It looks like the Bears will be in the market for a quarterback this offseason.
According to NFL.com’s Jeff Darlington, Chicago is actively pursuing a trade to send incumbent starter Jay Cutler to a new team.
I’m told by league sources Bears have now begun actively shopping Cutler, which isn’t surprising, but it does require some context:— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) February 21, 2017
While it makes sense to try to trade Cutler, an active pursuit to unload him is formal beginning of the end. Relationship all but over now.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) February 21, 2017
This all but assures Cutler of being with a new team next season, and it leaves the Bears in desperate need of a quarterback for next season. The question is, how will they get said quarterback?
Spending the No. 3 pick in April’s NFL Draft on one seems to be in play, but there’s no certainty that a quarterback worthy of that pick will be on the board. The 49ers, who pick at No. 2, are strongly interested in taking a quarterback there, and there’s already a lot of debate as to whether there’s any passer in this draft worthy of a top-five pick, let alone two of them.
Mayock: In this particular year I don't think any one of these guys [QBs in the draft] are top 10 picks or even day one starters. #NFLDraft— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) February 21, 2017
There’s also the fact that head coach John Fox is on the hot seat next season after back-to-back losing seasons, so it’s unlikely he wants to risk his job on a rookie. That’s why trading for an experienced quarterback is what Chicago should pursue this offseason, and it just so happens the Bengals have one.
This could actually be the perfect trade fit for the Bengals, who are looking to land a first-round pick for McCarron, but certainly won’t land the No. 3 pick for him. Perhaps the Bears would be willing to take McCarron and the No. 9 pick to allow Cincinnati to move to the No. 3 pick, but even that six-spot jump may be too much for the Bears to complete the deal.
It’s more likely Chicago would be willing to deal their second-round pick, which comes at No. 36, for a guy like McCarron. Truth is, those first couple of second-round selections are essentially first-round picks, and that’s probably the best the Bengals can hope for in dealing McCarron.
They’ll try to get a first, but it’s more likely a high second-round choice is the best offer they’ll get. Chicago is one of the few teams that has an early second round pick, a need at quarterback and no certainty they’ll take one in the first round.
The question is, will the Bengals settle on a high second-round pick in exchange for McCarron? Even that’s a massive upgrade over the fifth-round selection the Bengals spent on him in the 2014 NFL Draft.
It’s not like the Patriots and Jimmy Garoppolo, a former second-round pick in that same draft. Of course they want a first-round pick for a guy they invested a high pick on, so he will likely be dealt for a first rounder, if he’s traded.
The Bengals can’t get greedy with McCarron if they want to get a good return on investment. Either the team takes something like a high second-round choice for him, gets lucky with a crazy trade, or the Bengals may wind up keeping him on the roster until he becomes a restricted free agent in 2018.
Keep an eye on the Bears’ quarterback search, as is would surely make sense for McCarron to be in consideration.