he could run a similar variation of the Justin Fields without the team changing much. What would help the Bears is that his ACL tear may have teams backing off. If he falls far enough, he is a good backup to trust if things do not work with Justin Fields.
Jake Haener will see his stock rise from the Senior Bowl because he was named the MVP. Still, he lacks the physical traits, and while he looks like he could have a career similar to Trevor Siemian, we already have seen that Siemian and Fields cannot run the same offense.
The same can be said for Aidan O’Connell. He has a much more live arm, but his mobility probably tops out closer to Nick Foles than Justin Fields. Tanner McKee could be a decent fit, but of the four, he seems to have the buzz to go the highest.
Chicago Bears late-round options:
Stetson Bennett, Tyson Bagent, Max Duggan, Jaren Hall, Clayton Tune, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Malik Cunningham
If you do not know Stetson Bennett by now you do not watch college football. He may lack the size, but he obviously has the charisma, and he has underrated mobility. As a late-round backup, he could run a system that gets him on the move and keep his team in a game or two due to an injury to the starter.
Jarren Hall, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and Malik Cunningham are probably the next-best options for the backup role. Hall may be the best off-script, DTR has the mobility and a better arm than Cunningham, but the two may see themselves sorted out this week.
Duggan has underrated mobility but his accuracy comes and goes. Tune has questions about getting off of his first read and staying on schedule, but he may have the best physical traits of anyone in this tier. Both could be options in the later rounds to backup.
Then, there is Tyson Bagent. This is the biggest week for him because he is coming from the smallest school, by far. The Shepard product has a lot to prove and may be lowest on the Chicago Bears board because he is the furthest away from being backup capable. He is a stash on the Practice squad type of player.